The Two Most Important Questions to Ask About Syria

Col. Bill Spencer
Col. Bill Spencer

 Anyone who endured me as a teacher/professor/instructor in any social science class I teach or have taught, from middle school through college courses, has heard me preach — and I mean preach — this concept.

Your responsibility as a citizen of this great nation is to ask of your elected representatives in Washington just two questions before this country should go to war over anything.

The first: “When is it victory?”

To ask “When will it be over?” misses the point. If we’re not aiming for victory in any military action we undertake as a nation, then for what are we taking military action?

The second: “What do we want the world to look like after the war/military action is over?”

If we don’t know enough to determine that formulation, or won’t determine that formulation, we have no reason to pursue the issue any further.

Since World War II we have engaged the military instrument of national power exactly zero times with these two questions asked and answered. Now, no one knows enough to even ask these questions, much less answer them. The press doesn’t know enough about warfare to ask them.

And yet you, American citizen, are responsible for holding your elected officials accountable. We shouldn’t have gone into Korea, the Bay of Pigs, Vietnam, Libya, Somalia, Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan without these questions asked and answered. And we shouldn’t go into Syria unless someone asks these questions of our elected officials.

Here’s some testimony from the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (CJCS) in front of a Senate committee last week that may give you an idea of where we are with respect to Syria.

CJCS Gen. Martin Dempsey couldn’t answer what exactly the U.S. was seeking in Syria during questioning from Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., about a resolution authorizing military action:

DEMPSEY: “The answer to whether I support additional support for the moderate opposition is ‘Yes.’”

CORKER: “And this authorization will support those activities in addition to responding to the weapons of mass destruction?”

DEMPSEY: “I don’t know how the resolution will evolve, but I support…”

CORKER: “What you’re seeking — What is it you’re seeking?”

DEMPSEY: “I can’t answer that — what we’re seeking.”

When is it victory?

What do we want the world to look like when it’s over?

If there is no answer, or if “I don’t know” is the response, then we shouldn’t go into Syria. It’s not rocket science. It is taught in every military war college in the country. If only our elected officials, the media and the citizenry would simply ask the questions.