Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Keystone Cop Foreign Policy

Just a few observations about the President’s speech last night. As I watched it, I had to remind myself that it was he who had requested the time from the networks. There he was, for all the world to see, a man clearly annoyed that he had to, once again, explain brilliant strategy to his slow-on-the-uptick citizens. There I was trying to make sense of the bazillion contradictions flying around, sometimes within the same sentence. Something is clearly wrong with either the world’s greatest communicator…or me.

The President described the horror of chemical weapons, the tragic image of children laid out on concrete floors covered by sheets, the agony of a father holding his dead children in his arms begging them to wake up. What remedy did he then propose to right this monstrous wrong? A limited, targeted strike designed to limit Assad’s future use of chemical weapons which absolutely, positively will NEVER involve one American boot on the ground. So, which is it, Mr. President? When you’ve got your Secretary of State running around making references to the holocaust and Harry Reid throwing around Hitler comparisons, it would seem like your moral indignation would produce something a bit more lethal. This “shot across the bow” strategy would be like discovering that Hitler had murdered 6,000,000 Jews, then putting him in time out for a week with no television.

Then I was treated to the bizarre sight of a United States President reminding me that although he doesn’t need Congressional approval to bomb Syria, he wants it because we are the oldest Constitutional Democracy in the world and it’s always better when the President and Congress work together. In the very next sentence he then informs us that the Congressional vote that just last week he was demanding immediately if not sooner, now he wants to be put on hold until a diplomatic solution can be pursued through that champion of freedom and democracy, Vladimir Putin. By this time, my head was about to fall off my shoulders from the rhetorical whiplash.

Ok, so what to make of this? First a summary of events:

1.     Obama makes “red line” comment about Syrian chemical weapons and their use.

2.     Chemical weapons are used in Syria

3.     Obama immediately talks tough, telegraphing his intention to carry out military strikes on Syria.

4.     The Prime Minister of America’s oldest ally, the United Kingdom, goes before Parliament to make the case for and gain approval for his country’s participation in said military action whereupon, he loses the vote in humiliating fashion.

5.     Obama takes a walk after dinner and suddenly sees the need for Congressional approval

6.     Our Secretary of State goes before Congress and testifies to the horror of it all and the urgency to act immediately, if not sooner.

7.     Members of Congress are not persuaded and the Congressional switchboards are lit up with calls coming in at a rate of 100-1 against intervention.

8.     Days turn into weeks after the President’s initial telegraphing announcement that a missile strike was in the works, giving Mr. Assad lots of time to rearrange his assets, to redeploy everything he doesn’t want destroyed by cruise missiles to a safer place.

9.     Sec. Kerry gives a convoluted answer to a reporter’s question about a hypothetical, something any beginner politician knows to never do, especially at a time of great crisis when the less said the better.

10. Vladimir Putin rushes in to the breech caused by Kerry’s feckless remark and buys more time for his client Assad, by proposing that he turn over his entire stockpile of chemical weapons so they can be destroyed.

11.  This, we are told by our President is a development worth pursuing. Nothing is said about how maddeningly difficult it is to “destroy” chemical weapons even in the best of conditions, let alone inside of a country racked by civil war. Indeed the United States is not even in compliance with the provisions of the much heralded Chemical Weapons treaty outlawing their use, since we have yet to destroy all of our stockpile, yet we are now asked to believe that the Syrians will be able to manage their safe destruction in a country where the air is thick with artillery fire.


What a fine mess we’ve gotten ourselves into. Here’s my view. If John Kerry’s bumbling and the President’s ham fisted incompetence has opened the door for Vladimir Putin to win HIS Nobel Peace prize, I say, thank God for small miracles. I care not how we’re able to wiggle off this hook. All I want is for the United States of America to stop interfering in the Middle East. If the result of this Keystone Cop routine we call our foreign policy is no intervention in Syria, I’ll be more than happy to give the President all the credit he will demand for his brilliant statecraft.