Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) told Fox News he believes the Obama administration's objective in Syria is to maintain a stalemate. He said he is not in favor of "sending my son, your son or anyone else's son to fight if your goal or objective is stalemate."
"I think we have no strategic objectives and I don't think it'll change the course of the war. In fact, one of the things that troubles me is that we've already announced in advanced well, it's not going to be too much of an attack. It's not going to last too long and we're not for regime change."
Unfortunately, these two statements are true. The Obama administration has no real Syria strategy, and if it decides to strike Damascus, it will do it without the British, whose parliament voted against military intervention in Syria.
Paul did, however, make one blatent error in his statements. He said, "I also can't see sending my son to fight with Islamic rebels against Christians ... I also can't see my son going to fight on the same side as Al-Qaeda." The idea that the Syrian opposition is genocidal, Al Qaeda-like, Sunni Muslim, and looking to spill Christian blood is flat out wrong. However, this is not merely Paul's misconception. It is a popular misconception in the United States and other western countries. A handful of horrific videos featuring bearded men in northern Syria have fostered a climate of fear about the conflict. The trouble is the White House has not done much to alleviate these fears, and perhaps even shares them.
The Obama administration's policy on Syria has been confused and ineffective. When the Syrian uprising began in 2011, the White House maintained its belief that President Bashar al-Assad was a reformer, even after he began massacring protesters. It took three months of slaughter before the U.S. government condemned Assad's violent crackdown.
The government then entered into a state of semi-belligerence by claiming that Assad has lost his legitimacy. But mid-2012 when a ceasefire was announced, the rhetoric from the White House temporarily changed as it declared it was Assad's last chance to show he is a reformer. The ceasefire failed, and Assad went back to being illegitimate in the eyes of the White House. Meanwhile, Obama backed the Syrian opposition and supplied arms to the rebels, which continued until July when Congress stopped sending the rebels weapons out of concern that that Al-Qaeda could acquire them.
With talk of military strikes against Assad's regime, the White House has stressed there will be no ground attack. It have also emphasized that the airstrikes will last anywhere between 48-hours and seven days, but the purpose is not to change the regime or invade Syria. Paul is right, there appears to be no strategic objectives or even a coherent policy. It hard to tell what airstrikes will do or what they might target. In the Middle East, it has been widely speculated that the Obama administration wants Assad to stay in power out of fear of the so-called Islamisized opposition and the lack of clarity of America's Syria policy.
The trouble is the White House has not done much to alleviate these fears, and perhaps even shares them. On the other hand, the U.S. cannot allow Syria to use chemical weapons against its people. Whatever happens next, air strikes or diplomacy, will be ineffective as long as the United States maintains this ambiguity.