Monday, September 02, 2013
Some thoughts on Obama, Congress and Syria.
The Middle East is a fiasco, made worse ...
- partly by a resurgent Islam,
- partly by a culture that has too few (small “D”) democrats and
- partly by the spectacular failure of the Obama Administration.
The Islamist Jihad that was brought home to the US on 9/11/2001 has not been routed, bin Laden was dispensable. Instead, it has spread like a metastatic cancer to other parts of the Muslim world. The fundamental mistake of the Bush administration after 9/11 was not the war in Iraq, but the belief that the culture in that part of the world was congenial to democracy. Political freedom is not a universal longing which is why the “War on Terror” was such a horribly inapt name. Terror is a tactic. We are in a war with Islam but Bush did not want to admit it, perhaps because he had other problems, or because he honestly believed that the yearning for freedom was universal. But in this he was wrong. It was a bad strategic error.
There are a fair number of students or other young people who are willing to go to the barricades for political freedom, but they are overwhelmed by those for whom their faith and their culture make democracy anathema. Real democracy would mean that people would be allowed to practice the religion of their choice, dress the way they wish, eat the foods they want, marry whom they will. These, among other things, strike at the very heart of Middle Eastern culture.
Which brings us to Obama whose head and heart are on the side of Islam, in part because he identifies with that culture as a young boy, in part because of his natural father’s influence and partly because by doing so he is rejecting an American culture that he despises. It’s why when Egypt’s Mubarak was overthrown he was satisfied that the Muslim Brotherhood took over. The military coup that replaced the Brotherhood is treated with suspicion.
In Libya Obama managed to kill a leader who had made peace with the West and transform it into a failed state in which four Americans were slaughtered, including an ambassador. This was an act of war without congressional approval, but because it was brief and “successful” at least from a military perspective, congress gave it a pass. The excuse of the war was ostensibly to prevent a massacre; let’s call that the “Obama’s Libya Doctrine.”
The civil war in Syria has surpassed in blood what no one contemplated in Libya, without American intervention. As a way of ducking the Obama Libya Doctrine, Barack foolishly created a “red line” (think of it as Obama Libya Doctrine v.2) which eliminated the “prevent the massacre” excuse and substituted the use of chemical weapons. So Obama thought he had ducked the bullet of Syrian intervention until somebody used some chemicals. Now, he was suddenly caught on his own trap and was being taunted even by 11-year-old boys in Facebook.
He fell back on a strategy that was so absurd that even his friends were embarrassed: he would launch a strike designed to not destroy the regime or tip that balance of power between the opposing factions. And do it without congressional approval, a UN resolution or any allies. His paid flacks were telling the world that he, Barack Hussein Obama did not need anyone’s permission to start a war with a country that was no threat to us. The world began laughing and Rush Limbaugh had a field day.
Did you ever have a dream where you were standing naked in the middle of the street and everyone was looking at you? That was Barack Obama without his fig leaf. Finally even he realized it, and decided that if he was going to look stupid he was going to try to blame somebody else. He decided that the Republicans were the perfect patsy. And some of it even fell for it.
A couple were quoted as saying that Obama should have gone ahead with his Syrian adventure without anyone’s approval. Jennifer Rubin wrote this in the Washington Post:
This is precisely why a president and not the legislative branch has primary responsibility for foreign policy and directing our military. Once complex military plans with all sorts of geopolitical ramifications hit the “people’s representatives,” their politics drive the debate. Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) charged the president with abdicating his responsibility. He’s right in large part.
She neglected to mention that in our Constitutional system, the President needs congressional approval before going to war.
But ironically, Obama has further weakened his standing and handed Congress an enormous amount of power at a time when he is asserting he can go around Congress and act on domestic matters usually within Congress’s domain.
Jennifer, this is a power the Congress always had, but has been weak to defend. Obama’s not handing them power, he’s trying to pass off the responsibility for a stupid mistake he made with his foolish “red line” remark.
The reaction when I touched base with GOP offices over the weekend was two-fold. First, they have no idea how the vote will come out. And two, asked to characterize the president’s move, the overwhelming response to the flip-flopping and dithering was “weak.”
This is precisely why Congress should have a say when the country's military gets involved in making war. Congress should not try to shore up a foolish President by compounding his mistake. America has no allies in Syria that deserve our support; both sides are despicable. At this point, the current regime may be preferable to a new rebel regime led by al-Qaida, a sworn enemy of the US, Israel and the rest of the non-Muslim world.
Given the fact that most Americans want nothing to do with Obama’s Syrian adventure, it would be a stupid mistake to vote support of Obama’s policy. If Congress approves of a Syrian strike of the kind contemplated by Obama, the result will be an American failure. But that failure will not be just that of an radical, reckless and failed President, but of America's ruling class.