Syria strike proves too costly for US military
The Obama administration is calming efforts to secure Congressional authorization to conduct military strikes on the Assad regime’s military targets. However, Secretary of State John Kerry says the use of force is still on the table.
Before the American people go to war in another country, we must thoroughly examine the cost of doing so, something we have failed to do in the past.
Already talk of war has driven up oil prices around the world and markets are stumbling over themselves in what will happen as each day passes.
D.C. is poised for a fight over government funding and raising the debt ceiling within the next month, and yet the only thing on anyone’s mind is striking Syria. The military campaign would cost the U.S. somewhere in the “tens of millions” to “billions,” according to different estimates.
To make matters more difficult, Rep. Buck McKeon of California, the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, has stated that he will not vote for the authorization of the use of military force unless military sequester cuts are restored. Many U.S. House Republicans agree with McKeon, and what was once just a diplomatic and military argument is now also a fiscal battle.
U.S. House Republicans are correct in the sense that military force comes with high economic consequences. The U.S. plans to cut almost $1 trillion from its military budget, and many of those cuts are already going into place.
While I firmly believe our military is more than capable of faithfully executing this operation, I do not believe they should be doing so when their compensation and pay raises are being cut. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said himself that the Department of Defense would soon have to choose whether to introduce a “modernization holiday” or to have a “much smaller” military force.
Asking our military to conduct a military operation with less resources is irresponsible. We cannot have a small military budget, and still have the capacity to intervene in countries.
The economy has been showing signs of life, with the U.S. adding 169,000 jobs in August, and the unemployment rate dropping to 7.3 percent. U.S. auto sales are also at levels not seen in five years, and yet all this progress could be halted because of a partisan fight over Syria. A strike could cause the U.S. government to rethink rolling back its asset purchasing program, which means the economy could weaken or stagnate in the event of U.S. military action.
Furthermore, the U.S. should not be aiding rebels who have links to al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations. The rebels are an unknown force to us, and they’re not unified around one group or idea at all.
Our nation made the same mistake in the 1980’s when the U.S. funded and gave weapons to Osama bin Laden and the Mujahideen to fight the Soviet Union. Once that enemy was gone, they turned those same guns on the U.S.
The scenario is too difficult to determine an absolute outcome, but the risk is too high and the reward doesn’t seem to have presented itself. The Obama administration has still failed to present adequate evidence that the regime is behind the attack, and until they do so, the U.S. should not be involved in Syria whatsoever.
Along with this, without knowledge of al-Assad’s possible response, the U.S. carefully needs to examine its own interests. A U.S. bombing campaign over Syria will only increase body counts, and cost an immense amount of taxpayers dollars, money that could otherwise go to funding vital programs for economic recovery.
There seems to be no benefit of military strikes on Syria. The “moral” thing to do is not to respond to war with more war. If we want to improve the situation Syria, a political solution is the only way to end the bloodshed.
Foti is a sophomore in the School of Public Affairs.