Why Do Americans Reject
the President's "Red Line"?
who campaigned as a reluctant warrior, has had little success when it
comes to military matters. The peace in Iraq has turned into civil
war. In 2012 we lost more troops to suicide than to battle. Even his
administration's greatest success, getting Osama bin Laden, has
failed to turn the growing tide against the war. The American culture
is in no mood to fight: poll after poll reveals this. And then there
is Syria and its civil war conflict which has been ongoing since 2011.
The New York
Times (Full Article) reported
that while holding an impromptu press conference on August 20, 2012,
President Obama warned Syria that, "...it would face American
military intervention if there were signs that its arsenal of
unconventional weapons was being moved or prepared for use". In
responding to questions, the President referred to this as a
"Red Line". A year later, chemical weapons were in fact
used against Syria's citizenry - allegedly at the orders of
president, Bashar al-Assad.
through on his "Red Line" comment, the President clearly
stated that a strike - what he later called "a shot across the
bow" - would be made against Syria for its use of chemical
weapons. However, since the deployment of poison gas, the line has
been: ignored, marched up to, had its parentage denied, been
internationalized and reset all in an effort to garner international
support. Most recently, it has been re-declared in efforts to seek
cover from congressional approval.
normally anxious to authorize military spending the House and Senate
appear at odds from their leadership in authorizing war. Political
insiders and elites liked the saber rattling for a strike. However,
they found that the rank and file (particularly the
"radicals" of both the Left and Right) took a pass.
America away from what might best be described now as a faded
"Pink line", has allowed Russia, our Middle Eastern rival
and ally of Syria, to exploit this void of American indecision and
exert even greater influence. In fact, Russian President Vladimir
Putin now finds himself being left to play a major role as
conciliator in the region. It appears the American Congress is only
too happy to allow Putin this position which may allow them to dodge
the issues and any difficult votes.
On the anniversary
of two American tragedies, both on 9-11 America's culture is still
deeply affected by our experiences. September 11, 2001 shocked
America and the world by the scale of the carnage upon innocents.
Last year's 9-11 Benghazi consulate assault was small in comparison
with only four casualties; however, it again involved the senseless
and brutal deaths of Americans who were attacked while at work and
killed by radical Islamists.
support that followed the 2001 attack, skepticism of government
increased in the aftermath of the Benghazi attack in 2012. From the
lack of action by the administration since the attack, it appears
such skepticism was justified. Americans were promised that justice
would be brought to those who led the attacks.
while news organizations such as The New York Times, CNN,and the
Associated Press have managed to garner interviews with the the
perpetrator, the Administration has failed to use the resources
available to it to even "fire a shot across the bow" as was
promised against Syria. FBI investigators, Special Forces and CIA
drones have not as yet been deployed to locate, question, capture or
eliminate this terrorist or any of his faction.
It is little
wonder that, after a dozen years of wars, the American public no
longer has any taste for the fight. Though public support of our
military is near all-time high numbers and no one questions its
might, exhilarating feelings to support a march to war in Syria
cannot be found. The public perception from Left, Right, Center, Far
Left and Far Right all appear united in one thing: their skepticism
of administration claims of "irrefutable evidence" that
requires the United States intervention in the Syrian civil war.
Two things on
which the majority of Americans, whether Left or Right in their
political persuasions, are now united is a reluctance to march forth
in military might and - with a stagnant economy at home - a loss of
confidence in the whole political leadership in Washington. Peggy Noonan writing
in the Wall Street Journal discussed this ongoing change in the
on how quickly public opinion has jelled. There is something going on
here, a new distance between Washington and America that the Syria
debate has forced into focus. The Syria debate isn't, really, a
struggle between libertarians and neoconservatives, or left and
right, or Democrats and Republicans. That's not its shape. It looks
more like a fight between the country and Washington, between the
broad American public and Washington's central governing
The good news
is American confidence appears to still be strong, but it is the
confidence in our families, our neighbors, our congregations, our
local community. However, that confidence may not carry forward in
the future as increasing numbers of Americans believe our children
may not have as great an opportunity as we have enjoyed.
It is clear
that the confidence once so bright with the election of a new
President and Congress has been shaken. (The United States Armed
Forces are the single arm of government that consistently ranks in
high esteem with the American people across all segments of the
demographic scales.) The federal government has never been bigger,
more far reaching, and perhaps, less effective than it is at present.
Our deficits are higher, taxes higher, expenditures higher with no
end to it in sight. What has all this spending bought us: a stagnant
economy, an intransigent political system, a self-serving political
class, and a gridlocked national government?
loom on the horizon for the American people, but getting involved
further into the wars, terrorism and fanaticisms of Syria
specifically and the Muslim Brotherhood's radicalism in the
Middle East in general isn't on the front burner for most of America.
Poll after poll show Americans are war weary. They are tired of being
unappreciated for their battles.
of wasting their taxes on wars for seemingly ungrateful people on the
other side of the planet who hate us for our efforts on their behalf.
They are disgusted with sending their sons, brothers and fathers; and
in these modern times, their daughters, wives and mothers to die or
come back wounded. Even those physically unscathed oftentimes still
return home changed by their tour of duty.
As a people we
are tired. As a nation we are changed. As a culture we have been
transformed by the collective experience of our warriors returned
home from the battle front. We view the world differently because of
a war too long fought and by terrorism in the homeland such as the
bombs set off at the Boston Marathon. The focus of Americans has
A recent Barna
poll found that an overwhelming majority of Americans (75%) rank
terrorism prevention as equal to or more important than the more politically
emphasized issues such as: immigration, healthcare, unemployment, and
immigration. In fact, that same percentage ranked terrorism
prevention as more important or equal to family preservation.
telling our leaders that it is time to get our own house in order -
there is plenty to do at home. No "shot across the bow is
needed" until we have first given a cup of cold water to those
who thirst (suffer the ravages of war) and food to those who hunger;
to take care of and protect our American family.
"To us, family means putting your arms around
each other and being there."
Former First Lady, Barbara Bush
Bragan serves as the Executive Director of CapStand. Mr Bragan has an
extensive background in political activism having served on numerous
political campaigns and, most recently serving on Capitol Hill as a
Congressional Counsel and Legislative Assistant. He has lectured in
20 states on political activism, finance, organization and
elections. Linwood can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org