It would seem that, over recent days, some Republicans have become divorced from reality about military retaliation for the Syrian government's use of chemical weapons against their own people.
Senator Ted Cruz...apparently still emulating his hero, Joe McCarthy...recently suggested that, somehow, an American strike against Syrian government assets would be acting as "al Qaeda's air force."
Last week, Senator Rand Paul suggested that perhaps we were backing the wrong side. Bashar al Assad, he said, was actually a pretty good guy who had "protected Christians for several decades" while the Syrian rebels fighting against Assad's tyranny were actually "Islamic rebels"...read “Islamic jihadis”...who attack Christians, supported al Qaeda, and would, if they came to power, persecute Syrian Christians.
We're not sure precisely where Senators Cruz and Paul came by their expertise on the Syrian situation. Indeed, neither seemed to have much to say about it until President Obama decided to seek Congressional approval before launching any military action. But one does suspect that these two Senators, at least, oppose action on Syria for the simple reason that President Obama supports it.
Such rhetoric is not new for Republicans talking about conflicts in the Middle East. It was their misrepresentation of al Qaeda's presence there that was the initial impetus for the invasion of Iraq. The R's also criticized President Clinton's cruise missile strikes on al Qaeda's bases in Afghanistan for much the same reason Senators Cruz and Paul criticize President Obama now.
Other Republican ghosts from the past have become active in recent days. Two in particular, who should never again open their mouths about a failed foreign policy, Donald Rumsfeld and Dick "Darth Vader" Chaney, have become quite vocal in their criticism of the President. In listening to them, however, one should keep in mind that these men chose to go to war against Iraq regardless of the actual threat of that country to the United States or to any of its Middle Eastern allies. These men not only used questionable intelligence to support their claims...they used outright lies. For them to now criticize President Obama is the height of hypocrisy...and shines a light on the folly of the path they led the nation down, costing the lives of more than five thousand American soldiers.
We have, in this space, been critical of the current Administration’s march to military action in Syria. But at least the intelligence here is accepted as relatively accurate by both sides and President Obama approaches Congress with the truth...not a bucket full of lies.
As for Senator Paul...perhaps he'd like to hold his buddy Assad's hand when the missiles come looking for him.