Over the weekend Obama did his best to punt potential blame for action in Syria to Congress, suddenly seeking Congressional approval after already asserting his power to act. Now Obama has taken matters to the next level by attempting to re-write history when it comes to his comment about “red lines.”
Last August (2012) Obama made the statement: “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 … 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.”
Yet here we are, over a year later and Obama is trying to back peddle on HIS statement about red lines. In a joint press conference this morning in Sweden, Obama actually tried to make the case that HE didn't set the red line. Here's a transcript, courtesy of the Weekly Standard: "First of all, 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 [inaudble] and passed a treaty forbidding their use, even when countries are 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 entitled the Syria Accountability Act that some of the horrendous things happening on the ground there need to be answered for. So, when I said in a press conference that my calculus about what's happening in Syria would be altered by the use of chemical weapons, which the overwhelming consensus of humanity says is wrong, that wasn't something I just kind of made up. I didn't pluck it out of thin air. There's a reason for it."
This is twice now in the last few days that Obama has tried to shirk the responsibility for his rhetoric. The problem with Obama is that he is really good at talking, but he is not good when it comes to governing. For years now, Obama's rhetoric has not matched his actions. For the most part, he has been able to get away with this domestically because we have a media that works diligently to prop him up and an electorate that is mostly ignorant or simply doesn't care. But when it comes to foreign policy, words matter a great deal. This has finally come back to bite Obama in the form of a “red line” he drew in the sand on Syria. His attempt to pass the blame onto Congress and the world is laughable. Who even takes this guy seriously anymore? If Obama can't stand up and take responsibility, speak and act with clarity and conviction, and execute a coherent strategy, then he has no business being president of the United States. He endangers our security, our credibility and the security of our allies.
I'm still dumbfounded as to what the ultimate goal is in Syria and why this administration feels it can achieve anything after telegraphing exactly what it plans to do. We've already told the world that the United States will engage in limited (days not weeks) strikes, won't put boots on the ground and will not attempt a regime change. We've now delayed this action, allowing for potential targets to disperse and prepare. What is the point of acting at all if there's no real goal at stake and our enemies already know what to expect? Not to mention the fact that nearly six out of every ten Americans is opposed to this action, according to the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll.
If we really cared about peace and stability and are worried about a broad war, then why wouldn't we just cut to the chase and focus on Iran? That's the proxy war that is really playing out here. Why not go in there and decimate its nuclear facilities, leaving the radical factions in Syria to duke it out? I'm not saying that's the best course of action or advocating for war with Iran, but isn't that essentially what we are talking about here when we are talking about Syria?
Ah, but people are concerned about Syria as a humanitarian crisis. If that's truly their concern, why weren't they concerned when the first 100,000 people were killed? Why aren't more people speaking out and showing more concern for the 2+ million refugees now fleeing into Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, Iraq, Turkey? According to the United Nations, almost 5,000 Syrians flee the country every day. The U.N. predicts that “by the end of 2013, about 10.25 million Syrians will need aid, including 3.5 million refugees and 6.8 million Syrians inside their country, many of whom will be displaced from their homes. Those 10.25 million people would equal 46% of Syria’s population.” The fourth largest city in Jordan is now a Syrian refugee camp! If we are worried about the humanitarian aspect of things, we can start with those who have already fled or are trying to flee.
Here's a question to consider: If action is taken and Assad or Iran or Russia retaliate against Israel (and we are naïve to think that they won't), do you think the United States would have the guts to act? With Obama in the White House, I no longer have confidence that we would.
There's one more point that I want to make about Obama's attempt to shift the “red line” blame to the world. What we are seeing is not a foreign policy strategy but a campaign-style tactic of PR politics. The Washington Post has a story, “To sell Syria strike, White House turns to Obama brain trust.” To sell the strike? Just like ObamaCare, Obama and his team do not believe that their problem is the policy or strategy but merely the sales pitch. It's no coincidence that Obama comes out with this “world's red line” comment a day after having a strategy meeting with his “brain trust” at the White House. But this meeting wasn't about discussing the merits of a strike on Syria or the level of engagement or other alternatives. Nope. This meeting was with his communications staff and many of the people who assisted Obama during his presidential campaign: “The group included men and women steeped in politics as well as communications and national security: former senior advisers David Axelrod and David Plouffe; Robert Gibbs, who served as White House press secretary; former White House communications director Anita Dunn; Stephanie Cutter , who served as deputy campaign manager for Obama’s 2012 campaign; Tommy Vietor, former National Security Council spokesman; and Jon Favreau, who was the president’s speechwriter. Vietor and Favreau now have a joint communications firm.” So when it doubt, Obama immediately reverts to campaign mode! When is someone going to break it to Obama that the campaign is over and it is time to govern?
Now, for those of you trying to keep up with the very latest on Syria, here are other important stories related to this volatile topic:
Sen. John McCain says he doesn't support the latest Senate resolution to authorize military force against Syria.
Putin said Russia did not rule out approving a military operation in Syria if clear evidence showed Damascus had carried out chemical weapons attacks, but said any attack would be illegal without U.N. support.
The surprise decision by Barack Obama to seek approval from Congress before authorizing military strikes against Assad has cast doubt on France’s own course of action.
"The feeling is that something was wrong here, that this was not the way this should have gone down, that this is not the way a superpower should act.”
Iraq's prime minister is warning that an outside military strike on neighboring Syria could have unforeseen consequences.
Judging from a letter Nancy Pelosi sent to her House Dem colleagues, she is gung ho for an attack on Syria — something that is curiously uncharacteristic of her (during Republican administrations at least).
Testifying on Capitol Hill, Secretary of State John Kerry just made a stunning admission...
“... We believe in what Obama said as his logo in elections, a change, yes we can, and yes we need. In Syria itself as well as outside of Syria, the whole area needs peace.”