Don’t ask the Pentagon, because they don’t have the slightest idea:
The tapes tell the tale. Go back and look at images of our nation’s most senior soldier, Gen. Martin Dempsey, and his body language during Tuesday’s Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearings on Syria. It’s pretty obvious that Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, doesn’t want this war. As Secretary of State John Kerry’s thundering voice and arm-waving redounded in rage against Bashar al-Assad’s atrocities, Dempsey was largely (and respectfully) silent.
Really? Is that fair? Can a picture really tell a tale?
Yikes! It seems it can. I’ve seen more eager expressions in a dentist’s office.
This was Dempsey in his own words on August 19:
In an August 19 letter to Congressman Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), Dempsey writes that the US military had the capability to destroy the Syrian air force and thus shift the balance of the two year old war in favor of the rebels. The General however doubts the reasonability of doing so.
“The use of U.S. military force can change the military balance,” Dempsey said. “But it cannot resolve the underlying and historic ethnic, religious and tribal issues that are fueling this conflict.”
In his letter, Dempsey points out the factionalism of the Syrian opposition, not all of which shares the Western vision of the country’s future.
“Syria today is not about choosing between two sides but rather about choosing one among many sides,” Dempsey says. “It is my belief that the side we choose must be ready to promote their interests and ours when the balance shifts in their favor. Today, they are not.”
Dempsey described Syria’s war as “tragic and complex”, which has been supported by the recent developments there.
“It is a deeply rooted, long-term conflict among multiple factions, and violent struggles for power will continue after Assad’s rule ends,” he wrote. “We should evaluate the effectiveness of limited military options in this context.”
Dempsey thus supported the Obama administration’s current policy of providing humanitarian assistance and some limited help to moderate opposition, saying that would be “the best framework for an effective U.S. strategy toward Syria.”
Doesn’t sound very gung-ho, does it? (Though it does sound exceedingly well-informed.) Off topic, but one reason the film Dr. Strangelove falls flat for me is the one-note tune it plays on the US military. Portraying generals and servicemen as psychos and cowboys may have been just the thing in the early 60s, but it’s as dated as Myrna Loy’s hemlines.
This is today’s army:
[W]hat follows represents the overwhelming opinion of serving professionals who have been intimate witnesses to the unfolding events that will lead the United States into its next war.
They are embarrassed to be associated with the amateurism of the Obama administration’s attempts to craft a plan that makes strategic sense. None of the White House staff has any experience in war or understands it. So far, at least, this path to war violates every principle of war, including the element of surprise, achieving mass and having a clearly defined and obtainable objective.
They are repelled by the hypocrisy of a media blitz that warns against the return of Hitlerism but privately acknowledges that the motive for risking American lives is our “responsibility to protect” the world’s innocents. Prospective U.S. action in Syria is not about threats to American security. The U.S. military’s civilian masters privately are proud that they are motivated by guilt over slaughters in Rwanda, Sudan and Kosovo and not by any systemic threat to our country.
Speaking of dated, who remembers this president?
Our most respected soldier president, Dwight Eisenhower, possessed the gravitas and courage to say no to war eight times during his presidency. He ended the Korean War and refused to aid the French in Indochina; he said no to his former wartime friends Britain and France when they demanded U.S. participation in the capture of the Suez Canal. And he resisted liberal democrats who wanted to aid the newly formed nation of South Vietnam. We all know what happened after his successor ignored Eisenhower’s advice. My generation got to go to war.
General Dempsey, in his own words, echoed the wisdom of Eisenhower. But as a soldier, he’ll do as he’s told, no matter how callow the commander in chief:
Over the past few days, the opinions of officers confiding in me have changed to some degree. Resignation seems to be creeping into their sense of outrage. One officer told me: “To hell with them. If this guy wants this war, then let him have it. Looks like no one will get hurt anyway.”
Soon the military will salute respectfully and loose the hell of hundreds of cruise missiles in an effort that will, inevitably, kill a few of those we wish to protect. They will do it with all the professionalism and skill we expect from the world’s most proficient military.
President Obama is a fool. How many missiles do we need to fire to tell us and the rest of the world, including our enemies, what we already know?