(New York City, Sept. 4) Last Sunday’s irreverent Daily News headline said it all: “Ready, Aim, Hold Fire”. If this city’s beloved writer Jimmy Breslin redid his satirical 1970 novel The Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight, it would be about the Obama Administration’s slapstick antics regarding Syria.
But the real issue is not whether to attack Syria. The case not to is compelling:
1. On the continuum from “regime change” to “shot across the Bow” we can’t agree on what our objectives are.
2. Wider consequences of an attack just now are utterly unpredictable. (e.g. Would Iran carry out its pledge to attack Israel directly or via its client Hezbollah? Would Israel then launch an all-out attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities?)
3. After twelve years of continuous warfare our military is dangerously overextended and reckless budget cuts are degrading it even further.
4. The justifiably war weary American public is clearly opposed to military intervention in yet a fourth Muslim country, particularly since the first three all ended badly.
The real issue is the absolutely jaw-dropping indecisiveness, incompetence, and general confusion of the Obama Administration’s Foreign Policy. The recent events revolving around Syria are merely the capstone and most spectacular example of a five year record that has most of the world viewing the United States as weak, unreliable, unpredictable, and even dangerous.
The U.S. is currently seen as saying things we do not mean, making promises we do not keep, making threats we don’t back up, and prepared to abandon any friend or ally if it seems expedient.
Joe Biden described Hosni Mubarak as “our good friend” and a month later we dumped him. Hillary and John Kerry were on record calling Bashar Assad a “reformer”. Now he’s a murderer and a thug.
A psychiatrist might describe our policies as schizophrenic. The War on Terror became “Overseas Contingency Operations”; Terrorist Attacks became “Man-Caused Disasters”; and the Ft. Hood Massacre is still classified as “Work-Place Violence”.
Christians are slaughtered and Churches burned throughout the Muslim world, and a State Department spokesman says “if true, this is unfortunate”, yet anyone suggesting any connection between Islam and Terrorism is called a bigot and promptly investigated.
The abandonment of Poland and the Czech Republic on SDI, the “reset” with Russia, the “Apology Tour” in the Middle East, “Leading from Behind” in Libya, yo-yo dealings with Iran, North Korea, and Egypt, and much more reveal a pattern of naiveté, and inconsistency.
The foreign press that previously worshipped Obama, now routinely savages him. Once they disliked Bush; now they distrust Obama. They are seeing how he confuses words with deeds, and thinks making a speech is the same as taking an action. Now his previous speeches are used as evidence of flip-flops or hypocrisy.
The phrases “red line” and “game-changer” regarding chemical weapons now haunt Obama and are seen as empty words devoid of credibility. Endlessly he has called a nuclear-armed Iran “unacceptable”, but now there is a growing world consensus that when the time comes he will find a way to accept it, just as he has in North Korea.
When the horrific video images of the August 21st chemical weapons attack snapped shut the trap set by Obama’s own earlier rhetoric all the world including John Kerry who gave an impassioned “call to arms” on the 30th thought a serious American response was imminent.
Not so fast.
On the morning of the 31st Obama appeared in the Rose Garden to announce that yes-something needed to be done, but there was no hurry. He assured the world that he didn’t need authorization from Congress to act however he was going to ask for it anyways, but only after they returned from their summer vacation.
To underline the gravity of the crisis he and Joe Biden then headed for the golf course, after assigning the humiliated Kerry to scrape the egg off his face, and make the rounds of the Sunday Talk shows to claim that everything was going according to plan and the delay in the U.S. response- whatever it turns out to be- will only make us look stronger.
Unbelievable. I’m not making this stuff up. Really, it happened.
Where do things go from here? Nobody knows. World reaction ranges from laughter to tears. Congress will weigh in with at least 535 suggestions. In the end a narrow majority of Republicans will probably grudgingly vote to authorize the use of force because they fear the loss of America’s prestige. A narrow majority of Democrats will grudgingly vote to authorize force because they fear the loss of Obama’s prestige.
And what will be done with this essentially “blank check”? Nobody Knows. Stay tuned, if you like surprises.
William Moloney’s columns have appeared in the Wall St. Journal, USA Today, Washington Post, Philadelphia Inquirer, Baltimore Sun, Washington Times, Denver Post, and Human Events.