The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Bombs Away

If we are to believe John Kerry and John McCain, the United States must follow the president's lose-lose plan and respond militarily to Syria's abhorrent use of chemical weapons. In fact, it now looks like the Congress just might approve the plan, giving Barack Obama cover for another ill-conceived response to a "human-rights" violation by still another Arab dictator. Let's go back two years to better understand how another ill-conceived 'plan' (I use the term plan loosely) worked out. In 2011, Barack Obama decided to support the overthrow on brutal dictator Mohamar Kadaffi in Libya. The argument in favor was that by doing this we would avoid a humanitarian disaster in that country.

The U.K.'s The Independent reports on a story that our MSM has refused to report (simply because it reflects rather poorly on this President's foreign policy acumen):
As world attention focused on the coup in Egypt and the poison gas attack in Syria over the past two months, Libya has plunged unnoticed into its worst political and economic crisis since the defeat of Gaddafi two years ago. Government authority is disintegrating in all parts of the country putting in doubt claims by American, British and French politicians that Nato’s military action in Libya in 2011 was an outstanding example of a successful foreign military intervention which should be repeated in Syria.

In an escalating crisis little regarded hitherto outside the oil markets, output of Libya’s prized high-quality crude oil has plunged from 1.4 million barrels a day earlier this year to just 160,000 barrels a day now. Despite threats to use military force to retake the oil ports, the government in Tripoli has been unable to move effectively against striking guards and mutinous military units that are linked to secessionist forces in the east of the country.

Libyans are increasingly at the mercy of militias which act outside the law. Popular protests against militiamen have been met with gunfire; 31 demonstrators were shot dead and many others wounded as they protested outside the barracks of “the Libyan Shield Brigade” in the eastern capital Benghazi in June.
This begs a key set of questions. Are our leaders in Washington so stupid that they refuse to learn from history? Or ... are they so venal that they think their positions are beyond reproach? Or ... do they believe their own magical thinking—in which Islamist militias become moderates and secular opponents to the dictator somehow can overcome violent Islamist factions? Or ... do they simply believe their own B.S.? I think it's a combination of all of these and more.

So we sit and listen to John Kerry and John McCain (proxies for this president) tell us that unless we strike Syria, Iran will become ascendent. Our national policy over the past five years has more do do with Iran's ascendency than any missile launch against Syria, but no matter. We sit an listen to Kerry "guarantee" that Israel would be at greater risk if we don't act militarily in this instance—I wonder if he would literally bet his life on that "guarantee." We listen to McCain suggest a strong response, when tipping the scales in favor of the Syrian opposition is a very dangerous strategy. We listen to Kerry read a "report" that tells us that al Qaida isn't a serious factor—nah, they're just in Syria for a brief vacation—nothing to see there, we'll just move on.

It truly is fascinating to listen to Debbie Wasserman Schultz or Nancy Pelosi or Dick Durbin or Howard Dean support military intervention. It is astonishing to think that these heavy thinkers (I use the term thinker VERY loosely) are willing to accept this administration's sketchy intelligence after the intelligence errors that occurred in the run-up to the Iraq war. But they're good political soldiers—not to mention astonishingly brazen hypocrites.

Oh well, bombs away! Maybe.

Update - 1:

Tom Friedman is a prototypical OpEd writer for the NYT—a fierce defender of almost all things Obama. As an expert in Middle Eastern politics, even Friedman has significant reservations on Obama's lose-lose strategy:
A limited, transactional cruise missile attack meets Obama’s need to preserve his credibility. But it also risks changing the subject from Assad’s behavior to ours and — rather than empowering the rebels to act and enlisting the world to act — could make us owners of this story in ways that we do not want. “Arm and shame” is how we best help the decent forces in Syria, deter further use of poison gas, isolate Assad and put real pressure on him or others around him to cut a deal. Is it perfect? No, but perfect is not on the menu in Syria.
But no worries, today in a statement that gives new meaning to the word mendacious, the President suggested that the "red line" was not, in fact, his creation, but the world's. In a figurative sense, that may be true, but the President should speak for the United States of America, not for the world, and his actions should reflect our geopolitical interests alone.

Update - 2:

James Taranto does a detailed analysis of the President's claim that the world, not he, established a "red line." Contending that Obama's claim is cravenly disingenuous (read the whole thing) he writes:
Maybe Obama really didn't set a red line. It could have been a case of mistaken identity. Perhaps on Aug. 20, 2012, the world sneaked into the White House, donned an Obama mask, strode into the press room and took questions.

If so, the world did a bad thing and will need to be punished. But we hope that whoever has authority over such matters will have a little compassion for the world's predicament. It isn't easy carrying the weight of Barack Obama on your shoulders.
It's even worse to have a leader who can't seem to take responsibility for his own words and actions. Barack Obama has refined passing the buck to a new art form.