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September 11, 2013

An Impaired Speech

The commander in chief addressed the nation last night regarding Syria. But it was a time filler, adding nothing important to the debate.

The commander in chief addressed the nation last night regarding Syria. The address had been planned to bolster support for a military strike against Bashar al-Assad’s regime for its alleged use of chemical weapons against rebel fighters. But, thanks to Secretary of State John Kerry’s gaffe resulting in yesterday’s Russian proposal to “secure” and dismantle Syria’s weapons, Obama’s address ended up merging two speeches – one pleading for congressional authorization for an imminent attack and another asking Congress to delay its vote until a diplomatic solution plays out.

As former Ronald Reagan speechwriter Peggy Noonan wrote, “It was a time filler: The White House had asked for the time and had to fill it.”

The basic problem is that Obama’s actions are not governed by overarching principles related to Liberty or our Constitution. Every action is judged on its political merit only. Thus, in the case of Syria, the politically expedient thing for Obama to do, having backed himself into a corner on the Syrian “red line,” was to outsource our policy in the region to Russia, under the pretense of a “diplomatic solution,” when in fact, Russia’s only interest is to keep Assad in power in order to maintain its only military base in the region.

Either attacking Syria is in our national security interest or it isn’t. Either chemical weapons use crosses the “red line” and means Assad must be removed or it doesn’t. Obama came to the American people last night saying “all and none of the above.” In other words, bad strategy, foggy objectives and no persuasive reason to follow his lead. At least the speech was brief.

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