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

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Better Lucky

In sports, there’s a cynical, but often accurate statement that goes something like this: ”Better lucky than good.” Over the past five years, Barack Obama has demonstrated that his foreign policy is far, far from good. But yesterday, he was lucky.

Vladimir Putin jumped on an extemporaneous John Kerry idea (international control of Syria’s chemical weapons stockpiles) and ran with it. And make no mistake, Kerry’s words were extemporaneous, unplanned, and initially viewed as a gaff, as evidenced by the State Department trying to walk them back until they decided not to walk them back. The WSJ reports that "A White House official told CNN that "that Kerry's comments were a 'major goof,' and that he 'clearly went off-script.'"
Nonetheless, Putin offered to broker a “diplomatic” solution to the Syrian crisis. This gives Obama an easy out for the mess he’s created for himself and his party and at the same time avoids a military attack that would have been lose-lose for the United States. A good thing.

Realistically, there is very little chance that control and or verification of the chemical weapons will occur and even less that it will be effective. But no matter, it’s a way out of this mess and the political class will grasp it like a drowning many grasps a straw. Even more predictably, a president will take credit for the idea, his advisors will suggest that his incoherent lose-lose Syria policy was a catalyst, and his trained hamsters in the media (h/t: James Taranto) will forget their hesitant criticism of Obama war plan and re-declare him a brilliant strategist. 3 ... 2 ... 1 ...

At the same time that his luck was turning, the president trotted out Susan Rice to lecture the congress on the facts and intelligence surrounding the Syrian situation. You know, the same Susan Rice that blatantly lied to the American people about the underlying reasons for the Benghazi attack. Wow, that will really inspire confidence on the Hill.

A CCN commentator characterized the Obama strategy for Syria as “guard rail to guard rail.” The administration careened down the road toward war, changing direction, mood, message, and advocacy on a daily and sometime hourly basis. Elections do indeed have consequences.

But maybe it’s America that been the luckiest as this mess moves toward resolution of a kind. Richard Fernandez writes:
Maybe God really does look out for America. The Syrian crisis has done the nation the incredible favor of exposing a potential system failure early, like having a mild heart attack and finding that your arteries are nearly 99% blocked and only a miracle saved you from the Big One. But warnings only work when they are heeded.

The administration and its supporters are heedless. Timothy Egan writing in the New York Times on Sept 5th maintained the belief that Obama is in a bind because Bushruined American credibility for international action.
The voice that stands out most by his silence, the one that grates with its public coyness, is Bush himself. He has refused to take a side in the Syrian conflict. The president, he said, “has a tough choice to make.” Beyond that, “I refuse to be roped in.”

This is cowardice on a grand scale. Having set in motion a doctrine that touches all corners of the earth and influences every leader with a say in how to approach tyrants who slaughter innocents, Bush retreats to his bathtub to paint.
Egan doesn’t get it. Obama is in a bind because he goofed big time. “Roped in” as Bush the ostensibly stupid put it offhand. But there are none so blind as they who can’t accept they’ve been outsmarted.

Hubris and incompetence are a dangerous when applied in combination, and this president and his merry band of advisors exhibit both at the same time.