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Kathleen Parker: Talking ourselves out of war

BY KATHLEEN PARKER Published: September 12, 2013

Rarely, if ever, has so much talk preceded a proposed military strike.

Most administrations contemplating military action worry about an exit strategy. The Obama administration seems to be in search of an entrance strategy.

Or is it that we're trying to talk ourselves out of this mess?

As war goes, a war of words seems a better option. Less blood and death if, at times, more ennui and head-clutching frustration. In that vein, the past several weeks have provided an embarrassment of riches.

Just this week, we've heard from the president and his many minions, surrogates and converts. Despite all best efforts, public consensus for cruise missile strikes against Syria has not taken shape. The reason may be partly war weariness, but surely much of the problem lies in the odd formulations leading up to this non-war.

There is certainly merit to discussing military action carefully in advance of deployment, but such lengthy, often confusing, verbal perambulations as we've witnessed the past several weeks — stressing the urgency of taking action while repeatedly postponing action pending fill-in-the-blank — do create fresh sets of problems.

The sense created by so much clearing of throats has been that one is not quite certain of one's intentions, and, therefore, one's rationale for war. President Obama's reticence is understandable but also disconcerting. Creating and then moving a red line is inherently problematic and otherwise lacking in, shall we say, clarity. Another hitch, commensurate with the preceding, is a rising trust deficit among the American people, not to mention the world, followed by a lack of will. If war is not urgent, as this one seems not to be, then perhaps war is not necessary.

Imagine, as a dead poet once crooned.

Then there is this appealing thought: Once nations reach the point of talking a war to death, rather than fighting one to the death — a coalition of the unwilling — aren't they participants in some sort of tipping point? We talk ourselves out of things all the time. Why not talk ourselves out of war?

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