President Obama's Syria quandary is like a man possessing a puzzle-piece without the puzzle. He holds the fragment in his hand, but, lacking the view of the whole, does not know what to do with it.
Shall we bomb now that Assad has used poisoned gas? If we do bomb, what then? Shall we discover, as we did after the invasion of Iraq and its woeful expenditure of human life, that we were mistaken about the WMDs but maybe it was a good idea to invade anyway?
Those pesky WMDs are popping up in current Syria-talk. To paraphrase Reagan, "There you go again."
We are assured the bombing of key Assad military sites will be the limit. But will we find ourselves in a deep crater of our own doing, unable to climb out of yet another Middle East morass?
This is where the whole puzzle, a coherent foreign policy, becomes so important. Without the big picture there is only randomness. Drop a bomb here, launch a Drone there.
"Sanity is not prevailing today," says Egyptian-born Michael Youssef. "Americans who are treating this crisis with a ho-hum approach… need to understand we could be facing a catastrophic event."
Virginia Congressman Frank Wolf, on September 2, called on President Obama to form a bipartisan Syria Advisory Group consisting of people like former Secretaries of State James Baker and Madeline Albright, former ambassadors Edward Djerejian, Theodore Kattouf and Ryan Crocker, and Generals John Abizaid, Anthony Zinny, and David Barno.
This would not be an act of weakness for President Obama, but of wisdom. As we learned in Vietnam and surely in Iraq and Afghanistan, there must be broad bipartisan support for foreign policy. "The problem in defense," said President Dwight Eisenhower, "is how far can you go without destroying from within what you are trying to defend from without."
A bi-partisan Syria Advisory Group would restore some of the sanity Michael Youssef says we are missing. "Without wise leadership, a nation falls; with many counselors, there is safety." (Proverbs 11:14 NLT)
Again, this is not an affront to President Obama. Would that Lyndon Johnson had had a bipartisan Vietnam Advisory Group, or George W. Bush an Iraq Advisory Group like that being proposed by Congressman Wolf.
As stressful as it was, the Cold War necessitated a comprehensive international worldview into which to place the puzzle pieces. You had to have been there to understand how frightening and fragile the Cold War era was.
Democratic Senator "Scoop" Jackson agreed with Republican cold warriors like grizzly Everett Dirksen. Congressman (and Speaker) John McCormack, Boston Democrat, saw the same challenges in Communism as GOP Representative Richard Nixon of California.
There was serious disagreement about how to place the puzzle piece of containment of communism, but all were united in the conviction that it fit the big picture.
But what is today's foreign policy structural frame?
Hillary Clinton, as Secretary of State, declared in 2011 to a UN group that advancing homosexual rights is a major objective of American foreign policy. "It is a violation of human rights when governments declare it illegal to be gay," said Clinton.
So shall we now undertake bloody regime-changing crusades to punish such illegality in other countries? Is this why we need to bomb Syria?
Another plank in Obama-era American foreign policy is advancing abortion worldwide. In fact, this is a crucial component of the Obama-Clinton effort to frame a coherent foreign policy, termed the "Global Health Initiative." Among other things, GHI "would prevent millions of unintended pregnancies."
Liberals constantly complain that pro-life conservatives are trying to get into their "bedrooms," but ironically it is the leftward Administration that seeks to control what happens in "bedrooms" worldwide. Most conservatives – along with a hefty swath of classical liberals – are begging sexually obsessed media and their celebrity prostitutes and gigolos to quit trying to drag us into their "bedrooms".
How will bombing Syria accomplish the Obama-Clinton foreign policy goal of influencing what happens in the average Damascus bedroom, and especially a resulting pregnancy?
The core of George W. Bush's foreign policy was advancing democracy everywhere. From ridding the Middle East of WMDs there was a shift to a goal of regime change. Had Bush been allowed to serve another 25 years, would he have gone on to democratize North Korea, Libya, Sudan, Somalia, Zimbabwe, and all other nations where tyrants dominate?
Where does one stop when foreign policy becomes as romantic a dream as Thoreau napping in Walden Pond, or idealistic as Rousseau's vision of the pristine "state-of-nature" human being?
After Obama finishes with Syria, will he go on to forcing the rest of the wayward nations to "prevent millions of unintended pregnancies"?
The lack of realistic coherence makes for an inconsistent foreign policy. Without the proper puzzle-picture, how does one know if the gray-green of the puzzle-piece is part of a lush forest or a corpse?
"Where there is no vision the people are unrestrained," says Proverbs 29:18 (NASU). Drop a puzzle-piece here, hammer in another one there.
A sad view of current American foreign policy.