Saturday, August 31, 2013
The President's New Syria Policy: Blame it on Congress
After months of dithering over Syria, after months of Syria crossing the President’s red line in the sand, after months of trying to ignore Syria’s use of chemical or biological weapons, the feckless president has reached a decision. He will take it to Congress to authorize or refuse the use of military force against Syria. That is, not too much force, not to remove or cripple the Assad Regime, but just a shot across the bow, hardly a decisive act of leadership. What a great political decision! If Congress approves, President Obama gets cover from Congress. If the military response succeeds (highly unlikely), then the President receives the credit. He will bask in the reflected glory of the military, which his Administration has been diminishing, just as he self-glorified in the Bin-Laden takedown. If it fails, then Congress gets the blame. He has forced Congress to do that which its individual members hate to do – to vote on an unpopular measure, the odds of which are failure. Congress is on the horns of a political dilemma. The members know, as Congressman Abraham Lincoln learnt the hard way, the public wants Congress to support the military in times of crisis or war. Thus many Democrats voted to support the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and then ran away from their votes. The Representatives and Senators also recognize that the American public is greatly opposed to military action in Syria. Afghanistan and Iraq exhausted their tolerance for war in the Mideast – a war which involves no critical American issue. The Obama view of the world, apparently until now, is that America cannot serve as The Policeman of the World. They know that the President’s rhetorical ability will not sway public opinion. Indeed, if healthcare and gun control are illustrative, the more he speaks, the greater the rejection. Part of the public resistance is because of the long campaign the anti-war Democrats waged against the “Bush wars.” Senator Obama was a leader in delegitimizing the Iraq War. He is asking Democrats to vote against their core beliefs on the use of military force and a significant block of the Democratic Coalition. He is asking many to commit political suicide. To some extent he is now hoisted upon his own petard as he is asking Congress to enter into new military action without a coalition, except for France which was vilified for opposing the Iraq War. The President cannot even get England to support the action. Parliament overwhelmingly voted a few days ago against military action in Syria. The British action was personal. President Obama and his Administration have treated the British with contempt. They derided the “special relationship” between the United States and England. One of his first acts as President was to unceremoniously return the Churchill Bust to England. He tried to bankrupt BP, the lynchpin of the British economy, after the Gulf Blowout. He has questioned the legitimacy of the British control of the Falkland Islands. No wonder the British aren’t there when he needs them. His inaugural worldwide apology and kowtowing tour created no lasting goodwill for America. He’s letting Iran get the bomb while failing to support the Iranian people in their opposition to the stolen election 4 years ago. China and Russia contemptuously spurn him. They both snubbed him on Snowden. They witnessed how he hid from Benghazi. They witnessed how he unilaterally retreated from Iraq, and is repeating the process with Afghanistan. They witness how he is bankrupting the American economy and shrinking the military. From a two ocean Navy, we are headed to 8 aircraft carriers. America is neither feared nor respected by world leaders. That’s the effect of a foreign policy of appeasement, disengagement, and retreat. He is asking for Congress to vote for military action when he has declared that the military action is not intended to be meaningful. He is asking Congress to vote when his own indecisiveness has created the problem. Yet, he has called the bluff of the members of Congress calling for a Congressional vote. It’s great politics, but furtherance of a bad foreign policy. President Truman famously had a plague in his White House office. It said “The Buck Stops Here.” If Congress rejects the use of military force in Syria, then America will be further shamed throughout the world. He will blame it on Congress for the buck never stops in his Office.