CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Around America, some conservatives and U.S. newspapers accuse President Obama of slowness to unleash a military strike against Syria for gassing civilians.
But stop and think: Why should America police all other countries, attacking those that commit suspected atrocities? Who appointed America the sheriff of the world? Can America undo every wrong on the opposite side of the planet, or even on this side?
There seems to be evidence that the Assad government used sarin gas to slaughter women, children and other innocents in suburban neighborhoods. (At least, the current evidence is clearer than bogus "weapons of mass destruction" claims that plunged America into the disastrous Iraq War.)
Countries like France, Germany, etc., don't feel compelled to punish ugly behavior in foreign civil wars. Actually, the United Nations should fill the role of global peacekeeper. The task shouldn't fall to America alone. It's bizarre for Washington to decide which war-torn places will be struck by deadly U.S. cruise missiles.
Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution gives Congress sole power to declare war. So far, it appears that the White House is on the brink of loosing a war strike without asking Congress and without U.N. approval. Such a horrendous action shouldn't be decided by just one person.
A month ago, Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, warned Congress about attacking Syria. "Once we take action," he wrote, "we should be prepared for what comes next. Deeper involvement is hard to avoid."
During the years since then-President George H.W. Bush first sent armed forces to Kuwait in the 1990 Gulf War, America, NATO and the West have made eight military onslaughts into the Mideast. London's Guardian said America shouldn't launch a ninth without convincing proof.
"After eight Western interventions in Arab or Muslim countries in 15 years, skeptical generals and a hostile Western public at large are entitled to answers. They are surely entitled to demand clarity from their political leaders, not least because the consequences, unintended or otherwise, of previous interventions show little sign of abating."
The British paper says the George W. Bush administration used Shiite militias in Iraq against Sunni insurgents, which helped trigger the Shia-vs.-Sunni dimension of Syria's civil war.
The New York Times says President Obama should wait until U.N. inspectors decide whether Syrian dictator Assad ordered gassing of his own people -- and if the answer is yes, action should be taken to try Assad in the International Criminal Court as a war criminal.
When former President George W. Bush clamored for an assault on Iraq, Barack Obama and West Virginia's late Sen. Robert C. Byrd were among the few voices objecting. Today, Obama shouldn't go it alone by loosing his own assault.