The Elites Stumble on Syria

As our nation contemplates the awful assault on innocent Americans on September 11th twelve years ago, elected officials in the Washington beltway elite are contemplating an attack in Syria, an attack which will aid the very groups who perpetrated those 2001 attacks. These elites are supposedly the best and brightest among us, but this situation with Syria reminds us, as so many other issues have in recent years, that they are no longer capable of leading us. I submit they are not the best and the brightest, but simply the most arrogant and isolated.

Consider: in the past year, we have seen a president threaten Syria with a 'red line' dare involving chemical weapons -- an ultimatum he now appears unfamiliar with, and astonishingly credits to Republicans in Congress and even the world community at large. At the same time, he ignores the very real possibility that this phony challenge was a tip off to al Qaeda rebels in Syria -- a tip on how to bring the United States to war against their enemy, Bashar Assad.

Then earlier this week, that same president spoke to the nation to propose an attack on Syria that he himself had already abandoned -- all for the dramatic theatre of appearing simultaneously wiser than everybody else and above the fray, even while stymied by a Congress he has rarely bothered to consult. This high-stakes playacting, with so much on the line, fooled few. That is, outside of our Jurassic mainstream media and a few senators such as Lindsey Graham. Apparently captivated by a dreamy middle school crush, Graham emerged from the recent presidential speech as one of the few people on the planet still under the teleprompter's spell.

And let's not forget, in the interim, another elitist, Secretary of State John Kerry, bumbled off teleprompter and gave an opening to Vladimir Putin to step in and play international hero in even more Kabuki theatre: the notion that Putin and the Syrian government can be trusted to monitor Assad's chemical weapons stockpile. While the interests of the United States were murky here from the beginning, it does not take an honorary degree from the Kennedy School to understand that strengthening Putin's position in the Middle East was not among them, and that a deal with Putin and Assad to safeguard weapons is a case of the fox guarding the henhouse.

I suppose you have to have lived in Washington a long time for this fairy tale to make sense.

And frankly, some elected officials have lived in Washington for far too long. We must remember that in addition to Senator Graham, John McCain -- who like Graham was elected to be the loyal opposition -- rushed to the Oval Office weeks ago in support of Obama's Syria policy. In fact, after meeting with President Obama, McCain and Graham emerged confident -- even cocky -- that they had the entire Syria scenario figured out.

Keep in mind that these are two senators who have supported the most radical and anti-American of all of Obama's cabinet and judicial appointments. I would ask these two senators: if they are so concerned about America's place in the world and in foreign policy in general, how do they justify their support for Samantha Power and Susan Rice? What in the name of Benghazi were they thinking?

Many of us outside the beltway have never fallen for this administration's foreign policy drivel. We understand our current president is another 'blame America first liberal,' and has been for years. We understand that there are no good guys in Syria and that American interests are far from clear-cut. As such, many of us remember how we were manipulated into Sarajevo, and thus doubted the evidence of just who had used the chemical weapons on civilians in Syria in the first place. Besides, what is the end game? Can we bomb just enough? What is just enough?

We also believe, as that great American Senator Ted Cruz believes, that our military should be used only to protect American interests, and never in the service of international norms. In other words, we doubted that Barack Obama, John McCain, and Lindsey Graham had all the answers in Syria in the first place. Now it appears that those three are finally catching up to what we instinctively knew all along. Our instincts have not been dulled by years of Potomac Fever.

It is said that politics should stop at the waters' edge, and I believe in my heart that it should. However, we have a president with a lifelong history of anti-American and anti-liberty views, one who sat through a sermon that blamed our nation for the attacks of 9-11, to raucous cheers. We have a president whose entire administration coordinated a breathtakingly amateurish and dishonest response to the Libyan attack. In light of this, and other factors, I think it's fair to question just where are his politics with relationship to that waters' edge?

This is a reasonable, if bold and controversial question. America is a set of ideas and ideals just as much as it is a piece of land, and I am on firm ground with regard to those ideas and ideals in questioning the actions of our beltway wizards on this issue. The ideals of America dictate that we must draw a red line of our own, a red line against an out of control governing elite. Made up of all Democrats, and far too many Republicans, this governing glitterati is playing an unwinnable game in Syria the same way they forced an unworkable health-care plan down our throats -- with ignorance paired with isolation from reality and the consequences of their actions.

And as they stumble around now, coming up with one excuse after another to support action in Syria, it is our duty to call them out. As a Republican, it is especially my duty to call out wayward Republicans like senators McCain and Graham. These two long-time insiders are always wrapping themselves shamelessly in the banner of Ronald Reagan, and yet they almost never handle an issue the way Reagan did. He always understood who our enemies were, and what our interests were. Ronald Reagan would have never contended that Barack Obama was competent enough to solve the Syrian conundrum, and he would never trust Putin to safeguard the international community. He would never use the U.S. military to bring chaos to yet another Middle Eastern country, endangering not only our country, but the entire globe.

And Reagan would have never considered the foolishness from the teleprompter earlier this week as "compelling" and an "impassioned plea for moral outrage."

And yet, this is the result of what our elites, including Lindsey Graham, have accomplished over the past few weeks. There are many people who need to be retired from public life, and Senator Graham is among them.

Lee Bright is a South Carolina state Senator who is challenging Lindsey Graham for Senate in 2014.