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Syria intervention slippery slope
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America has been at war for nearly 12 years now. First, in Afghanistan, then in Iraq. Although our military presence in Iraq has dwindled, we still have about 60,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan.     
Since 2001, more than 2,240  U.S. service members have been killed in Afghanistan and more than 18,200 wounded. During the Iraq War, nearly 4,500 were killed and more than 32,200 were wounded. Among those deployed in these two conflicts, nearly  104,000 have been diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and another 253,330 have been diagnosed with a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) of some kind.  
 Now we’re heading down another slippery slope – this time in Syria. Pressure is mounting for us to “do something about Syria.” The question is “What?” As bad as Afghanistan and Iraq have been, both “failed states” by any reasonable analysis, Syria is infinitely worse. The regime of President Bashar al-Assad is a murderous military dictatorship, masquerading as a republic.
In the past year, Syria has descended into a bloody civil war. The conflict has spread throughout the country, with thousands of civilians killed and well over a million displaced, according to reports cited by the United Nations. 
President Obama recently decided to arm the Syrian rebels who are opposing the Assad regime. His justification is the assertion by the “intelligence community” that “the Assad regime has used chemical weapons on a small scale against the opposition multiple times in the last year.” In other words, the Syrian government has allegedly crossed the “red line” previously drawn by him. This assertion was duly reported by the media, including the New York Times, which has long lobbied for intervention in Syria.
While the “armchair generals” within and beyond the Washington Beltway, including former President Clinton, are urging intervention in Syria, I would urge extreme caution.
Arming the rebels may seem small, but it could be the first step in a larger intervention that could cost us even more blood and treasure. For starters, the so-called “rebels” are a mixture of good, bad and ugly, including Muslim extremists. Once we furnish the weapons, we lose control of who uses them and how. What’s next, a no-fly zone? And then what? Limited ground forces?
Intervention in Syria is a risky undertaking with potentially disastrous results for the region and for our nation. President Obama needs to state and make his case for U.S. intervention. Moreover, he needs to ask Congress to vote yea or nay for the record on his proposal – before he acts on it.
 I am not alone in my call for caution on U.S. intervention in Syria. Most Americans oppose getting involved militarily in Syria. Like me, they fear the folly of another naive attempt to “save” another failed state.
Retired Army Col. Thomas B. Vaughn can be reached at