Street Corner Soapbox

Categories:      News & Politics    Opinion
Wednesday, September 4th, 2013 at 7:19 AM

Syria is a mess. There's no clear side to support. The regime under Bashar al-Assad responded brutally to popular unrest. Syrian rebels split into factions and sects and encouraged jihadists to join them. The only thing that's certain is that civil war will rage in Syria for years.

As of right now, President Barack Obama is mulling a military strike on the Assad regime for using chemical weapons against its own people. Whether you support the strikes or not – and I don't – you have to acknowledge it's a weighty decision.

Too bad the American right has seen this only as an opportunity to exploit the situation for political gain.

Sarah Palin, for example, voiced her opposition to a U.S. strike in Syria in a Facebook post titled, “Let Allah sort it out.”

“We have no clear mission in Syria,” she wrote. “There’s no explanation of what vital American interests are at stake there today amidst yet another centuries-old internal struggle between violent radical Islamists and a murderous dictatorial regime.”

In 2008, in the heat of a presidential election, she had a slightly different message about the Republican-run Iraq War. “Pray for our military men and women who are striving to do what's right,” she said in a video. “Also, for...our leaders...sending them out on a task from God.” Palin's description of the Syrian conflict of course perfectly describes Iraq. The only real difference in the question of intervention is the political party of the person suggesting it. That, or Palin is confusing George W. Bush with God.

Others claim air strikes wouldn't go far enough, including Senators Lindsay Graham and John McCain. “Our policies are not working,” said Graham recently on the Sunday morning talk show circuit. “We need to do more.” Tellingly, there are no suggestions on a possible solution. But then these men still think the invasion of Iraq was a good idea.

Still others, like New York Representative Peter King, are opposed to Obama bringing a Syria strike before Congress for a vote – despite 80 percent support for Congressional approval from the American people, according to recent polls – because “he doesn't need to.” King supports the power that the Bush administration wielded in pushing the country to war with Iraq.

And according to recent reports, top Congressional Republicans think a vote on a Syria strike wouldn't pass a House of Representatives vote for lack of Republican support – a noted change in the philosophy of Congressional Republicans since the Iraq War.

And, yes, it all goes back to Iraq.

Then, when the country was faced with a very questionable invasion based on evidence manufactured by the Bush administration, no Republican stuttered or questioned or criticized. Instead, doubts about the President's Iraq policy were equated with treason.

How the times have changed.

Now it feels as if Republican criticism has nothing at all to do with Syria, and everything to do with the president. At least in that they're consistent. Republicans, above all else, seem to view our nation's most critical issues through a partisan political lens. From the debt ceiling to the budget to climate change to jobs to war, instead of genuine policy debate or attempts to solve real problems, we have gridlock and endless partisan sniping. To Republicans, it's a game. And the object is to win the game, not make policy that benefits the country.

Or Syria.

Jay Stevens can be contacted at, and you can follow him on Twitter @Snevets_Yaj. 

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