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Obama in a hard place over Syria

Herb Boyd | 9/5/2013, 11:55 a.m. | Updated on 9/5/2013, 11:55 a.m.
President Barack Obama appears to be on the horns of a dilemma when it comes to Syria—a damned if you ...

The International Action Center is in accord with Rangel, adding, “President Obama is using the same tactics as President [George W.] Bush did before the Iraq War. When the U.N. Security Council would not support the U.S. war, Bush turned to the U.S. Congress for a war vote giving him all ‘the necessary means.’ Ten years later, Iraq lays in ruins. A million Iraqis died, millions became refugees. More than 1.5 million U.S. soldiers were deployed to Iraq. Today, thousands of U.S. and NATO soldiers are disabled, traumatized, and one-third suffer from post-traumatic stress syndrome.”

Obama may be on the verge of getting support from various sectors of Congress, but there seems to be stiff resistance from the U.N. Security Council, particularly from China and Russia, though President Vladimir Putin appears to be concerned about the use of chemical weapons in Syria. And unlike the Libyan conflict, in which the U.S. chose to “lead from behind,” there is little indication at the moment that there’s any nation really out front.

Activists such as Dr. Ron Daniels of the Institute of the Black World 21st Century are firmly opposed to any involvement in Syria, citing both a moral and economic question and the stance taken by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on the war in Vietnam. “Like Dr. King’s position on Vietnam, to get involved in Syria would rob the capital needed so desperately for our impoverished citizenry,” Daniels charges. “Moreover, any attack on Syria is a clear violation of international covenants without the authority of the U.N. Security Council.”

So what’s to be done? Looming before the president is a choice to act or not to act, which is like a Hobson’s choice or no choice at all. If he launches an attack on Syria, an action that Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel is prepared to support, and it fails to mollify the Assad regime, will this embolden it even more? How will all this play out for Iran and North Korea, and will they see an ineffective limited war as a sign of U.S. weakness?

Yes, it’s Barack and a hard place.