August 31, 2013
Punting from the End Zone
"This could be a long series of articles," said a certain ace reporter to her boss Perry White in the first Superman movie. "Making sense of senseless killings by Lois Lane." As I recall, Perry didn't care too much for the idea -- but I thought it might be a good time to resurrect it, only with a modern twist: Making Sense of Senseless Foreign Policy by Korso.
I didn't have to look too far for inspiration:
The president, in a surprise decision Saturday, announced he would seek a vote in Congress on launching a military attack against the Assad regime.
One senior State Department official, though, told Fox News that the president’s goal to take military action will indeed be carried out, regardless of whether Congress votes to approve the use of force.
Other senior administration officials said Obama is merely leaving the door open to that possibility. They say he would prefer that Congress approve a military attack on the Assad regime, in response to its alleged use of chemical weapons, and will wait to see what Congress does before making any final decisions on authorizing military force.
Everybody got that?
Admittedly, I had to read it a couple of times before it sank in-- but that only left me more confused, kind of like the one time I tried to watch Pink Floyd The Wall without the benefit of alcohol. Thankfully there was beer in the fridge, and after a wee heavy things actually started to make more sense. You see, the trick is to look at everything this administration does the same way the administration does -- i.e., through a political prism. Once you take that into account, you realize that the president isn't necessarily thinking about Syria in terms of what's best for national security and America's image in the world, but instead what's going to make Barack Obama look the least bad.
In a way, I can't really blame him for this one. In terms of Syria and its use of chemical weapons against their own people, we don't have any good options. Maybe we could have lobbed a couple of cruise missles at Bashar Assad back when he had first used those weapons, and that might have made him think twice about doing it again. But instead of taking action when it mattered, the administration dithered and projected weakness, ignoring its own bluster about "red lines" and letting Assad get away with it. From that point on, he had no reason to take Obama seriously. That tends to happen when you don't follow through on your threats.
So now we're faced with a situation where the only effective means to teach Syria a lesson is military action on a much bigger scale -- and guess what? No sane person in this country wants to jump hip-deep into yet another Middle Eastern basket case of a war, not with our heads still throbbing with a hangover from our involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan. Our president, while not the most astute observer of international relations, understands this -- which is why he doesn't want to get involved either. There's just that pesky business of those red lines, a corner that Obama now wishes he hadn't backed himself into.
So what's a guy left to do? Punt it to Congress, that's what!
Think about it from Obama's point of view. In the unlikely event that Congress approves a military action that 80% of the public doesn't want, he gets political cover for an unpopular decision; but in the far more likely event that they refuse, he can simply shrug and say that the decision was out of his hands. What's the press going to do? Point out the obvious contradiction with Obama's decision to act unilaterally in Libya? That would be a real hoot.
Of course, the official line renains that the administration reserves the right to use a military option even if Congress says no, but I seriously doubt that will happen -- and even if it does, the strikes will probably be so limited that they won't inflict any real damage on the Assad regime. To my mind, that would be worse than doing nothing at all -- a fact the British seem to have absorbed, hence the reason they're sitting this one out. On the other hand, Obama can claim another historical milestone: For the first time in over a century, America could head into battle without its closest ally. Way to go, Mr. President.
Hatched by Korso on this day, August 31, 2013, at the time of 11:53 AM
The following hissed in response by: brotio
Remember when the International Coalition wasn't international enough because it included everyone except France? Now we have an International Coalition of France (maybe).
This is where the Stupid Party is likely to earn its name - again. The Republican leadership seems poised to green-light an attack. They seem to have forgotten about that international coalition the Dems required Bush to assemble before they'd even think of voting on a war resolution.
My recommendation would be for the Republicans to vote "present". Oblunder wants a war, let him have all of it.
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