1. Are we sure there was a chemical attack? Sure, we’ve seen footage of victims on TV, but has there been any evidence presented to confirm a chemical attack? If so, what was chemical was it? Was it a persistent agent or one that disperses rapidly? We should know that by now, especially before going forward with military plans. And if those plans are carried out and we put boots on the ground, we MUST know what these weapons are because our troops will be prime targets for them.
2. Are we sure Assad did it? If the chemical attack really did happen, who conducted it? Which side would benefit most from images of dead children spread around the world in viral videos? Again, we better be sure who is responsible before we are tricked into a conflict that could pull in Russia, China, Iran, and who knows who else.
3. What are our objectives? If we can prove definitively that there was a chemical attack and that Assad is responsible, what do we do? What do we hope to accomplish? Yes, what happened in Syria is terrible, but what about the civil war that has raged in Darfur for ten years? Current estimates put the death toll at 300,000.
Are we moved to action by murder using mustard gas, but not machetes? The administration has stated that Syrian regime change is not the goal of any military strikes. They just want to punish Assad. Really? Is that why we’ve been supplying weapons, food, medical supplies, and money to the rebels for months?
4. Who are the good guys? There are none. This is Egypt and Libya all over again. Yes, the dictators in those countries sucked, but at they were better than the Muslim Brotherhood, which is a big player in the Syrian resistance. How many times does it take to learn our lesson? Assad is a thug, but at least he keeps to himself.
5. What about Russia, China, Iran, etc.? This is the most troubling part of the debate. It also seems to be the part least addressed by our government. What are the consequences of drawing these countries in to the conflict? Everyone has drawn lines in the sand. No one wants to look weak. It isn’t difficult to imagine this situation snowballing as the assignation of Archduke Ferdinand did in 1914.
6. Where have all the doves gone? Where are all the politicians who advocated caution and restraint when George Bush was making his case for attacking Iraq? Two of the most vocal at that time, John Kerry and Joe Biden, are now cheering the loudest for action. Their rhetoric is akin to shouting, “Attack! Attack! Attack!” Why was it bad to strike then, but good now? After all, Saddam Hussein killed THOUSANDS of people in multiple chemical attacks. Could it be that this is a convenient distraction from the recent scandals? Is this a chance to reclaim some ‘street cred’ for the administration? I hope not, but it sure does look that way.
7. What are our national interests? How does this situation threaten our security, sovereignty, or economy? This is the most important question because it illustrates the only instances that military force is justified. In other words, the only occasion in which killing others and putting our own sons and daughters in harms way is acceptable is when it is done in self defense. Is this self defense? It's a question few are asking. As I stated above, the world is a dangerous place with lots of evil people. Always has been. Always will be. We can't change that. We don't run the world. We shouldn't try to either.