Over the course of the last couple weeks, since the use of chemical weapons and gassing of Syrian civilians, Barack Obama has been struggling with exactly how his office is supposed to handle such things … and saving his own face to the world.
He has been called out as an “amateur”, and even one of his biggest supporters in his own party in the Congress has just called him “embarrassing”. All roads lead to Obama’s “Staggering Incompetence”…
It’s reported that President Obama was ready to order a military strike against Syria, with or without Congress’s blessing, but “on Friday night, he suddenly changed his mind.”
In light of all this, it’s worth posing a few questions:
1. Why didn’t the president seek congressional authority before the administration began to beat the war drums this past week? Did the idea not occur to him? It’s not as if this is an obscure issue. When you’re in the White House and preparing to launch military force against a sovereign nation, whether or not to seek the approval of Congress is usually somewhere near the top of the to-do list.
And why has the urgency to act that we saw from the administration during the last week–when Assad’s use of chemical weapons was referred to by the secretary of state as a “moral obscenity”–given way to an air of casualness, with Obama not even calling Congress back into session to debate his military strike against Syria?
2. The president didn’t seek congressional approval for his military strike in Libya. Why does he believe he needs it in Syria?
3. Mr. Obama, in his Rose Garden statement on Saturday, still insisted he has the authority to strike Syria without congressional approval. So what happens if Congress votes down a use-of-force resolution? Does the president strike Syria anyway? If so, will it be an evanescent bombing, intended to be limited in scope and duration, while doing nothing to change the war’s balance of power? Or does the president completely back down? Does he even know? Has he thought through in advance anything related to Syria? Or is this a case of Obama simply making it up as he goes along?
This latest volte-face by the president is evidence of a man who is completely overmatched by events, weak and confused, and deeply ambivalent about using force. Yet he’s also desperate to get out of the corner he painted himself into by declaring that the use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime would constitute a “red line.” As a result he’s gone all Hamlet on us. Not surprisingly, Obama’s actions are being mocked by America’s enemies and sowing doubt among our allies.
What explains this debacle? It’s impossible for us to know all the reasons, but one explanation appears to be a CYA operation.