Operation Enduring Dithering

“When the president of the United States issues an ultimatum to another sovereign nation, he should know in advance what he is going to do if that ultimatum is rejected. But that is not the way Barack Obama operates. Like so many people who are masters of lofty words, he does not pay nearly as much attention to mundane realities….With the mainstream media ready to ooh and aah over his rhetoric, and pass over in silence his policy disasters as president, Obama is home free as far as domestic politics is concerned. But on the world stage, neither America’s enemies nor her allies are hypnotized by his words or his image. Nations that have to decide whether to ally themselves with us or with our enemies understand that they are making life-and-death decisions. It is not about rhetoric, image, or symbolism. It is about whether nations can count on the realism, wisdom, and dependability of the American government.” —Thomas Sowell, Unserious about Syria

“You don’t kill people on principle. You don’t kill them because you drew a line in the sand and they stepped over it. You don’t kill them because you said you would so now you have to or you’ll lose credibility. You don’t even kill people to make the world a better place — if you did, trust me, I can think of a lot of people I’d’ve killed three times over by now. You kill people in defense of life and liberty, yours or someone else’s. Whatever you think of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the 9/11 attacks convinced George W. Bush (and the Congress that was for him before it was against him) that spreading freedom in the Middle East was not just good for Middle Easterners, it was also the best way to keep America safe. Wrong or right, he acted with sound motivation. Without such motivation, we should not commit acts of war.” —Andrew Klavan, Things That Don’t Matter When Deciding on Syria

“The president’s claim that Syria’s use of chemical weapons ‘threatens our national security interests’ is clearly absurd. The danger Syria poses is simply to Obama’s diminishing credibility. Chemical weapons are ghastly, but our revulsion at their use doesn’t amount to facing a threat. Besides, the president’s proposed military wrist-slap will probably have no effect — except to further erode the world’s respect for American power.

“Iran, by contrast, is a menace. Iran hasn’t used chemical weapons on its own people (it tortures and kills in other ways), yet as the chief supporter and weapons supplier to Hezbollah, Hamas and other terror groups, and as a sometime partner to al-Qaida, it does threaten us. Since taking our diplomats hostage in 1979, the Islamic Republic has kept up attacks on the U.S. directly (in Iraq), expanded Hezbollah into South America, allied with American foes like Venezuela and attacked us through terror proxies (as in the 1983 bombing of the Marine barracks in Lebanon). … If Bashar Assad gases the Syrian people with Sarin, it offends our sensibilities. But if the mullahs of Iran achieve their goal of getting nuclear weapons, it is conceivable that nuclear terror could threaten the American people.” —Mona Charen, The Wrong Target on WMDs

“America is on the precipice of a Vanity War. It is one being contemplated by our Narcissist-in-Chief, who painted himself a Big Red Line and dared a sicko thug like Assad to step across it. Not that Bashar was in any hurry to do so. He was doing quite well exterminating more than a hundred thousand of his fellow Syrians using far more conventional methods of death-dealing, all of which were acceptable to the international elitists who now wring their hands in calculated dismay. Apparently, bombs, bullets, napalm, decapitation, rape and the indiscriminate slaughter of men, women and children all lie within limits of the Marquess of Queensberry rules for unrestrained savagery, while gassing people does not. Hence, the newfound high dudgeon of our betters.

“I suppose it would be indelicate to mention that while many of us have known for quite some time that Bashar Assad was a thug, some of our betters did not. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton labeled Assad a ‘reformer’ in 2011. In 2007, current Secretary of State John Kerry predicted that ‘Syria will change as it embraces a legitimate relationship with the United States.’ The same year, former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi promised us that ‘the road to Damascus is a road to peace.’

“Clinton is hiding out, scared to death this little speed bump might come back to haunt her run for the Oval Office in 2016. John ‘Genghis Khan’ Kerry, who sold out his fellow Vietnam vets at the Winter Soldier hearings, is now a hawk’s hawk, and Pelosi remains as clueless as ever. ‘What Assad has done is outside the realm of basic human rights,’ said Nan.” —Arnold Ahlert, A Vanity War

“Obama’s sanctimony about his moral superiority to a Congress he considers insignificant has matched his hypocrisy regarding his diametrically opposed senatorial and presidential understandings of the proper modalities regarding uses of military force. Now he asks from the Congress he disdains an authorization he considers superfluous. By asking, however reluctantly, he begins the urgent task of lancing the boil of executive presumption. And surely he understands the perils of being denied an authorization he has sought, then treating the denial as irrelevant.” —George Will, Now Wanted: An Accomplice

“[Obama] can’t manipulate world perception here. He can’t straddle the line and still save face, and thus far, the statements about the planned strike have been, as Thiessen points out, surreal:  it is a meta-show of force that everyone knows is a ruse, because it is undercut by the admission that no real force will be used.  And all so Obama can show he’s ‘acted’ — that he’s serious, but not necessarily belligerent, that he’s muscular enough that, should he need to, he’d send out additional warning shots before assuring his base that he isn’t interested in regime change. Either Obama is completely out of his depth — and he has signaled that to the Syrian leadership and other world leaders; or else he is actively interested in aiding the rebels, among whom is insinuated al Qaeda. Which means that, like in Egypt, Obama seems interested in helping the enemies of the west take over entire countries, presumably under the assumption that he and his fellow progressives can then tame the brutes and keep them as permanent clients, much like they do with minorities here at home.” —Jeff Goldstein, Say No to a Feckless Syria Strike

“The administration’s plan may be to draw out the drama for as long as possible, saber-rattling while constitutional lawyers and diplomats work to come up with complications, road blocks, and alternatives (Geneva II negotiations!). This generates day-after-day of headlines and pictures of the President looking serious. He’s ready to act—but his great respect for international law and our constitutional principles forces him to be deliberate. All this creates among voters the impression of resolve, without requiring any action.

“This is a cynical view, but I must admit that I think Barack Obama and his team focus on what they do best, which is winning elections, and that they conduct foreign policy accordingly. Thus my despair over the moral cogency of any action in Syria: it will be motivated, planned, and carried out almost solely in accord with and for the sake of domestic political calculations.

“I fear that the President is being counseled (and seeks counsel) about when, how, and under what circumstances to kill people in Damascus—for that’s what ‘punishment’ means—largely with the following question in mind: How can Democrats look strong without risking the disasters that befell the Bush administration and continue to be a political liability for Republicans?” —R. R. Reno, Syria and Domestic Politics

One Response to Operation Enduring Dithering

  1. An amazing montage of commentary on the most confusing events of the century. Really well-put-together, Bob. If you’re willing, we’d love to have a repost. Thanks!

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