As a menber of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Chris Coons voted with a narrow majority to give President Barack Obama the authority to strike Syria. While the vote speaks for itself, the questions Coons posed to John Kerry and to General Dempsey reveal that fact that Coons believes that America is the world’s police force. Coons believes that the question facing Congress is not, should we police the world? But, since we are the world’s police, can we do that job well? This comes through very clearly in his first question to General Dempsey.
So the challenge now for those of us who seek an appropriate path forward is to make sure that we craft an authorization for the use of military force that responds to American’s legitimate concerns but still allows the administration to act in a decisive and timely way to both deter and punish the Assad regime for what they’ve done.
So I have a few questions for you if I might. First to General Dempsey. And I know we’ve spoken to this before, but I think it is worth repeating. How do we strike the right balance between military action that is too insignificant to actually effectively deter or degrade Assad’s capabilities and one that is so decisive and overwhelming that it reaches beyond the scope of an authorization and becomes actually a regime change effort.
In other words, can we bomb just enough? That’s laughable. Based on our track record, that is an embarrassing question to ask. And as if getting just the right number of bombs on just the right locations wasn’t a difficult enough PRACTICAL task, it is also (in Coons and Kerry’s view) a messaging, or philosophical task. So, essentially we need just the right number of bombs for Assad, but this operation will also be burdened with delivering just the right number of bombs for North Korea. This is not my interpretation. Coons says this explicitly.
“…our actions are not just meant to deter Assad but to send a strong message to Pyongyang, to Tehran, to non-state actors around the world who might use chemical weapons or might seek nuclear weapons. How do we craft an authorization, how do we take actions that are effective in deterring other countries that are watching our decisiveness and our action in this instance?
This operation now has 0% chance of being successful. If this is the pretext, then there is no chance we can deliver the right number of message bombs AND the right number of practical bombs. The correct number for bombs for this misguided operation is zero. Unfortunately our senator (and I’ll bet the majority in congress) believes we can be Ironman. We can do this just right and “America, FUCK YEAH!”