Why the lead up to a potential attack on Syria has been different than Iraq
Will Syria become another Iraq Experience? As President Obama gears up to make a public campaign for military strikes against Bashar Assad’s regime in Syria, many have noted their fears of getting involved in Syria based on the fiasco that occurred in Iraq. Perhaps this fear is justified, but there are still major differences between Iraq and Syria.
What has become striking to me is the fact that unlike the build up to Iraq, there has been an aggressive debate about the merits of striking Syria. Perhaps the American people have finally learned a lesson about the dangers of rushing into a war in the Middle East. All in all, a majority of Americans oppose striking Syria, while in 2003 a majority supported going into Iraq.
When George W. Bush geared America for war in 2003, it was clear from the get-go what the intention of the operation was. It was to be a mass invasion of Iraq itself. With 9/11 still fresh in everyone’s memory, the populace was easily coaxed by misinformation to support a mass invasion and occupation of Iraq. The media went hook-line and sinker for the war and there was very little debate as a result.
In the lead up to an operation in Syria, the scenario is quite different. Unlike the lead up to Iraq, a vast majority of people are opposed to the war in spite of the government’s campaign to push for it. Unlike Iraq, the plan proposed by Obama is far from a full scale invasion and is very limited in size and scope. The media also seems to be less gung-ho than ten years ago, especially after being criticized early on. Thanks to that early criticism there has been a much more aggressive effort to ask tough questions about the nature of a Syrian operation.
I find the Iraq analogy interesting because its been thrown around a lot, but honestly I don’t think it really applies here in Syria. Public attitude is much different now and that makes all the difference. It seems we have the disaster in Iraq to thank for the attitude ajustment. I think the public is far more wary of getting involved in foreign wars now, which is a precedent I would rather like to see continued.
None of this means the military is going to keep out of Syria of course. Historically speaking, if the drive for war is strong enough in congress, it doesn’t matter what the public’s opinion is. At the very least, it’s nice to see the lead up to a potential attack on Syria is being met with more scrutiny by the public and parts of the media.
Hopefully the Iraq experience has taught us to be cautious in going to war, which I hope is a precedent that continues. We already are seeing major differences between Iraq and Syria. Our recent experiences in the Middle East has left a bad taste in the mouths of the American public. If Iraq has taught us anything, it has taught us to ask a lot of questions first before we start shooting.