By Lt Col Wendy Rogers (ret)
Republican for Congress
As a fifth generation officer in America’s military, and one of the Air Force’s first 100 women pilots ever, I spent nearly half of my 20-year active duty career overseas. Being devoted to the defense of our great nation and to free people everywhere, I offer the following advice to President Obama and Congress without equivocation:
First, never let the enemy know what we are thinking. And second, never put American troops into harm’s way with an objective short of total victory.
Concerning Syria, both of these rules have been egregiously broken. And for our Congress, now tasked with voting on whether or not to authorize military action, the only responsible vote is no.
The president has put America into a box by declaring a red line that cannot be crossed. Now that the red line has been crossed, he is turning to Congress. He has put us into the untenable position of having committed to a response, so now asks the Congress to decide whether we really should punish Syria for crossing that red line.
To date, more than 1 million Syrians have fled their homes or been made homeless by the bombing. They are part of one of the largest humanitarian crises in the world today. President Obama’s proposed “shot across the bow”, now before Congress to consider, will not alleviate the massive hunger or medical crisis in Syria. In fact, as a career military officer with thousands of pilot hours over foreign countries, I can assure you what Congress is considering will be as ineffective as last year’s $85 billion cut was to reduce our $16 trillion national debt.
While Congress dithers in Washington, and the president continues to vacillate, there are important issues that we, the American people must consider:
First, the situation on the ground is terribly risky. The so-called rebels who comprise the resistance against President Assad are strongly backed by fundamentalist Islamic groups, including Al Qaeda. A previous proposal to send large shipments of military aid to these groups effectively would have been arming the very terrorist groups which target America and our allies.
Second, if these groups were to succeed in overthrowing the Assad regime, there is no guarantee his successor would be any less cruel, any more humane, or any more reasonable with Western powers. As Libya and Egypt have demonstrated, sometimes the devil you don’t know is worse than the devil you do.
And third, what would be the result of military action? As being debated by Congress, would it be a limited military engagement on the order of air strikes against Syria’s air force? What would a strike accomplish? And under any of these scenarios, do we have a coherent and cohesive exit strategy to bring our brave servicemen and women home?
So far, we have heard very little about the real risks involved for our troops, little discussion of a worst-case scenario, and almost no direct answers linking Syria’s crisis to America’s national security. As the pundit and columnist Charles Krauthammer wisely opined, “The problem is not that [President Obama is] not selling his strategy, it is that he doesn’t have a strategy, and that’s the reason everybody, left, right and center has no idea what he’s doing.”
Without clear answers to these questions, and without a compelling reason, why should precious American lives be risked just to fire an ineffectual “shot across the bow”? Until these questions are satisfactorily answered, the only responsible vote in Congress on this action should be no.
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Lt Col Wendy Rogers, USAF (ret) is the Republican candidate for Congress in Arizona’s 9th District, including communities in Phoenix-Sunnyslope to Arcadia and Ahwatukee, as well as south Scottsdale, Tempe, west Mesa, and west Chandler. Find out more about Wendy Rogers at www.WendyRogers.org