My expectations of President Obama were never high so I never thought he could disappoint me. I was wrong. Betweenhis ill-advised Afghanistan surge and the expanded drone war, Obama has been far more of a war president than I expected. Add Syria on top of that and he's a typical "shoot first" American hawk. He's a bit smoother than his predecessor and I'm sure he ponders the situation more than GWB but in the end, he sends in the drones and cruise missiles. Somehow I was hoping that Obama would be smart enough to maneuver the US in the world without resorting to military force.
I agree with the president that using chemical weapons should not be ignored. I don't know what the most effective response is but I know that it is not a unilateral American missile attack. Upholding and enforcing an international norm is an international responsibility. America has plenty of allies who also condemn chemical weapons use in Syria but few share our taste for military force. Obama would disappoint me less if he sought to mobilize serious diplomatic and economic international actions against the Syrian regime rather than simply launching a missile attack. Something like this, maybe.
Even more than Obama, John Kerry has disappointed me. Here's a fellow Vietnam veteran who once spoke eloquently about a mistaken war now shilling for an uncertain military action with no clear objective in the midst of a civil war and regional unrest in which the US has no good choices. I was disappointed with Kerry as a presidential candidate so I guess this is no surprise. I was proud of him as a Vietnam Veteran Against the War, speaking before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during Dewey Canyon III. He was a powerful image of veteran opposition to war at a time when I was humping the boonies in Vietnam. Later as a member of VVAW, I learned that Kerry was regarded by some VVAW leaders as a self-promoting opportunist. He certainly never acted strongly on those anti-war in later years as a senator and his "I was before the [Iraq] war before I was against it" was a barely-concealed attempt to play both sides of the issue.
So these days John Kerry is playing the hawk who would protect us from another Hitler at Munich, another Holocaust and a world full of proliferating nuclear weapons starting with Iran's. These are the same arguments we heard about Vietnam and so many of America's military actions in the years since. Those canards are as bogus now as they were then.
Barack Obama was smart enough to see the folly of the Iraq war in 2003. John Kerry saw war's folly his youth. Age and experience does not guarantee wisdom.