- - Friday, August 30, 2013

U.S. military intervention in Syria would be immoral, illegal and treasonous. It would benefit our mortal enemy, al Qaeda, and possibly trigger a wider Mideast war. President Obama is playing with fire. He is dangerously putting his ego above the national interest. Bombing Syria threatens to leave his presidency in tatters.

In August 2012, Mr. Obama publicly drew a “red line” in Syria’s bloody civil war. He vowed that the use of chemical weapons would trigger a muscular U.S. response. Mr. Obama — along with the leaders of Britain and France — claims that Syrian strongman Bashar Assad used chemical weapons against rebel forces outside the capital of Damascus, murdering hundreds of civilians, including women and children. Mr. Obama’s “red line” has supposedly been crossed.

The administration is engaging in war propaganda eerily similar to Iraq. The costs could eventually be as disastrous — or worse. The evidence is flimsy that Mr. Assad’s forces used nerve gas in rebel-held territory. The United Nations inspection team so far has been unable to irrefutably confirm it. According to Associated Press reports, even U.S. intelligence officials are conceding that the links between the chemical weapons attack and the Assad regime are tenuous at best. The reason is obvious: The Syrian dictator has no rational motive to use weapons of mass destruction. Mr. Assad’s forces are winning and the Islamist rebels are on the run. Their supply lines are cut off. They have been fragmented into several isolated pockets of resistance. The rebels cannot win — and they know it. Why would Mr. Assad use chemical weapons knowing that it would trigger widespread international anger and furor? Using conventional weapons, his military has been winning battle after battle. Mr. Assad may be brutal, ruthless and cunning, but he is not stupid.

The rebels, however, have a major incentive to use chemical weapons upon their own population to garner international sympathy. The Islamist opposition cannot win unless — as in Libya — they enlist Western military intervention. They know that pictures of children gassed to death would strike at the conscience of Western governments. From the onset of Syria’s civil war in 2011, the country’s huge stockpile of biological and chemical weapons has not been secured. The rebels have captured some of the chemical weapons, while stockpiles also have fallen into the hands of Hezbollah and other Assad allies. Hence, there is no conclusive proof — none — that Mr. Assad directly ordered the massacre outside Damascus. In fact, the very opposite could be true.

Moreover, contrary to the liberal media’s spin, the rebels are not “freedom fighters,” the Arab version of American colonists. Rather, their ranks and leadership are filled with Islamic jihadists, many of whom have ties to al Qaeda. Their goal is to forge a Sunni Muslim theocracy — an Islamist Syria. They seek to eradicate the country’s minority Shiite Alawites and Christians. Their slogan is: “The Alawites to the wall, the Christians to Beirut.” In fact, throughout the vicious civil war, Islamist rebels have committed countless atrocities against innocent Syrians. For example, Christian churches have been burned. Priests and nuns murdered. Entire families slaughtered. Why does Mr. Obama want America to aid these Islamist fanatics in their struggle against Mr. Assad’s iron rule? It is the act of the highest hubris and folly.

Think about this: The president seeks to turn American air power into al Qaeda’s de facto air force. Our government is now providing weapons, assistance and training to some members of the very terrorist group responsible for the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, that killed nearly 3,000 Americans. Mr. Obama’s bombing campaign inevitably would help al Qaeda capture Syria, thereby possibly transforming it into a jihadist safe haven.

Iran, Russia, China and Hezbollah back Mr. Assad’s regime. Saudi Arabia and Turkey are siding with the Sunni Islamist rebels. Our intervention, however limited and punitive, would entangle America into a regional snake pit. Once Tomahawk missiles start flying, the blowback could be immense, dragging us into a larger Mideast — and even — global war. Iran is threatening to rain missiles on Israel in the wake of a U.S. strike on Syria. Russia is sending warships to the region. Hezbollah is threatening to retaliate against American military installations and embassies in the region. World War I began in a tiny corner of the Balkans. America is sleepwalking into another possible catastrophe.

Besides being reckless, immoral and dangerous, bombing Syria is illegal. Mr. Obama plans to go to war without the approval of Congress, which alone can authorize the use of military force, except for military action lasting less than 60 days. This is why more than 100 lawmakers are demanding that no military action be taken without prior congressional support. If the president ignores Congress, then he must be held accountable.

Mr. Obama seeks to bomb a nation that has not attacked or even threatened us. The Syrian civil war is none of our business. We have no dog in that fight. The president has made a fatal mistake: Don’t utter threats you cannot back up. He never should have drawn a “red line.” To salvage his credibility and pride, he is now on the cusp of a foreign policy debacle. Yet, the real red line is on him. He crosses it at his peril.

Jeffrey T. Kuhner is a radio host on WRKO AM-680 in Boston.

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