The Campaign Spot

Should Syria Matter in the Virginia Governor’s Race?

Should Syria matter in the Virginia governor’s race?

Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II said Thursday that he is opposed to U.S. military intervention in Syria, just hours after his foe in the Virginia governor’s race, businessman Terry McAuliffe, declined to take a position on the thorny topic.

While the governor of Virginia has no real role in national-security policy, the possibility of war that is dominating the news is probably what’s on voters’ minds right now. One former GOP county chair e-mails me this could resonate because of the number of military families in the state.

And while military families aren’t a monolith, an op-ed in the Washington Post suggests that there’s a great deal of wariness and skepticism in the ranks about military action in Syria.

Robert H. Scales, a retired Army major general and a former commandant of the U.S. Army War College, writes:

The tapes tell the tale. Go back and look at images of our nation’s most senior soldier, Gen. Martin Dempsey, and his body language during Tuesday’s Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearings on Syria. It’s pretty obvious that Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, doesn’t want this war. As Secretary of State John Kerry’s thundering voice and arm-waving redounded in rage against Bashar al-Assad’s atrocities, Dempsey was largely (and respectfully) silent.

Dempsey’s unspoken words reflect the opinions of most serving military leaders. By no means do I profess to speak on behalf of all of our men and women in uniform. But I can justifiably share the sentiments of those inside the Pentagon and elsewhere who write the plans and develop strategies for fighting our wars. After personal exchanges with dozens of active and retired soldiers in recent days, I feel confident that what follows represents the overwhelming opinion of serving professionals who have been intimate witnesses to the unfolding events that will lead the United States into its next war.

They are embarrassed to be associated with the amateurism of the Obama administration’s attempts to craft a plan that makes strategic sense. None of the White House staff has any experience in war or understands it. So far, at least, this path to war violates every principle of war, including the element of surprise, achieving mass and having a clearly defined and obtainable objective . . . 

More accurately, it’s hard to believe that Terry McAuliffe genuinely has no opinion about military action in Syria, Most likely, he has an opinion (perhaps a conflicted one) and doesn’t want to tell the rest of us what it is.

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