Syria: The War Dog That Did Not Bark

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.

Now that we've given our consent to the killing continuing, I personally think it would be in our interest to put lots of boots on the ground, on the land of Syria's neighbors. Boots carrying food, water, shelter and medicine. I think that would do more for America's image right now than 1,000 cruise missiles.

Morici warns that inaction will harden Assad's resolve, that the Russians can't be trusted, and that American credibility has been damaged. Maybe the crisis is not yet over.

But economically, this is a big win for the markets. Fear keeps oil prices high, and high oil prices are now a huge benefit to us. Thanks to shale oil, and shale gas, and the cheapest form of renewable energy, which is efficiency, the U.S. economy is accelerating on its own, for the first time this decade, and there is money to be made.

Greed is a big winner in this crisis. The S&P 500 is up almost 18% so far this year. The Dow is up 16%. The Russell 2000 is up 24%. Travel is up, car sales are up, house prices are up and unemployment is down.

Even the defense stocks are up. Lockheed Martin ( LMT) is up 35% so far this year. Northrup Grumman ( NOC) is up 40%. Halliburton ( HAL) is up 44%. (Cha-ching, Dick Cheney.)

If this is failure, I suggest we make the most of it. In the wake of this crisis, President Bush's advice for Americans facing the Iraq war comes to mind.

Let's go shopping.

At the time of publication, the author no shares in companies mentioned in this article. But he's long America.

This article is commentary by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.

Dana Blankenhorn has been a business journalist since 1978, and a tech reporter since 1982. His specialty has been getting to the future ahead of the crowd, then leaving before success arrived. That meant covering the Internet in 1985, e-commerce in 1994, the Internet of Things in 2005, open source in 2005 and, since 2010, renewable energy. He has written for every medium from newspapers and magazines to Web sites, from books to blogs. He still seeks tomorrow from his Craftsman home in Atlanta.

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