Hawks, doves alike have Middle East fatigue

By Ken Esten Cooke— When, in the course of human events, a mission becomes an exercise in frustration, it is time to back away.

We paraphrase the opening line of the Declaration of Independence to declare that we are among those tired of trying to clean up and babysit every vested interest in the Middle East. Though this is written before the president’s Tuesday night public address, we are both weary and wary of further military involvement in the Middle East.

There is no doubt that Syria is run by a ruthless dictator who has killed tens of thousands of his own citizens. There is ample evidence that he is responsible for the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafic Hariri in 2005, a well-regarded Middle Eastern leader.

But after more than a decade of involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq — not to mention detours into Libya, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen — it is time to let citizens of those countries take responsibility for their own welfare.

The cost in both lives and treasure has been enormous. More than 6,700 American fighting men and women have been killed and the price tag has surpassed $1.4 trillion.  Another 50,000-plus troops have been injured and face long recoveries and need support.

We do not claim that these wars were baseless or without merit. The United States suffered the worst attack on domestic soil 12 years ago today, and it was absolutely necessary to dismantle terrorist groups and the Taliban who sheltered them.

But, 12 years later, we are tired of what is seeming to be a constant war effort. We don’t believe that Syria poses enough of a threat to justify going into yet another country, nor do we believe lobbing a few cruise missiles will solve much of anything.

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