So, the stars finally aligned and our senior leaders in Washington all concurred about an important public policy initiative. Yet, even with their agreement to bomb Syria, President Barack Obama, House Speaker John Boehner and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi were woefully out of step with the will of the American public — and seemingly the majority in Congress.
Political and racial motives aside, part of Barack Obama's legacy will be that despite his personal charm and oratorical prowess, he was simply unable to get his administration and Congress on the same page.
Obama's public address Tuesday on why he wants military strikes against Syria was Exhibit A. No one can deny that there should be outrage over and consequences for a country accused of using chemical weapons against its people. But Obama came across as a lone wolf in leading America into yet another war, while conceding Syria posed no direct threat to the U.S.
Make no mistake, when you attack another country with strategic missiles, it is an act of war. With war comes consequences, for America, its allies — and, personally, for the leader of the free world.
Congress was not likely to approve this mini-war with Syria. Russia's Vladimir Putin's suggestion and Syria's endorsement of a proposal to relinquish its stockpile of chemical weapons was a game-changer for what was poised to be Obama's biggest misstep in office.
If the withdrawal plan were not brokered, Obama's expected rejection by Congress would have made him look weak and inconsequential to his constituents in America and abroad.
In defending his position Tuesday, a beleaguered Obama said "sometimes resolutions and statements of condemnation are not enough."
He's right. But it was Obama's job to use his indignation and stature as president to cobble together a international coalition to speak with a united front supporting military action against Syria.
Instead, Russia and Putin came across now as the cool-headed mediators, the ones with the real juice in massaging this international crisis.
How the world eventually deals with Syria will be a signature moment for Obama's presidential resume. We know from experience that trusting and verifying the removal of chemical weapons can be a shaky proposition. Seeing who is chosen to be the inspectors and verifiers will interesting. As with Iraq, it sure looks like an American president is bent on flexing his military muscle with Syria. In fact, it looks inevitable.
It's a red line, however, that America should be very careful about crossing alone. Despite the gruesome pictures of children and adults dying of gas poisoning in Syria, Obama should not miscalculate America's tolerance for another war. The majority here would rather wage peace, with sanctions.
Americans remember the last time a president promised a quick surgical strike in the Middle East. Our "shock and awe" strategy wasn't the short-lived remedy promised. America got mired in the Iraq war for more than eight years. Billions of dollars were spent. Thousands of soldiers and civilians died. Thousands more suffer from mental health issues due to the horrors of war.
There were two extreme examples last month of how war and mental health can manifest into madness.
A military jury convicted Army Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan on 45 counts of premeditated murder and attempted premeditated murder — the largest mass murder at a military installation in American history. Malik, a Muslim, killed 13 people and wounded 32 others in his shooting spree at Fort Hood, Texas.
At a military court in Washington, D.C., last month, decorated Army Staff Sgt. Robert Bales was convicted for slaughtering 16 unarmed Afghan civilians in March 2012. It was reportedly "the worst case of civilian deaths blamed on a rogue U.S. soldier since the Vietnam War."
We see few stories about the innocent American soldiers and foreign civilians slaughtered like animals by men who could no longer suppress their inner demons after being embroiled in military conflict.
I would like to see more American government interventions, but on the domestic front. Put some resources, programs and mediators into Chicago and Baltimore where urban youth are killing each other in large numbers — and with impunity. Or, how about Detroit, broke and reeling after years of poor planning and inept government?
These red lines have also been breached — and deserved immediate action.
Stan Simpson is host of "The Stan Simpson Show'' (www.foxct.com/stan and Saturdays, 6:30 a.m., on FOX CT).Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun