Syria Is Someone Else's Problem

President Obama should stay out of the Syrian civil war if he wants to achieve any of his other priorities.

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At times, the better part of valor is not to go to war. 

Now things have taken a serious turn. President Obama has signaled his readiness to retaliate in a strike against Syria for the use of chemical weapons, hopefully as part of a multi-national coalition.  If he does, he might as well give up now on other policy and legislative priorities. That will be his day and night job. 

Just look at Egypt, a spectacular failure with no good choices. We are already deeply implicated in that mess, with all the billions we give the Egyptian military in foreign aid, so why don't we cut our losses in that region now?

[See a collection of political cartoons on Syria.]

Tell me when a president has managed to improve his own sagging fortunes with a "little war across the world." (That line is mine.) In fact, stepping into the molasses of one more engagement in the Middle East would finish off our depleted military, exhausted after fighting two of the longest wars in U.S. history. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., is pressuring the president to spill blood in Syria. I wonder why. 

Sorry to all my foreign policy friends, but Syria is not our problem to fix. The rebels may be the enemy of an enemy, but it's not clear they are our friends. The Middle East is like peeling an onion, layer after layer; and you end up in tears. We like to believe in good guys, bad guys and the rule of law, but most of these countries (except for Israel) are not operational democracies. 

Iran has a new leader, too, and so I suggest we concentrate on better outcomes in Egypt and Iran and possibly the Israel-Palestinain stalemate. That's plenty on the plate of Secretary of State John Kerry. There is only one superpower to go round the world.  Let our friends in Europe save the rebels in Syria if they are so inclined. They owe us one.  

[Check out our editorial cartoons on President Obama.]

Unfortunately the president may be bowing to hawkish pressure inside his own Administration and from the media. He might go have a talk with the young Sen. Ted Cruz, the firebrand Texas Republican, who reminds us of the War Powers Act. Oh right, Congress is supposed to decide on whether to enter a war. It's not even Obama's call to make. Let him call Congress back into session if the crisis in Syria is so urgent. 

I told you things are taking a serious turn. Cruz and I agree on something.  

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