The big question for the pundits this weekend is whether our Congress will “authorize” President Obama to launch military strikes against Syria—actions that Obama has implied he will take regardless of what Congress says. We are told that these strikes will punish the Syrian government for using poison gas against its own people, or, more precisely, for violating international treaties and accords that prohibit poison gas.
There is a bigger question that is not being asked very much. Who, outside of the U.S., has appointed the U.S. as the policeman of the world? Who or what has “authorized” us to arrest and punish international malefactors? No international organization has stepped up to issue the U.S. a badge, and Great Britain and Canada, our closest allies, are not joining in this Syrian action. President Obama is preparing to go it alone.
Some say that he must do this because no one else is willing to do it, because we are the good guys, because it is our moral obligation to save the world from evil, because we know best what’s good for Syria, for the Middle East, for the world. Such a rationale attains the height of arrogance and defies decades of foreign policy errors, but many of our leaders and citizens embrace it.
They embrace it and support the looming Syria adventure because “we can do it,” because of the indisputable fact that we are—militarily—the most powerful nation in the world. No one can stop us. They think that makes us the best and the smartest. Are we becoming something like the big kid in the schoolyard who uses his fists and strength to dominate everyone else and run things his way?
In the schoolyard we call that kid a bully. On a national stage we call such an individual a tyrant. Internationally, such nations are known as aggressors.