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Obama's Muddled Message on Syria

Last night Barack Obama took his case to the American people. What we witnessed has been described as “muddled,” “mixed,” “odd” … you get the picture.

I cannot understand for the life of me why Obama even bothered to make this address to the nation. If you don't have a clear point to make, Mr. President, don't waste our time. Obama essentially said that the United States still must respond to Assad's use of chemical weapons, reiterating that Assad is responsible but offering no proof to the American people. But then he goes on to ask Congress to postpone any vote for action. He spent much of the speech telling the American people what he wouldn't do, rather than explaining how Assad directly threatens our national security interests.

According to reports, Russia has now given the United States its plan for putting Syria's chemical weapons under international control. Meanwhile, Russia is warning that threats of a U.S. missile strike could derail the whole deal. It also warns that cooperation with the United States in Afghanistan could be compromised if the U.S. engages in a military strike. It also threatened to increase arm sales to Iran if a strike occurs. Speaking of Iran, its leaders are warning that all options are on the table in the case of a U.S. military strike, promising a “firm, decisive and powerful” response. According to the Daily Caller, “The Islamic regime’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, on Thursday warned that America was sure to 'suffer loss' should it attack Syria.” And on top of all that, we have a report from the AFP that Russia will supply Iran with air defense missile systems and help Iran to build a second nuclear reactor. Russia-Syria-Iran, Obama is being played by all of these actors on the world stage. He is backed himself into the corner of HAVING to trust that Russia's plan will work, otherwise an unapproved military strike threatens retaliation from Russia, Syria and Iran.

A panel of experts spoke before the House Committee on Homeland Security this week and warned about Obama's pinprick approach if Syria does not comply. For example, Dr. Stephen Biddle, a Fellow for Defense Policy at the Council on Foreign Relations, says, “Limited strikes now thus do not settle the credibility question: we will always be sending the Iranians ambiguous signals unless we commit more force that the stakes here are worth to us.” You can read more testimony here in the Washington Free Beacon.

WSJ's Peggy Noonan puts it like this: “A serious foreign-policy intellectual said recently that Putin’s problem is that he’s a Russian leader in search of a Nixon, a U.S. president he can really negotiate with, a stone player who can talk grand strategy and the needs of his nation, someone with whom he can thrash it through and work it out. Instead he has Obama, a self-besotted charismatic who can’t tell the difference between showbiz and strategy, and who enjoys unburdening himself of moral insights to his peers.”

Even Maureen Dowd of the New York Times called out Obama’s “flip-flopping, ambivalent leadership” on Syria. She labeled it “amateur hour.” That's exactly what it feels like – Like the Keystone Cops have stolen the keys to the White House, the most powerful position in the world.

There's a reason why a new Fox News poll finds that 38% of Americans feel the United States is less safe today than before the terrorist attacks 12 years ago. Another poll finds that that “64% of Americans–including 68% of independents and 41% of Democrats–answered 'worse' or 'about the same' when asked what they thought of Obama’s handling of foreign policy when compared with Bush.” That's pretty unbelievably. Way to go, President Hope and Change.