Oil spewing from a leak on the ocean floor following the explosion of a drilling rig killed marine life and damaged the pristine gulf shoreline. While recognizing responsibility to clean up the environmental mess it caused, BP focused first on capping the well to prevent further damage, taking 87 days to do so.
No matter how devastating the environmental damage, BP's priority was to fix the problem at its source first. Had it failed to do so, oil still would be spewing into the gulf today.
In proposing military action against Syria, Obama fails to focus upon the source of the Syria problem.
This problem's source lies not in Damascus, but in Tehran. Not only does Iran play the role of puppet master to Syria's puppet President Bashar Assad, it plays similar roles in Iraq and Lebanon. Most regional turmoil today was triggered with the assent of Tehran's mullahs to power in 1979.
Since then, seven men have served as Iranian president -- labeled variously by the West as moderates or conservatives. During the same 37-year timeframe, only two supreme leaders have served. Approved in advance by the supreme leaders, the seven presidents were subservient to them.
The supreme leaders manipulated their support of a presidential candidate, assessed by the West either as "moderate" or "conservative," based on what was needed to give false hope change was in the wind.
Thus, most recently, a perceived moderate by the West, President Hassan Rouhani, was needed to follow "conservative" President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to provide such hope as Iran's nuclear weapons program heads toward completion.
As the names of Iran's presidents have changed, the goals of its two supreme leaders remained constant. The supreme leader calls the shots and when a president, such as Ahmadinejad, bucked clerical authority, he suffered the wrath of the country's religious leaders.
Various U.S. administrations endeavor to understand the mindset of each new Iranian administration, failing to recognize it remains constant as both supreme leaders pursued the same goal.
That goal is set forth in the country's constitution -- Tehran being the only member of the international community to memorialize in its constitution its intention to affect every other member country by spreading the Islamic revolution globally. Tehran believes this revolution will trigger an eschatological prophecy -- the return, from a state of occultation entered in the ninth century, of the 12th Imam (or "Mahdi") who ultimately will establish a world caliphate entirely ruled by Shariah law. The constitution provides upon this "superhero's" return, he replaces the supreme leader.
A critical step in triggering this return is world chaos. Thus, both supreme leaders have sought to develop nuclear weapons.
As Tehran does all it can to keep Assad in power, it continues to move full speed ahead in developing these weapons. With so-called "moderate" Rouhani sounding much less antagonistic than his predecessor and agreeing to another round of nuclear talks, the new president moves forward to achieve the supreme leader's goal under a false flag of change.
Delaying military action against Syria to obtain congressional approval denies Obama the element of surprise, allowing Assad's forces to take up hiding positions among the civilian population.
It is probably unnecessary as Obama has also lost the advantage of keeping Assad guessing as to U.S. attack plans. Obama foolishly clarified this by saying he seeks no disruption in the balance of power between government and rebel forces.
Just as Obama naively provided an incentive to the Taliban to stay the course in Afghanistan by accompanying his announcement of a U.S. troop surge with an acknowledgement it would only be temporary, he naively incentivizes Assad to stay the course of killing his own people.
Iran has been responsible for more U.S. deaths than any other country since the Vietnam War. It has been a catalyst in numerous violent acts against U.S. assets, beginning in 1983 with the Beirut bombing of the U.S. Marine barracks as a test of American resolve.
Encouraged by no U.S. response, Iran played a role in other attacks, including 9/11. It has provided improvised explosive devices to anti-U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan responsible for most U.S. casualties in those wars.
Iran clearly is at war with an America in denial. Based on Tehran's violent acts against the United States, no formal declaration of war against it is required.
Assad fails to make any move without Tehran's approval. Thus, it is Iran that approved introducing chemical weapons onto the Syrian battlefield. Regardless of what military action the United States takes against Syria, or fails to take, Iran's war against the United States and its role as the greatest purveyor of violence in the world will continue, as will its quest for nuclear weapons.
Obama views Syria in a vacuum. He fails to recognize Syria and Iran are conjoined twins with but one controlling head -- situated in Tehran.
Iran relishes the successful forward movement of its agenda as its twin gets blamed, possibly suffering a hand slap from the United States as punishment but resolution of regional violence -- both present and future -- demands confronting the controlling twin.
For Obama to focus solely on military action against Syria is time, money, effort and possibly more U.S. lives wasted.
Why look to Damascus when Tehran controls that flow, one which will only increase if not stopped now before Iran is nuclear armed?
BP clearly recognized the futility of not focusing first on capping the source of the problem. Obama and Congress must now do the same.
(A retired U.S. Marine, Lt. Col. James Zumwalt served in the Vietnam War, the U.S. invasion of Panama and the first Gulf War. He has written "Bare Feet, Iron Will -- Stories from the Other Side of Vietnam's Battlefields," "Living the Juche Lie: North Korea's Kim Dynasty" and "Doomsday: Iran -- The Clock is Ticking.")
(United Press International's "Outside View" commentaries are written by outside contributors who specialize in a variety of important issues. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of United Press International. In the interests of creating an open forum, original submissions are invited.)