America is in trouble. Western civilization is in trouble. President Obama’s self-inflicted, festering wound over Syria is only the latest manifestation of a foreign policy rife with neglect, dumbfounding incompetence, inability to tell deadly enemies from allies (and here I assume it’s not a preference for enemies), grotesquely overblown ego, and the substitution of insubstantial and ever-changing rhetoric for policy.
As the invaluable Victor Davis Hanson recently noted, if it wasn’t Syria, it would be something else. Actually, it has been something else already. Three examples: Mr. Obama’s fecklessly embarrassing “red lines” repeatedly drawn over Iran’s nuclear program; intervening in Libya and turning a stable nation into a hotbed of terrorist activity; and what may turn out to be a three-stooges-like weapons deal with Al Qaeda in Benghazi that cost the lives of four American patriots and may cost many more. There was no question Mr. Obama’s utter lack of qualification for the presidency, his foolhardy bluster, his Marxist tendencies, radical Muslim sympathies and unlimited self-regard would result in a world-shaking debacle. It was only a matter of time.
Let’s review the issues that face us:
Combatants: The Syrian armed forces are allied with terrorists, including Hezbollah, which is a client of Iran. The opposition of the Syrian armed forces are terrorists, and allied with terrorists, and Iran. Maybe there is a radical Islamist “moderate” in there somewhere, but that probably means they might use a sharp rather than a rusty and dull knife to saw off the head of a western hostage on You Tube. Everyone fighting in Syria is an enemy of America, of democracy, of individual liberty, of Israel, and of western civilization to one degree or another, and the few that may not be will surely not arise from the ashes in any position of power or influence.
Our National Security Team: Never in American history has a president appointed a team of such obvious lightweights, incompetents, serial liars, and buffoons. Virtually all have long records of opposing America, her allies, and of supporting her enemies.
Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel is either a serial liar, willing to sell his soul for political advantage, or a complete nitwit.
Secretary of State John Kerry is a serial liar and sold his soul for political advantage even before leaving the U.S. Navy, where he faked records to award himself medals he did not earn and to manipulate an early discharge. He immediately and without evidence accused his fellow sailors, soldiers and marines of war crimes, and gave aid and comfort to the enemy. During his time in the senate, he consistently supported communists. He has consistently supported and apologized for the Syrian regime, and wrote a letter of support for Code Pink activists for their visit to Hamas. Kerry is very much against the Tea Party movement and its ideals of small government, and uttered the definitive flip flopper statement when running for president in 2003:
I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it.
National Security Advisor Susan Rice is a life long black activist, democrat and democrat bureaucrat and operative. Serving in the Clinton Administration, she played a key role in doing nothing to end genocide and ethnic cleansing in Africa. She also consistently downplayed the dangers posed by Islamic radicals.
UN Ambassador Samantha Power has a long history of opposition to Israel. She has also written that America should apologize to the world for its imagined past failings. She has also been a long time advocate of diplomacy with the Iranian mullahs. Her naivete is actually stunning. She said:
“We worked with the UN to create a group of inspectors and then worked for more than six months to get them access to the country on the logic that perhaps the presence of an investigative team in the country might deter future attacks,’ Power said at the Center for American Progress as she made the case for intervening in Syria.
‘Or, if not, at a minimum, we thought perhaps a shared evidentiary base could convince Russia or Iran — itself a victim of Saddam Hussein’s monstrous chemical weapons attacks in 1987-1988 — to cast loose a regime that was gassing it’s people,’ she said.’
The Syrians would be deterred by the UN?! The Iranians would abandon the Syrians for using poison gas?! This is our UN ambassador?! And one might reasonably presume “we” to be the Obama Administration. No wonder we’re in such trouble.
Foot In Mouth: News Conference, August 20, 2012. President Barack Obama:
We have been very clear to the Assad regime, but also to other players on the ground, that a red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized. That would change my calculus. That would change my equation.’
‘What I’m saying is, we’re monitoring that situation very carefully. We have put together a range of contingency plans. We have communicated in no uncertain terms with every player in the region that that’s a red line for us and that there would be enormous consequences if we start seeing movement on the chemical weapons front or the use of chemical weapons. That would change my calculations significantly.
No Responsibility: Press Conference in Sweden, September 4, 2013. President Obama:
I didn’t set a red line. The world set a red line. The world set a red line when governments representing 98 percent of the world’s population said the use of chemical weapons are abhorrent and passed a treaty preventing their use even when a country is engaged in war. Congress set a red line when it ratified that treaty. Congress set a red line when it indicated that in a piece of legislation titled the Syria Accountability Act that some of the horrendous things that are happening on the ground there need to be answered for.’
‘My credibility is not on the line. The international community’s credibility is on the line. And America and Congress’s credibility is on the line because we give lip service to the notion that these international norms are important.
Historical Parallel: Some claim that America went to war with Iraq because Saddam Hussein used chemical weapons on his own people, but that was only one of many reasons cited by the United Nations. President George W. Bush assembled a military–not rhetorical–coalition of 40 nations and won a resolution from the United Nations.
Hussein used chemical weapons during his war with Iran, and chemical and biological weapons were found in Iraq, but not the large stockpiles the world expected. Those were transferred to Syria before the coalition attacked.
In the approximately two years of the Syrian civil war, chemical weapons have been used some 12-14 times, including after Mr. Obama’s 2012 drawing of a red line he didn’t draw, and he did nothing about it until the most recent chemical weapon attack.
The Plan: There isn’t one, at least not a coherent, rational plan. Mr. Obama has floated the idea of a “limited” strike lasting only a day or so, which has expanded to various nebulous plans for longer strikes, and Secretary Kerry will not rule out incursion by US troops. There is absolutely no “after the limited strike” plan, nor any idea what any strike might accomplish or why that would be a good thing for America, Israel, or the world.
Our military is certainly capable of doing damage, but to what end? And why would that damage cause Assad to change his ways?
The Military: Our Military isn’t enthusiastic–to say the least–about an incursion in Syria. There is no clear plan, no clear military objective, no way to know when we’ve “won,” and no way to know that we won’t be drawn into a longer and more destructive conflict.
Lobbing cruise missiles, at around a million dollars each, is a very expensive way to “send a message,” particularly since the Obama Administration is cutting the military to the bone and whining about the sequester.
In addition, Mr. Obama’s dithering has allowed the Syrian regime to hide and prepare its most vulnerable assets, greatly reducing the damage any strike could do, at least in the short term. This idiotic telegraphing of US intentions has also greatly increased the danger to the lives of any US personnel involved in future strikes.
The military also understands that both sides in the war are the enemies of America. When both of your enemies are killing each other, why do anything to stop them?
The Status Quo:
It is now known that when Mr. Obama drew his red line in 2012, he went off teleprompter, something that rightly horrifies his handlers, as whenever that happens, the greatest orator in history makes serious and embarrassing mistakes. He unmistakably promised “enormous consequences” for nothing more than “if we start seeing movement on the chemical weapons front…” And when there was more than movement 12-14 times, he said little and did nothing. He made, in the language of diplomacy and foreign relations, a dire and specific threat, yet he did not consult with Congress prior to making it, and he did nothing to enforce it, time after time.
The United Nations–and this is hardly a surprise–will do nothing to assist the Nobel Prize winner and savior of mankind, and only the French are suggesting they might provide some military support. However, skeptics will be heartened to hear that the State Department has announced that nine or so nations have announced potential rhetorical support for Mr. Obama.
One of the arguments Mr. Obama and his supporters are now making is that since Mr. Obama made the threat (which he didn’t make), America’s credibility is on the line. If we don’t take military action, who will respect Mr. Obama and believe he’ll take future action? We must act to preserve American credibility!
Mr. Obama is neither feared nor respected, and has not been for many years. His feckless serial red line drawing and date certain setting with Iran’s nuclear program blew what little credibility he might have had long ago. One can only say “OK, you’ve got until next week to do X or there will be real consequences,” and when that date passes and nothing is done say “Now you’ve got until next week to do X or there will be really serious consequences, and this time I mean it!” so many times before it becomes laughable. The Iranian mullahs are still laughing.
His utter cluelessness in the Middle East in particular and in foreign policy in general also stands to remove any credibility he might have otherwise possessed. What is the Obama foreign policy? What are its bedrock principles? How and where have they been applied? One might argue that Mr. Obama’s foreign policy consists of assisting radical Islamists, insulting and backstabbing our allies and generally appeasing our enemies. If so–and there is substantial evidence to support this theory–Mr. Obama’s efforts have produced results: all bad for America and the world.
Russia has now promised to get involved if America attacks, and has sent a warship to the waters off Syria. So has China. These are not the acts of states that respect or fear Mr. Obama. Diplomatically, China and Russia are laughing at Mr. Obama because they know he’ll do nothing.
As Mr. Obama would say, make no mistake: rogue nations fear the military might of a focused and aroused America. They laugh at Barack Obama.
At the moment, the Obama Administration is claiming absolute certainty that the Syrian regime is responsible for the latest chemical attack. Germany, Russia and other nations have come to widely differing conclusions. Mr. Obama’s credibility is at such a low ebb, it may be wisest to trust others.
Mr. Obama’s reliance on his mystical, transformative person and his “soaring rhetoric” have finally come crashing to the ground in flames. That Mr. Obama has a Muslim middle name, lived in Muslim nations as a child, is submissive to Muslim sensibilities and demands to a degree dangerous to world peace, and is reasonably capable of reading a speech from a teleprompter is finally being seen as not only meaningless, but actively dangerous. It always was.
Lowering Expectations: One of the greatest dangers to liberty inherent in the Obama mindset is, with the assistance of the Democrat machine and the Media (but I repeat myself), he has so lowered the moral expectations of the American people and the world that words and acts that would have caused the immediate ouster of any politician in the past now provoke little more than a disgusted sigh, even among Republicans and Independents. Even Democrats, in larger and larger numbers, are timidly admitting buyer’s remorse.
Americans expect politicians to dissemble here and there, and Bill and Hillary Clinton set the pace for shameless public lying, but Barack Obama took the practice to previously unimagined lows.
One can, with little effort, produce video of Mr. Obama, in clear and unequivocal language, drawing a red line for Syria. One can also, with little effort, produce video of Mr. Obama, in clear and unequivocal language, denying that he ever drew a red line and denying that his credibility is on the line. At this point, one expects to look up “liar” in any dictionary and see Mr. Obama’s photo as an illustration. This is not a component of building credibility, domestically or internationally, though it appears to be the very denotation of “smart diplomacy.”
Congress: Mr. Obama, in criticizing President Bush, held strongly to the idea that the president must consult and obtain the approval of Congress before going to war. Now he claims he can do whatever he wants, but he’s going to Congress anyway. Of course, he will not guarantee that he will not do what he wants if Congress withholds it’s consent.
Public sentiment against intervention in Syria is extraordinarily strong because the public rightly sees no compelling American interest in detonating some explosives with no particular goal. Congressional Democrats are getting that message loud and clear.
Republicans don’t want their fingerprints on a ridiculously unpopular military excursion that will almost certainly accomplish nothing and has the very real chance of making things worse–much worse. Why give permission to put American lives at risk to a man they cannot trust to act rationally and professionally?
Persuasion: On Monday, September 9, Mr. Obama will forego campaigning and golf and grant six media interviews to try to make his case to the American public. That alone demonstrates his desperation, his sure knowledge that his credibility–which he lost long ago but is too narcissistic to understand–is on the line. Mr. Obama cares nothing at all about public opinion. He demonstrated that with Obamacare and his abortive gun control push. That he is giving one of those interviews to Fox News demonstrates near panic. On Tuesday, he will address the American people directly. Absolute panic.
Mr. Obama will argue that chemical weapons are terrible, and they are, but they’ve already been used many times in Syria. Weren’t they terrible then? Aren’t mass deaths via bullet and bomb terrible? He will argue that America must act to stop the use of weapons of mass destruction. How about Iran Mr. President? He will lie again and argue that America’s credibility is on the line. We’ve ignored far greater acts of genocide and slaughter–including enough blood to stain satellite photos of Africa and the Middle East red–throughout the world. Why is this different?
Unless Mr. Obama can convincingly prove that America’s national security interests are involved, unless he can articulate clear military goals, unless he can explain when and how those goals will be met, unless he can explain how his dithering hasn’t wasted every military advantage we might have once had, unless he can show the kind of leadership he has been completely unable to summon to date, why should anyone agree with him?
Photos of and crocodile tears shed over dead children mean nothing when there are thousands of such photos from scores of conflicts about which Mr. Obama has done nothing and shed not a single tear. What emotions will he display when the Syrian regime–and the Islamists fighting it–provide photos of dead children ostensibly killed in American military strikes? Even if we don’t cause a single collateral casualty, such photos will be plastered across every TV screen magazine cover and front page around the world.
Why should anyone believe a man asking us to enforce a red line he is blaming on others? What kind of a commander in chief takes credit for the heroism of others, refuses to take any responsibility and blames others–for everything?
On Monday and Tuesday we’ll see if he can lower the moral bar even more.