Americans oppose a military strike against Syria, and their view should be heeded, writes Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan
She agrees with Pope Francis' counsel on the issue. He urged governments "to do everything possible to assure humanitarian assistance" for Syrians. But a "military solution" is a "futile pursuit," the pontiff said.
"He is right," Noonan says. "The only strong response is not a military response."
A military strike against Syria doesn't have support from the public, she notes. A Reuters-Ipsos poll
put that support at 20 percent, and a Pew Research poll
put it at 29 percent.
"Members of Congress have been struck, in some cases shocked, by the depth of opposition from their constituents," Noonan says.
"A great nation cannot go to war — and that's what a strike on Syria, a sovereign nation, is, an act of war — without some rough unity as to the rightness of the decision. Widespread public opposition is in itself reason not to go forward."
Why do Americans oppose military action? "Probably some variation of: wrong time, wrong place, wrong plan, wrong man," Noonan writes.
The public is tired after 12 years of war in the Mideast, she says. Moreover, "the administration has no discernible strategy. A small, limited strike will look merely symbolic. . . . A strong, broad strike opens the possibility of civil war."
An attack wouldn't do anything to increase U.S. credibility, Noonan says. Everyone already knows the United States is "the most militarily powerful and technologically able nation on earth."
North Korea and Iran won't view our failure to attack Syria as a sign we'd never attack them, Noonan says. "Sometimes it shows strength to hold your fire."
Then there's the issue of whether President Barack Obama is up to the task of war, Noonan says. "On Syria he has done nothing to inspire confidence," she states.
"Up to the moment of decision, and even past it, he has seemed ambivalent, confused, unaware of the implications of his words and stands. . . . He has seemed consistently over his head."
The debate over Syria "looks like a fight between the country and Washington," Noonan says. In the 1950s and '60s, it was "foreign policy mandarins . . . who so often and frustratingly counseled moderation, while a more passionate public, on right and left, was looking for action."
Now, "the moderating influence is the public, which doesn't seem to have even basic confidence in Washington's higher wisdom."
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