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September 5, 2013

The Syrian Gambit: Critical Mass in the Middle East

Republicans Should Not Endorse Obama’s Malfeasance

“There is a rank due to the United States, among nations, which will be withheld, if not absolutely lost, by the reputation of weakness.” –George Washington (1793)

After five years of Barack Hussein Obama’s colossal cluster of foreign policy FUBAR, the Middle East is steadily progressing toward a critical mass meltdown. Obama – and by extension, the U.S. – has become the laughingstock of the entire world – particularly in Tehran, Moscow, Beijing and Pyongyang.

Taking a cue from Bill Clinton’s impotent missile attacks against Osama bin Laden’s al-Qa'ida training camps, Obama wants to launch a hundred million dollars worth of cruise missiles at what may or may not be strategic targets in Syria, ostensibly to eradicate Bashar al-Assad’s chemical weapon stores as punishment for using those weapons on Syrian civilians. Assuming Assad himself actually ordered the chemical attacks rather than Islamist insurgents using those weapons to bait a U.S. military strike, we should have no illusion that the consequences of attacking Syria are, at best, unpredictable, and may far exceed the limited damages inflicted on Assad’s capabilities.

On the eve of another 9/11 anniversary in remembrance of the tragic consequences of Clinton’s “foreign policy,” the “Arab Spring” Obama was touting a couple years ago is looking more like an “Arab Fall,” and making good on his “red line” rhetoric could accelerate the regional meltdown.

A year ago, amid all his other Middle East bluster, and just weeks ahead of the 9/11 Benghazi attack, Obama issued this declaration in regard to Syrian chemical weapons: “A red line for us is, we start seeing a whole bunch of weapons moving around or being utilized. That would change my calculus.”

Apparently, the “whole bunch” threshold has been crossed several times since, but the latest evidence of chemical weapon use has Obama, once again, eating his arrogance.

Running for political cover, he now insists, “I didn’t set a red line. The world set a red line.” So why isn’t the rest of the world behind Obama? Because the rest of the world does not trust Obama, nor should they. Even our closest allies in the UK are not backing him.

Additionally he insists, “My credibility is not on the line. … America and Congress’ credibility is on the line because we give lip service to” responding to the use of chemical weapons. This from the undisputed champion of “lip service.”

Obama promises, “Our actions will be designed to be limited in duration and scope. Our capacity to execute this mission is not time sensitive. It will be effected tomorrow or next week or one month from now.” In other words, he does not have a clue what we are going to do, when we are going to do it, but it when we do, it won’t change anything.“

So, Obama is not asking Congress for a War Powers resolution, but simply a resolution backing his plan to attack Syria. But he has repeatedly said he has the authority to act without Congress, so why exactly is he asking for congressional approval?

Make no mistake, if Obama is willing to blame-shift his red line comments, I can assure you he’s willing to blame-shift the unintended consequences of any action he authorizes in Syria.

Given that the Democrat-controlled Senate is likely to affirm a resolution supporting Obama’s request to hit strategic targets in Syria in order to punish Assad, at least John McCain amended the resolution to limit its timeframe and restrict any "boots on the ground.” But this day-late and dollar-short retaliatory attack won’t force Assad to make nice with rebel forces and quietly leave Syria.

But Republicans in the House should NOT take Obama’s bait, despite the fact that House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) have both endorsed a “narrow and limited” attack on Syria.


Because despite contrary assertions from Obama’s equally incompetent lapdog, John Kerry, the Syrian rebels are clearly infiltrated with Islamic Jihadists. Because there is no clearly articulated critical U.S. national security interest threatened by the August 21 chemical attack. Because we have no allied support (other than Albania and the French, the latter providing catering services for the event). Because the UN’s Responsibility to Protect (R2P) doctrine should not take precedence over U.S. doctrine regarding military intervention.

(No small irony that Kerry is now calling for military action against Syria – when George W. Bush declared Syria an unfriendly, then-Senator Kerry and Nancy Pelosi both circumvented the Bush Administration’s policy toward Syria, meeting with Assad for wining and dining, and assuring him he still had the support of Democrats.)

As Heritage Foundation analysts note, “Military force should be used only if there is a clear, achievable, realistic purpose. Missile strikes are unlikely to deter the Assad regime and prevent further abuses. Rather, the U.S. risks escalating its involvement in the crisis. Missile attacks … would only be seen as a sign that the U.S. is lacking a clear, decisive course of action. The Middle East would see this as another effort from the Obama Administration to look for an ‘easy button’ and lead from behind rather than exercise real, constructive leadership.”

The U.S. should be working with coalition partners in the region to bring the Assad regime down, not unilaterally attack Syria, unifying Islamic Jihad resolve in the region.

Obama is arguing that we have a humanitarian obligation to bomb Syria. But the fact is, more than 120,000 civilians have been killed in Syria since the first popular demonstrations two years ago, and if “humanitarian” was a sufficient cause for military intervention, we would have boots on the ground in half of Africa right now.

Six years ago, New York Times editors asked then-candidate Obama, “How would you elicit cooperation from Iran and Syria that the Bush administration has failed to obtain?”

Obama responded: “I’ve already said, I would meet directly with Iranian leaders. I would meet directly with Syrian leaders. We would engage in a level of aggressive personal diplomacy in which a whole host of issues are on the table. … Iran and Syria would start changing their behavior if they started seeing that they had some incentives to do so, but right now the only incentive that exists is our president suggesting that if you do what we tell you, we may not blow you up. My belief about the regional powers in the Middle East is that they don’t respond well to that kind of bluster. They haven’t in the past, there’s no reason to think they will in the future.”

Now, five years into Obama’s failed foreign policy in the region and around the world, he insists that because Syria has not done what we told them to do, we should “blow them up.”

The time to take any meaningful action against Assad’s regime has come and gone.

In the aftermath of Benghazi, with Egypt on the verge of civil war and Syria fully engaged in civil war, and with clear indications that Islamic Jihadists are key players in conflicts throughout the region, it is abundantly clear that Obama’s foreign policy in the region has failed miserably. Under this Nobel Peace Prize-winning “community organizer,” Islamist coalitions are thriving, expanding their influence rapidly and oppressing millions. And, once again, they are threatening our vital national interests in the region and posing an increasing threat to our homeland.

Teddy Roosevelt based his foreign policy on this maxim: “Speak softly, and carry a big stick.” Obama’s foreign policy is based on this maxim: “Speak endlessly and carry a toothpick.”

The only legitimate reason to attack Syria now is to destroy Assad’s weapon capabilities, so if Syria completely unravels, those weapons do not fall into the hands of Islamists. However, this rationale assumes that we can effectively find and target those weapons after a couple weeks of threatening to “fire a shot over the bow,” and moreover, that quantities of these weapons are not already in the hands of al-Qa'ida and other Jihadi groups.

Any Republican member of Congress who bites on Obama’s request for congressional approval is a fool. Obama is approaching Congress for one reason – to spread the blame in the event an attack escalates into much more significant conflict in the region.

Footnote: For those of us with family members who are active duty military personnel, Obama’s failings hit close to home.

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