Pat Buchanan: For what should Americans die?
That was the leading Senate hawk favoring U.S. intervention in Syria's civil war. But by ruling out U.S. ground troops, John McCain was sending, perhaps unintentionally, another message: There is no vital U.S. interest in Syria's civil war worth shedding the blood of American soldiers and Marines.
There is in the U.S.A. today, they write, "a reluctance to commit American blood."
"If a nation is not prepared to take casualties, it should not engage in the kind of policies likely to cause them. If it is not prepared to take casualties, it should resign itself to not having the kind of respect from others that a more resolute nation could expect."
To demonstrate this, we need only address a few questions.
Would we be willing to send another army of 170,000 to stop a Sunni-Shia war that might tear Iraq apart? Would the American people support sending 100,000 troops, again, to fight to keep Afghanistan from the clutches of the Taliban?
Should Kim Jong Un attack across the DMZ with his million-man army and seize Seoul, would Barack Obama's America, like Harry Truman's America, send a third of a million U.S. soldiers and Marines to drive the North out? Or would we confine our support to the South, under our security treaty, to air, sea and missile strikes — from above and afar?
If Moscow occupied Estonia or Latvia in a dispute over mistreatment of its Russian minorities, would we declare war or send U.S. troops to fight Russians in the Baltic?
"America no longer has the will, wallet or influence to impose an active and ambitious global leadership across the world," Harries and Switzer contend. They cite Walter Lippmann, who wrote that a credible foreign policy "consists in bringing into balance, with a comfortable surplus of power in reserve, a nation's commitments and the nation's power.
Is there really any vital U.S. interest at risk in whether the 40-year-old Assad dictatorship stands or falls?
But though he has a 400,000-man NATO-equipped army, three times Syria's population, and a 550-mile border to attack across, Erdogan wants us, the "international community," to bring Assad down.
Harries and Switzer urge Obama to enunciate a new foreign policy that defines our true vital interests and brings U.S. war guarantees into balance with U.S. power — a policy where the first question U.S. leaders ask about a conflict or crisis abroad is not "how" but "why"?
Pat Buchanan is a former Republican and Reform Party candidate for President, an adviser to two Presidents, a syndicated columnist based in Washington, D.C., and the author of "Suicide of a Superpower: Will America Survive to 2025?"
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