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Collective Sigh of Relief [OPINION]

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There was always something wrong with the notion that the US had only two options for Syria: military action or doing nothing.

Now that a diplomatic approach has been given another chance, and any vote to authorize the use of force postponed, most of us ought to be breathing a collective sigh of relief.

There is no way of knowing now how effective the President’s planned call to arms address would have been before it was rewritten to acknowledge diplomatic developments, but it seemed pretty likely that Congress was not going to authorize military action. There were a number of really good reasons to vote “no”.

General pacifism is always a respectable stance, but there are rarely enough of these types in Congress to scuttle a push for war.

A good number of Congressional Representatives seem to be moved by the overwhelming opposition of their constituency to another military involvement. There are times when we need our politicians to go beyond opinion polling and take a stand for the right thing to do, because the reasoning of the public is has not always been beyond reproach. This doesn’t seem like one of those times, and the impulse to be democratic, and give the public what it wants, is noble in itself.

Many veteran lawmakers seem to have learned something from the debacle that was the Iraq war. Unlike the Dubya administration, the Obama team is not cherry picking evidence to make the case for a war of choice, so those concerns don’t apply.

There is no harm in waiting for the UN team to finish its investigation though, just to be sure.

The more useful comparison with Iraq is the concern that we won’t be able to control what happens after we intervene, which is all the more reason to delay and see if diplomacy can work.

Amongst certain Republicans, there has been a rebirth of noninterventionism, most likely attributable to the Ron/Rand Paul influence. That and their “Libertarian light” concern with some civil liberties issues is perhaps the Paul clan’s only redeeming virtues.

It will be interesting to see how permanent this change of heart is, as it was both everyday Republican voters and the establishment party leaders who were nearly frothing at the mouth when the Bushies were calling for blood.

Even the dyed in the wool hawks who wanted nothing short of a removal of Assad deserve credit for their willingness to vote against Obama’s limited strike proposal. This is a two year old civil war that we would be entering into after all.

Civil wars really only end one of three ways: the existing leadership stays in power, the rebels take control, or the country splits into pieces. It seems like there ought to be a real plan detailing what an Assad-less Syria would look like in place before trying to remove him, but at least it was principle behind the willingness of some of those calling for Assad’s head to vote “nay” on a limited strike.

Even the President himself ought to be relieved that a vote isn’t going to go ahead right away.

You can say what you will about too much time having passed since the chemical attack for it to be an effective punishment. If the use of chemical weapons really is such an abomination, one might also question the logic of a limited strike that leaves Assad in place.

One thing is for certain, though, by taking advantage of this opening to pursue a diplomatic solution through the UN, Barack Obama is demonstrating that he is the reluctant warrior that a Commander in Chief should be.

George W. Bush had a similar opportunity back in 2003 when weapons inspectors on the ground in Iraq announced that Saddam’s regime was finally cooperating with them in a substantive way.

Wanting to have major combat operations over before being bogged down in the heat of the Iraqi summer, Bush dismissed the inspectors’ comments, ordered them out of Iraq, and commenced “Shock and Awe” bombing.

Needless to say, our troops ended up enduring an awful lot of Iraqi summer heat over the coming years. How many senseless deaths would have been prevented if Bush had simply been willing to pursue every last option before impatiently blowing stuff up?

The only people who lose out by having the vote postponed until after diplomacy has had a chance to run its course are those who wanted to revel in an Obama defeat. They were giddy with anticipation last weekend, ridiculing the President and hoping to watch him squirm.

You have to sink pretty low to want to score political points in a matter of life and death; these types don’t deserve the satisfaction.

There is no telling what could happen as this process plays itself out. It is hard to believe that Assad and Putin are going to negotiate in good faith.

Hopefully, Syria can be disarmed of its chemical weapons and we don’t ever have to hold a vote to authorize force.

At least this time, if it does come to that, we will have gotten what we never from the Bushies; an honest debate, a fair look at the evidence, and an attempt to resolve the situation without going to war.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of John Gossom and do not reflect Results Radio, Townsquare Media, its sponsors or subsidiaries.

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