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

Friday, August 30, 2013

Wag the Dog

With each passing day, the Obama threat of a "shot across the bow" for Syria becomes more ridiculous. The U.K. now recognizes that bombing Syria with no strategy in place and no national interest at stake is a losing proposition. It has rejected the bid to go to war. So much for President's "coalition." Ironically, he has become the very thing he criticized in 2008—a cowboy who goes it alone (even though George W. Bush had UN support and a coalition of many countries when he went into Iraq).

But the President plods on, seemingly more worried about his "red line" than he is about the potentially serious unintended consequences of an attack.

Caroline Glick, a resident of the very bad neighborhood that is the Middle East, comments:
Syria is controlled by Iran and its war is being directed by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps and by Hezbollah. And arrayed against them are rebel forces dominated by al-Qaida.

As US Sen. Ted Cruz explained this week, "Of nine rebel groups [fighting the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad], seven of them may well have some significant ties to al-Qaida."

With no good horse to bet on, the US and its allies have three core interests relating to the war. First, they have an interest in preventing Syria's chemical, biological and ballistic missile arsenals from being used against them either directly by the regime, through its terror proxies or by a successor regime.

Second, the US and its allies have an interest in containing the war as much as possible to Syria itself.

Finally, the US and its allies share an interest in preventing Iran, Moscow or al-Qaida from winning the war or making any strategic gains from their involvement in the war.

For the past two-and-a-half years, Israel has been doing an exemplary job of securing the first interest. According to media reports, the IDF has conducted numerous strikes inside Syria to prevent the transfer of advanced weaponry, including missiles from Syria to Hezbollah.

Rather than assist Israel in its efforts that are also vital to US strategic interests, the US has been endangering these Israeli operations. US officials have repeatedly leaked details of Israel's operations to the media. These leaks have provoked several senior Israeli officials to express acute concern that in providing the media with information regarding these Israeli strikes, the Obama administration is behaving as if it is interested in provoking a war between Israel and Syria. The concerns are rooted in a profound distrust of US intentions, unprecedented in the 50-year history of US-Israeli strategic relations.
It's reasonable to ask how, exactly, will a few hundred cruise missiles and possibly fighter bombers advance these core interests? How will an equivocal response (the only kind that Barack Obama is willing to make) not be viewed a weak, confused, and ineffective?

Again Glick comments:
Obama believes he can prove his moral and strategic bonafides to the public by declaring his outrage at Syrian barbarism and then launching a few cruise missiles from an aircraft carrier. The computer graphics on the television news will complete the task for him.

The New York Times claimed on Thursday that the administration's case for striking Syria would not be the "political theater" that characterized the Bush administration's case for waging war in Iraq. But at least the Bush administration's political theater ended with the invasion. In Obama's case, the case for war and the war itself are all political theater.
With his foreign policy in the Middle East in ruins and his domestic policy an abject failure, I'm not sure "political theater" is exactly the right term for what's happening. It's wag the dog, baby, wag the dog!