Monday, September 9, 2013

We're Hunting 'Yeah Buts'

Two years and 110,000 after it started, the President of the United States wants to do something about the Syrian Civil War. He's even taken his case for action to Congress for approval (yeah but he said he may do it anyway even if they disapprove). Sure, what we're planning is being leaked by an Administration that may be more porous than Sponge Bob Square Pants. Yeah but what we hope to gain from this dubious effort is a mystery greater than that of the Sphinx. 

This unfortunately termed 'shot across their bows' strategy has us with a number of US Navy vessels parked off the coat of Syria, all apparently locked and loaded with cruise missiles that the President would like shoot. (Who knew nations had bows.) This will show its President Bashar el-Assad that he can't use chemical weapons against his own people in the civil war engulfing his country that could decide his continued rule, if not his continued existence.

Now for those who've already forgotten, Congress was already looking at a busy schedule when it got back from vacation this week. The nation is about to max out its credit limit at $16.7 trillion and Congress has little time before we allegedly reach default. Yeah but the President wants his Syria resolution dealt with immediately even if we don't know if we can borrow the money to pay for it.

Congress also urgently needs to pass a 2014 budget, since it failed to do so in the previous eleven months. Yeah but one of the biggest complaints we've heard about budgets in the past is how we've spent too much on Middle Eastern wars. Yeah but all the President's talking about is a very limited action involved with firing some cruise missiles to re-establish ourselves as the one and only super power, so how much could that cost?

The Navy lists the Raytheon Tomahawk Block IV cruise missile at roughly $569,000 per unit (yeah but that's in 1999 dollars). A 2011 Huffington Post article cites information from a Navy spokesman that today's cost is actually closer to $1.41 million per missile. That means that this 'bow shot', while undoubtedly creating a number of Syrian 'shovel-ready projects', could cost us between $113 and $280 million dollars.

So you'd think with the kinds of cost involved, targets would be chosen with some guaranteed 'bang for your buck' (pun intended). Yeah but not where the stockpiles of chemical weapons are, since Syria's moving them around and we aren't really sure of where they are.  Besides, striking them might release those chemicals, killing even more innocent people. Not at Syria's missile launchers, warplanes and airports either, since we're not sure about where the first two are are, and cruise missiles aren't good for taking out moving targets or runways. Not at any of his command and control bunkers either, since as bad as cruise missiles are on airport runways, they're worse at bunker busting. Not even at Assad himself, since we're not looking for regime change, something that might provoke consequences that our strategy is not prepared to deal with.

Strangely in this case, the idea of going after Syria in the first place seemed more the idea of the British and French, with the US there to 'lead from behind'; and PM David Cameron took project approval to the British Parliament. Yeah but he after he talked President Obama into stepping forward, Parliament voted it down so the British are now out. Yeah but never fear, the French are still on our side (at least until the next opportunity to surrender occurs). Normally the US waits to build a coalition of NATO forces (yeah but nobody in NATO wants any part of this one), or a world-wide coalition of UN members (yeah but no UN members seem to want sign up).

So today Congress is back at work in Washington; but they're not likely to take up the hearings about the NSA, IRS, or Benghazi that they said were urgent when they left. Others may want to talk about the Budget or the Debt Ceiling lest financial doom occur. Yeah but the President said he really needs a vote on his Syrian resolution this week.  After all, Assad is a bad guy and though this war has been going on for two years it's probably past time we got him to leave (yeah but most of his opposition aren't much better and some are far worse)

Truthfully, the President's Syrian Charade seems more like something from a 'Looney Tunes' cartoon, and as the President speaks to the American people and to Congress, my guess is that some of those in the White House old enough to remember the Elmer Fudd character can't help but paraphrase the famous quote of its shotgun-toting (that's for you Joe Biden) comic straight man:

"Shhh. Be vewy vewy quiet, I'm hunting yeah buts."

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