In the epic mess that is American foreign policy under Barack Obama, a few things stand out with regard to the particular Syria mess:
1. As with everything else with this president, politics reigns supreme. He has zero urgency about punishing Bashar al-Assad’s alleged use of chemical weapons in order to enforce his own “red line.” If he had any urgency, he would have called Congress back ASAP and pushed for a vote with all deliberate speed. Instead, he announced that while he doesn’t think he needs Congressional approval to act, he’s going to request it anyway. Helluva guy, no?
Actually, no. Obama hasn’t suddenly acknowledged the Constitutional limits on his power for any other reason than politics. He wants to force a vote, the results of which don’t even matter much to him. If Congress votes “no” on military action against Assad, Obama can claim that he wanted to hit the regime but Congress wouldn’t let him. He could still attack anyway. Some folks are saying that that would provoke a Constitutional crisis. Please. When has Obama ever let Congress or the Constitution stop him? He does what he wants.
If Congress grants approval, he can still do whatever he wants—only in this case, he’ll have political cover and another branch of government—and political party—to share the blame if/when it all goes bad. This is all about 2014, all the time. Wage a war, wag the dog. Blame the GOP for a war he only reluctantly pursued.
And a war gone bad is likely, given that the Syrian opposition is overrun by al Qaeda, the Muslim Brotherhood, and sundry other Islamists. Bombing the regime on their behalf? What could go wrong?!
2. Another reason Obama wanted to delay the Congressional vote: this week he travels to Europe and Russia for the G-20 meeting. Mark my words: he will strike a deal with Russian president Vladimir Putin to keep any strike VERY limited in exchange for two things: an international conference on ending the Syrian civil war AND a reboot of talks with Tehran over its nuclear program. If Obama gets both, he walks away as a hero of diplomacy.
3. Where is the anti-war Left? Suddenly, Nancy Pelosi is hugging Tomahawk missiles. Hello, Cindy Sheehan? What’s up, Medea Benjamin and Code Pink? Hollywood? Anyone home?
4. Has anyone noticed that other huge foreign policy crises have been pushed off the front page? Egypt, anyone?
5. And domestic crises too. The IRS scandal anyone? Benghazi? The DOJ spying? NSA? Crickets.
6. Is Hillary Clinton the luckiest woman alive? She is out of office and therefore out of the loop of responsibility on this mess. BUT she’s not in the clear, because just a year or so ago, Rodham was touting Assad as a “reformer” with whom she could do business. Will some honest reporter please get to her and ask her about Syria and her past positions on Assad and the conflict? She wants to be the next president, right? She shouldn’t be allowed to duck this. Plus, she should be back from her Hamptons vacation by now. Besides, she knows a helluva lot about waging wars and wagging dogs.
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