Foreign and Defense Policy, Middle East and North Africa

Syria: No principle, no policy, no progress

Image Credit: shutterstock

Image Credit: shutterstock

When policy and principle don’t animate decision-making, it becomes impossible to explain or predict what a leader will do. That is the world that Barack Obama has fashioned, and it’s a bloody nightmare.

Why Libya and not Syria?
Why Syria and not Benghazi?
Why go to Congress on Syria but not Libya?
Why the red line now and not after the first use of chemical weapons by Assad in April?
Why arm the rebels now but not two years ago before al Qaeda was on the scene?

Short answer: No one has any idea. Syria matters more than Libya; dying by CW is no less awful than dying from torture. The War Powers Act doesn’t require you go to Congress before hostilities. The rebels are now less cohesive and al Qaeda groups are making inroads.

How will Congress vote? My guess is, guns to their heads, a narrow authorizing resolution passes. But don’t count on Barack Obama to help sell this to the American people. In his Saturday afternoon chat on CW and his late-night PBS interview on arming the rebels, he’s made clear this isn’t a policy he’ll defend in prime time. And if the president doesn’t care enough to sell this to the people he represents on the world stage, why should they go for it? In short, they won’t. It’s not that the facts aren’t clear, nor that the American people are not the most compassionate in the world. Nor is it that US troops will be in harm’s way, because we know they won’t be. It isn’t that Americans are — forgive the shibboleth — war weary. It’s not even sequestration. It’s that after being told for 6 years that the Middle East doesn’t matter, that these aren’t our fights, and that wars end on schedule, the American people are going to need to hear and see from the Commander in Chief why this is our moment to reengage. Unfortunately for our nation and for the people of Syria, “I think doing nothing will make me look bad” is neither a call to arms nor the clarion call of leadership.

Obama, as so many have said, needs a strategy in Syria, not just a missile strike. So far, no strategy is evident, no leadership is forthcoming. Ultimately, who will pay the price for this fecklessness? We will, of course. But by that time, Barack Obama will be long gone.

5 thoughts on “Syria: No principle, no policy, no progress

  1. If you want to help the helpless in the Middle East, the US and the World, spend the 1/2 billion $ on the REFUGUES in Lebanon and other countries in the region— not on firing 200 missiles in thin air like on July4th!

  2. “Rebel are now less cohesive and al Qaeda groups are making inroads”
    Really? On what irrefutable intelligence are superficial characterizations like that based? As if you know who the rebels are.

  3. Heard Danielle Pletka on C-Span this morning and was quite impressed. You hav a new fan. So difficult to find someone with a clear cut message today. Most of it is rhetoric.Americans are very frustrated with Obama and his inability to lead. If Americans had done their homework before they elected him, they wold have realized that ny senator we votes “present” and not yes or no as he did in il. Is nt a leader.In addition we are frightened about his weakening of America nationally and internationally and don’t know where to turn. The latest lack of leadership is his quote, ” I did not draw th re line.” This I scary!

  4. Why would Americans be “war weary”? With so few people serving in uniform most Americans don’t have to make any kind of sacrifice at all. Makes going to war so much easier when people don’t share in the responsibility or bare any of the consequences.

  5. Americans had better start getting used to the fact that our power to influence events around the globe isn’t what it used to be. Every empire rises and falls, some a lot faster than others. This empire is clearly in decline. The United States is very much like Britain after the First World War, politically, diplomatically, and militarily the most powerful nation on earth….and completely broke, bankrupt, it’s global economic position eclipsed.

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