U.S. military leaders are staunchly opposed to President Obama's call for military action in Syria, and retired U.S. Army Lt. Col. Bob Maginnis is urging the brass to save American lives by being very vocal in letting Obama know where they stand and why.
Maginnis was a career military officer, advised the Army after his retirement and is also author of the new book, "Deadly Consequences: How Cowards Are Pushing Women Into Combat." He told WND officers with the highest command need to be more forceful in explaining their reservations to the president, even to the point of resignation.
"The idea that these men who understand war are not making quite a case, I hope behind the scenes (they are). Evidently, it's not to the point that they're willing to put their stars on the table," Maginnis said. "I think at some point, and I've talked with some of these types of folks and they are my peers, very few will ever see the utility of putting stars on the table, even if it means the loss of a lot of American lives."
Maginnis said history offers a tough lesson on this front. He noted that the service chiefs went to the White House in the lead-up to Vietnam and discouraged President Lyndon Johnson from doing what he ultimately did. Maginnis said several of those officers later regretted not putting their careers on the line in an effort to make their case more forcefully.
"That cost us 58,000 lives, and it kept us in war for over a decade," he said. "Now we're still in a war and have been for 11 years. Are we going to now extend that to a civil war which questionably doesn't have any national interests at stake just because we hate to see, and rightly so, people being murdered?
"Syria is not our fight," he said. "Syria is a Turkish fight, a Jordanian fight, a Saudi Arabian fight and others, but not ours."
Maginnis said the military's reticence could be seen in the testimony of Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey this week on Capitol Hill, as he stated the military could carry out any orders from the president but made it clear there was little enthusiasm for the mission. In published statements, Dempsey has criticized Obama for saying a delay in the mission would make no difference. Dempsey also said the Syrian rebels weren't people he wanted to do business with.
According to Maginnis, the military is also severely strapped for cash, thanks to sequestration. He agrees with Dempsey that any U.S. action will likely mean a much bigger commitment than anyone is admitting right now.
"The idea that a pinprick is going to do anything other than irritate the monster called Assad is ludicrous. What we need to do if we're serious about this is go in there and destroy his military. Otherwise, let's not make the monster angry. The Syrians are not the Libyans, and the Syrians are not what we fought in the Balkans, and they aren't the Taliban. They're an organized, very capable, large military that, oh by the way, happens to have the Russians as their ally and the Iranians with all their proxy forces," Maginnis said.
As a result, Magginis asserts Obama can either wage an air campaign that accomplishes few objectives and will end up killing civilians because Assad is placing high-value targets among the people or be forced to put "boots on the ground" to achieve real results.
He believes the lack of support for this mission goes through all the ranks of the armed forces and could be a hindrance to U.S. performance if attacks are ordered.
"They'll vigorously execute whatever the mission is, whatever the plan is. That's our tradition, and we do obey the civilian leaders. But when you have civilian leaders that ignore sage advice, it becomes pretty evident. The morale will sink, and so the effectiveness of the force will be diminished to a certain degree," said Maginnis, who believes Congress is the last real hope of preventing this military action.
"Congress had better show some courage here and step up and say we're not going to be co-conspirators here in what is a badly planned operation that could lead us into another ground war in the Middle East and kill more Americans. And for what?"
As WND reported, U.S. Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., tweeted Wednesday, "I've been hearing a lot from members of our armed forces. The message I consistently hear: Please vote no on military action against Syria."
Meanwhile, U.S. men and women in the military are taking to Twitter and Facebook to anonymously demand that the Obama administration refrain from sending them to fight Syria.
Uniformed military members posted photos of themselves on Facebook with paper messages covering their faces, declaring:
- "I didn't join the Marine Corps to fight for al-Qaida in a Syrian civil war."
- "I didn't sign up to kill the poor for the rich. No war in Syria!"
- "Obama, I will not deploy to fight for your al-Qaida rebels in Syria. WAKE UP, PEOPLE!"
- "I didn't join the Navy to fight for al-Qaida in a Syrian civil war."
- "I will not fight for al-Qaida in Syria."