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September 3, 2013

No Policy, No Allies, No Strike

With no discernible foreign policy addressing the tinderbox that is the Middle East, our aimless CINC has now painted himself into a very tight corner, the only exit from which is to blast his way out. Drawing the so-called “red line” in the sand was a brash move, but it now binds him in his corner. American credibility, eroding for some time now, will be obliterated if Obama fails to act. And it may diminish if he strikes without the agreement of the international community. Either way, he will appear even more dithering and weak than many already perceive him to be. But what should he do that won’t open the door to Iran and Syrian attacking Israel and perhaps igniting an all-out war in the Middle East?

On August 30, Secretary of State Kerry laid out the case for intervention that excluded putting American boots on the ground. He hinted at limited, remote strikes, likely designed to lay waste to Syrian air power and other strategic targets. He declared the case with a sense of urgency leaving all to assume the hammer would drop at any moment. And this, after the Brits left us alone at the altar.

In a truly stunning turnaround, a mere day later the President announces that he will seek the approval of Congress to use force against Syria, something he had previously eschewed in his bald-faced effort at macho bluster. Such bluster is often a cover for having no idea what to do – a mask for weakness or fear. It is what bullies do to hide their inadequacies. So why the reversal instead of turning Syrian acreage into parking lots? Did the President suddenly realize that we have a Constitution that gives the power to declare war to the legislative branch? Perhaps, but based on his history of disdain for the Constitution, it’s not likely his first motivation to do the right thing.

What about the polls? The polls are indicating overwhelmingly that Americans have little stomach for a strike on Syria despite their heinous use of poison gas. We know he follows polls, so this likely played into his decision to throw the ball into Congress’ court. But there is far more than meets the eye here. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, General Dempsey, has been advising a more cautious approach in terms of timing and manner of response. He knows we can wreak havoc against the Syrian regime now or a month from now, so why rush? Dempsey is a combat veteran, having fought in the first gulf war and, in the invasion of Iraq; he understands the numbing horror of war. He may be a warrior, but he is not eager to send young soldiers to die in a hellhole like Syria; and for what ultimate purpose? The Chairman is certainly a key influencer and probably the number two reason that Obama decided to back down from immediate, solo action.

The number one reason for Obama to petition Congress will be no surprise to watchers of our narcissist-in-chief. It is pure political calculus. Having boldly proclaimed his red line policy Obama finds himself watching as Russia, Iran and Syria thumb their noses at the US and threaten him with dire consequences should he act. The British Parliament showed no stomach for involvement either, leaving the President truly all by himself in this particular act on the world stage. Obama has shown an obvious passion for holding the Syrian regime accountable, but if Congress doesn’t support him in that passion, the blame is off his shoulders and on Congress – just as he prefers it. Sure, he will be embarrassed and humiliated if Congress doesn’t consent to attack Syria, but he can say that he tried. And we all know that the most important things to liberals are their good and noble intentions. Results really don’t matter as long as you mean well.

Syria’s civil war is not America’s war and there is no good that will come of our intervention there. We certainly should not back down from a fight with jihadists or any other enemy of the US, but we should not be spoiling for a fight in a regional civil war in which America is not threatened. Telegraphing our intent also removes any element of surprise and makes us a target for the world’s derision as everyone waits and wonders. Transparency should not be the order of the day when contemplating military strategy! It is my guess that Congress will hear their constituents and reject the President’s request to use force against Syria and it will be a bi-partisan rejection, as it should be. This is not about parties or ideologies; it is about what’s in the best interests of the United States. The people will be heard on this issue, Mr. President, and we hope you are listening for a change.

@RedCav on Twitter.

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