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TheStreet Open House

Syria: The War Dog That Did Not Bark

Stocks in this article: LMTNOCHAL

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- It was all too frightening, and coming as it did so close to the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, it was all too familiar.

The war drums were beating. There were pictures of dead children. There was talk of threats in the Middle East requiring a military response.

Then on Tuesday night the president spoke, a different president from last time. After a few minutes I turned back to a soccer game.

The U.S., which I prefer to call by its Spanish name Estados Unidos for soccer purposes, was playing our archrival, Mexico, with World Cup qualification on the line. We won 2-0 -- in Spanish, dos a cero.

I found the soccer more enticing because the war did not start, the Russians did not back the dictator and the dictator said he would put the chemical weapons beyond use. The president, it seemed, would get what he wanted without war.

Why? Maybe it was because Assad's attack with sarin gas killed just 1 in 10 of its intended victims, and the blowback was too much for him to bear. Maybe it was because Russia is now more threatened by Islamic terrorists in Dagestan, Chechnya and its "near abroad" than we are in New York or Chicago.

Our Peter Morici, no friend of this president's, called the outcome in Syria "yet another management failure." He thinks the president should have called out the Air Force immediately, without going to Congress, and taken the heat.

With all due respect to Morici, George Bush is no longer president.

Thomas Jefferson is not on the ballot in Syria. Most Americans see Syria as a battle between forces backed by al Qaeda and a dictator representing just the 10% of the country that is Alawite. We see both sides as evildoers, in the language of the last president. They're scorpions in a bottle; why not let them kill each other?

Of course, there are actors more directly involved, and U.S. interests at stake. The Gulf states, the Arab League, they were all pushing for action. Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan face an immense humanitarian crisis that could breed more terrorists unless it's addressed. Israel is nervous, with itchy trigger fingers in Jerusalem.

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