OPINION

Rosario Marin: The Vacillation Of This Administration On Syria Is Alarming

I am certain I am not the only American concerned about the images around the world of the latest actions (or inactions) of President Obama, regarding the conflict in Syria.

Going to war and putting Americans’ lives at risk is one of the most difficult decisions a President can make. I understand that. I experienced this situation up close under President Bush’s leadership, and I know the toll it takes not just on the person of the president, but also on the hearts of every American. In addition it creates a lot of anguish on peace-loving people throughout the world.  

Congress should not look at this decision as bailing the president out, even if that is what the president intended. Setting politics aside may be good enough to save the president’s face, but will it be good enough to restore the credibility of the United States?

- Rosario Marin, Former U.S. Treasurer

I do not want to make a case for going to war.  However, the vacillation, the handwringing, the touch and go of this administration is, to put it bluntly, alarming. I have worked for two steadfast military-trained leaders: Governor Wilson and President Bush. You might or might not have agreed with their decisions or their positions, but one thing was clear: they said what they meant and they meant what they said. There was no vacillation, no equivocation, no passing the buck. You knew where they stood.  America’s opponents knew exactly what was coming to them, if they didn’t heed the call.

After watching the indecisiveness of our president, I realized he had put himself in a no-win situation, especially after Britain’s Parliament gave a stunning rebuke to Prime Minister Cameron with their vote against intervention in Syria. Our once strongest ally is no more, not this time, not under these circumstances. So our president retreated to Congress. He did this after having said he had the constitutional power to intervene with the power of the presidential pen; here he is now looking for congressional approval.  

The problem with presidential equivocation is that neither friend nor foe will take him seriously in the future. Sadly, because he is our leader, our fate as a country, at least while he is the president, rests with his credibility on the world stage. That credibility has taken a blow.  His actions do not bode well for strong leadership. He looks weak.

There are no easy answers to what we as a country should do now that Bashar al-Assad, by using WMD on his own people, has purportedly crossed the red line President Obama drew on the sand. I am not privy to the classified information that apparently proves this claim, yet the hundreds of horrific scenes of young and old desperately gasping for air and bodies jerking incessantly are too much to stomach. Clearly, something must be done.

So now the president has punted the ball back into congressional territory. Congress should not look at this decision as bailing the president out, even if that is what the president intended. Setting politics aside may be good enough to save the president’s face, but will it be good enough to restore the credibility of the United States?   

How the tables have turned! When George W. Bush was president, Senators Obama, Kerry, Biden, and Hagel challenged his stand on Assad. How ironic that they just realized what President Bush saw so long ago.  It amazes me that now they find themselves in the same situation and are making the same arguments President Bush made: Assad is not to be trusted.  

After all the debate is finished, one thing is for certain: the people of Syria deserve better as do the people of the free world.

Rosario Marin was the 41st Treasurer of the United States and is co-chair of the American Competitiveness Alliance.

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