Opinion: No to Strikes in Syria

PHOTO: Syrian rebel Abo Shuja/AFP/Getty Images
A Syrian rebel fires as a regime fighter jet flies overhead in Syria's eastern town of Deir Ezzor, August 17, 2013.

OPINION by Rick Santorum

Events in Syria remind us that President Obama has shown a complete inability to effectively solve problems or protect our national security interests in the Middle East.

At a time when the world badly needs international leadership and consensus, President Obama's disengaged foreign policy has failed America and failed the world. As is too often the case, the President's detached foreign policy has compromised regional stability, the national security of our allies, and our own security needs.

Frankly, I am surprised that President Obama has not made more of an effort to engage members of the United Nations Security Council or other nations so as to craft a unified position on how to respond to the government of Syria's use of chemical weapons.

Diplomacy isn't easy work. I worry that this administration threw in the towel too quickly with respect to doing the hard work necessary to build an international consensus.

We saw one of the consequences of this when Great Britain's House of Commons voted against a military intervention in Syria.

The leaders of our closest ally, Great Britain, saw no reason to stand with us, because over the past two years we have shown no commitment or courage to confront those in Syria responsible for the deaths of thousands and the displacement and misery of many millions more.

If the President had chosen to intervene when the civil war started, as I had supported, we would have had an opportunity to equip and support the pro-Democracy forces who would have given the country the best chance for stability.

But the president did nothing, and now we pay the price. We have a very different situation today as al Qaeda has emerged as the dominant rebel force and the Syrian regime is in a much stronger position because of its support from Iran and Hezbollah.

After many months of no action, the President is now in the position of ordering a military strike because of a "red line" the Syrian regime crossed when it used chemical weapons on its own people. Though that "red line" is one he drew and set as the test for our involvement, he has backed off that and is trying to pass on responsibility to Congress.

He has also cited a piece of legislation I authored called the Syria Accountability Act as an additional rationale for a strike.

This legislation had nothing to do with what Assad did to his own people, but was passed because of the Syrian threat in Lebanon a decade ago. For President Obama to now cite this bill as a reason to take military action is a complete misrepresentation of the facts.

The Syria Accountability Act provided for economic and political sanctions if the act was violated, not military intervention.

Sadly, we will now face the consequences of failing to get out in front of this sooner as there now appears to be no good outcomes. An al Qaeda-run Syria is no better than an Assad-Iran-Hezbollah-run Syria. And a military strike now won't do us or the world any good.

Now that the President is seeking Congressional authorization, and wants to share the burden of this decision, I urge my former colleagues to vote against such action. This is a failure on every front, and we should have done more when there was something we could have actually done to mitigate the situation in Syria.

Opinions expressed in this piece are those of Rick Santorum and are not endorsed by ABC News.

Rick Santorum is a former U.S. Senator of Pennsylvania and ran for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012.