Sending our young men and women into conflict is an awesome decision. I pray that our president will make this decision without listening to the talking heads on TV and in the print media. It should be on an evaluation of our intelligence about the Syrian government and the rebels. The decision should consider history about past combat actions but he should not become a slave to history. As a historian, I believe history provides lessons our leaders should consider, but I also believe every event in history is unique. History can only provide a considered background, not an infallible prediction of the future.
Our 24/7 coverage of this conflict and the debate in Congress and among interested citizens include graphic online videos. No one can be unmoved by the views of children dead from sarin gas and others foaming at the mouth. No one can be unmoved by the cold-blooded execution of captured Syrian soldiers by a rebel group. These images should be considered in our decisions, but taken with a large dose of skepticism. Those releasing the videos have an agenda, and their motives must be factored into our decisions.
The final decision must be backed by real intelligence about what is happening, a very deep and considered thought process that sorts out the vast amount of information about the conflict and develops intelligence that is not biased by political views of what that information really shows. The decision must not be based on someone’s lifting a finger to see which way the hot air of the 24/7 media is blowing.
Daniel E. Spector