Earlier this week former President George W. Bush was interviewed prior to a charity golf event for the benefit of wounded veterans and their families.
The interviewer tried his best to get Bush to comment on the current situation in Syria, what he thought of Syrian President Bashar Assad and other attempts to get the former president to say what action he thinks President Obama should take relative to Syria.
Bush smiled and acknowledged he realized the reporter was trying to get him to say what he thinks Obama should do, but he made it clear he was not going to get publicly involved.
The one thing Bush did acknowledge is that there is no greater nor more difficult decision a president makes than whether or not to send Americans into a war. He said American forces are the finest in the world and that these men and women will do what their commander in chief wishes. They are committed to this country, loyal and brave, but he was not going to suggest what action Obama should take.
Asked his thoughts about the upcoming anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center buildings, he said that tragedy should continue to serve as a warning of what foreign interests are capable of and the importance of being alert and aware of dangerous situations abroad and how they can affect our situation here at home.
He, and another veteran with multiple tours of action in the Iraq and Afghanistan fighting, emphasized the loyalty of those serving in this country’s armed forces and that they are ready at a moment’s notice to follow the commands of the president.
At this time, very few individuals know what President Obama is thinking about committing American forces in the Syrian war. Most Americans would acknowledge Obama faces an extremely difficult decision. Some highly partisan Americans will suggest the president is so consumed with raw politics that a good deal of his thinking is colored by what is best for him and his administration in the eyes of voters.
The vast majority of Americans are tired of war and sick and angry of the toll and price Americans have paid for the Iraq/Afghanistan fighting. At the same time, what is America’s role and what is in the best current and long-range interest of America?
At times such as this it is unfortunate there are not more military veterans serving in Congress — men and women who have experienced firsthand a hot war scene; men and women who know the horrors of war and who would be the most cautious in committing young Americans to another war. And, yet, these same individuals probably have a deeper sense of the role of America and the role it must play in protecting the best interests and safety of this country.
Obama finds himself in a tough, very tough, position. He is not a veteran, and it is likely there are fewer veterans in Congress today than at any time since before World War II. It’s one thing to be a lawmaker, a member of the House or Senate, but they don’t know war and the costs of war. Eisenhower, the late President Kennedy, George H.W. Bush and the late Gerald Ford were the last presidents who knew war on a firsthand basis. Nixon and Carter served in the Navy, Reagan served in the Air Force and Bush “43” was in the Texas Air National Guard, but neither Clinton nor Obama was in active military duty. Obama served as a community organizer prior to entering the Senate.
All were, and are, honorable men, but only four presidents in the past 60 or so years have experienced the horrors of war.
It’s easy to serve as an armchair president, but Obama must make the final decision. Whatever he does, he will be second-guessed and his motives will be questioned. At this time no one knows how much advice he will solicit from those serving as the military’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, or of those in Congress who have distinguished themselves by their military service. Hopefully, his partisan political advisers, and Obama himself, will discard any political considerations.
Obama promised to make major changes in this country if he should be elected and he has indeed made many changes in historic and traditional actions. What factors will he use in regard to how he considers the proper “fundamental changes” he calls for as they apply to committing U.S. forces into the Syrian war and the possible escalation of fighting into other countries?
What path does he consider best for the country, and why?