#11—INEPTITUDE AT THE TOP—HOW NOT TO BE A WAR PRESIDENT
When obama abruptly called off the bombing strike on Syria he surprised no one more the French president Hollande. They were the only country set to join the US in the raid. Hollande was humiliated and isolated. In Sweden at the G20 he sought support for serious action against Syria—he failed. Opposition to obama’s plan swelled in his absence notably among dems. Kerry said Syria could avert bombing by turning over the weapons but Assad “isn’t about to do it and it can’t be done Kerry added. The, Russia and Syria said Assad would indeed do it. The situation appeared to overwhelm them. They acted like greenhorns. “None of the White house staff has any experience in war or understands it’, re general Scales. Obama is also faced with using military force in wars he basically opposes. “I get elected to end wars, not start the”. January of 2009 he said” he’d forge a hard earned peace in AFG, Obama doesn’t like to talk about AFG. He mentions it infrequently never making the case for the war. Obama also trapped himself on Syria “a red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized”, ” that would change my calculus that would change my equation”, if Assad crossed the “red line” the US would take aggressive action. There would be hell to pay. The “red line” reference also touches on the president’s inability to talk in the disciplined language of a commander in chief. Obama should know that calling American armed forces “MY Military”, as if they were his personal Swiss Guard is bad form.
Source—weekly standard, fred barnes
#12—WORSE THAN IT LOOKS—A CLOSE READING OF THE RED LINE
Why draw a red line against the use of chemical weapons? Over 2 years Obama has kept aloof from the Syrian conflict. There has been over 100,000 killed in Syria, and all of the sudden obama insisted the US take action to conform the last 1% of deaths killed by chemical weapons. Why draw the line here. One can say death by chemicals is gruesome, much worst than gunfire, artillery or hacking machetes. The US did not intervene in Rwanda when nearly a million civilians were killed that way, nor to intervene in ongoing wars in central Africa, which have brought a more staggering death toll over the last 30 years. Hussein used these weapons against Iranian solders and then Iraqi Kurds as early as the 1980’s. There was not serious international response at the time, no specific deterrent threat from the US. The 1993 chemical weapons convention banning even the possession of these weapons, the presidents red line is best understood as a commitment to stand by the priorities of international rights activists–such as his UN ambassador, Smantha Power. Syria is not a signatory of that convention. When we ratified the chemical weapons convention in 1998 that doesn’t mean we have the right let alone the obligation to impose punishing military strikes against any country that does use them, if they are not used on us or on our allies. The president has cited no precedent form American history for unilateral military intervention to vindicate abstract international norms, when there was no direct element of threat to our country, our citizens or our allies. Somehow it seems important to Obama to avoid having actual strategic consequences as if purity of purpose requires that we not take sides or care about actual outcomes. Obama has decided to take on the moral authority of the ICC without any of the formalities of legal representation for defendants. And we are to trust Assad to say where all the stockpiles are, with no reliable way to determine whether he’s cheating. We’ll find it hard to bomb Assad’s military on the side or even give much help to rebels. American policy will be committed to an international scheme that depends on Assad’s cooperation. Will this make it harder for obama to sell to the American people the risks to stop Iran nuclear weapons?
Sources—weekly standard, fred barnes
#13—NO ESCAPE—THE MIDDLE EAST FAILS TO COOPERATE WITH OBAMA’S PIVOT.
The obama foreign policy “pivot” is that the US would pivot away from the Middle East and towards Asia. Expanded US military presence, are fully appropriate and welcome to many nations in the Pacific region. Iraq gas descended further into instability and sectarian violence. Libya has no functioning government. Egypt elected an extremist Muslim government and is deeply divided. Iran moves even closer to nuclear weapons. Syria’s civil war is spreading beyond its borders and endangering the stability of Lebanon and Jordan. And then the most dangerous wild card—Pakistan the fragile nuclear-armed government. The Middle East is descending into chaos; US influence is at an al-time low. Yet Obama would-be pivot is not a cone-off policy error, but a stark illustration of the underlying reason he has the poorest foreign policy record of any recent president. He invests a mystical power in his worked and intentions: he thins they can change reality. Obama was sure upon entering office that his words and intention would result in new and vastly improved relations with the Muslim world. He thought he would resolve longstanding Israel-Palestinian disputes—without ever asking whether anything on the ground had changed to make this possible.
No one should wish for anything but greater US engagement with “Asia in the coming years. But as American weakness and the absence of American leadership suck us ever deeper into the morass of the Middle East.
Source—weekly standard, jeff Bergner.