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Chris Graham: Syria, and the role of the U.S. on the world stage

globeonlyAs President Barack Obama is under increased fire from the right on Syria, he is getting support from an unlikely ally.

“A vote against that resolution by Congress, I think, would be catastrophic,” said Republican Sen. John McCain, who of course ran against (and lost to) Obama in the 2008 presidential election, the reference to “that resolution” being a pending matter before Congress authorizing military action against the Syrian government in the wake of mounting evidence that the Assad regime has used chemical weapons against civilians in its ongoing civil war.

McCain is far from being the only Republican pushing Obama to act quickly and decisively in Syria, even as members of their own party have taken the political low road of throwing out charges that the president would be acting imperially if he did so without congressional authorization, and have suggested that it’s possible that Congress won’t give that authorization if and when it is asked.

Secretary of State John Kerry, another failed presidential candidate, for his part, is suggesting that a failure to act will be a 21st century “Munich moment,” referring to the move of European powers to appease Adolf Hitler to stem the tide of Nazi fervor in an act that only served to embolden the Hitler regime in the runup to what became World War II.

Assad, no doubt, will be emboldened in Syria if the West fails to act in some way, shape or form to his internal aggression, and he won’t be the only one. Ally Russia, with an increasingly aggressive Vladimir Putin pushing the buttons, is calculating the next move in his quest to further strengthen the former superpower. North Korea and China are also watching with great interest to see what the United States does, or as the case may be doesn’t do, in Syria, with their own geopolitical fortunes in mind.

If House Republicans follow through on their threat to deny Obama congressional authority to act in Syria, we can guarantee a couple of things. One, that Assad will only continue to act with impunity inside Syria’s borders; and two, that the world outside Syria will become that much more a dangerous place. Just wait for Syria to decide to extend its aggressions to Israel, for Russia to back its ally to strengthen its own hand, for China and North Korea to start pushing harder in Asia against Japan and South Korea.

The isolationist policies of American governments before World War I and between World War I and World War II only aided and abetted the enemies of democracy. A return to those failed international politics will sink the world back into the unsettled state that defined that tumultuous epoch.

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