Last year, Obama and his acolytes were boasting about his “lead from behind” approach, one that saw him place America (and her interests) behind a UN-led line when it came to the Arab Spring. At the time, people at home and abroad wished that America, which still had something of a reputation for leadership, would in fact take the lead, and exert some control over the explosive Arab spring. All Obama did, though, was whisper words of love to the Muslim Brotherhood, and engage in gun-running in the Libyan desert. Leadership it was not.
Now, though, Obama is leading with his chin. He’s huffing and puffing about Damascus, bravely warning Assad that, at a date, time, and location to be announced well in advance, Obama will use the might of the American military to blow up some vaguely strategic buildings that, thank heavens!, will be empty. (Or, if the Syrians are looking for a little strategic martyrdom, that will in fact be packed to the gills with women and children.)
Should we be celebrating the fact that Obama has finally decided to lead? Most emphatically NO!!! For it’s becoming clear that no one wants to follow him. It would be one thing, of course, if the naysayers were all overseas and if Obama had made a credible case that America’s national interest desperately required a strike against Syria, regardless of the feckless Europeans. But that’s not what has happened.
Obama has failed to articulate any reason whatsoever that would implicate an American interest in bombing Syria. Since it’s been embroiled in its civil war, Syria has nicely left America alone and, as a byproduct, it hasn’t had time to bomb Israel lately either. Both sides in the civil war are enemies of America. (And don’t get me started on the fact that, back in 2011, had Obama sided hard, even if just in speeches, with the original rebels against Assad, he could quite possibly have kept that crew pro-American, rather than created a vacuum that al Qaeda happily filled.)
No matter which side wins or loses, they’ll still hate us, and that’s true even if we help them to victory. (Exhibit A: the “rebels” in Libya, who were actually al Qaeda fighters, and who were happy to use us and then to attack us.) Obama has failed even to make a convincing argument about the nerve gas. Experts are now waffling about who really did it. Was it Assad? Was it al Qaeda that was willing to kill its own supporters in order to force Obama to fulfill his “red line” promise? We don’t know, but our president is still talking war.
As far as I can see, there is no benefit to our going into Syria. We have not even a pretense of a dog in this fight. The president has been sitting on his hands while 120,000 people or so have died, and at least that number have been turned into refugees, and we’re suddenly rushing off to war because 1,500 more died? I don’t mean to minimize the horrors of toxic gas as a weapon of warfare, but the fact remains that Arabs are not constrained by polite rules of warfare (as Saddam Hussein showed when he gassed thousands of Kurds). There is no way we can police the Arab world every time its members lapse into profound inhumanity to their fellow man.
What I do see are downsides. If it’s a nothing of an attack, we’ve proved we’re a nothing of a nation. If it’s a middling attack, it could be enough to spark another maddened Muslim uprising, with Israel as its first target, and every American as its second. And if it’s a total war attack, then we’ve engaged in total war for no reason, spending down our national capital, and proving us to be brutes of the type every fevered American hater has always claimed us to be — and that will be with America led by a Nobel Peace Prize winner.
Obama has managed to get himself and, by extension, America into an absolutely untenable position. No wonder he won’t go to Congress. If Facebook is anything to go by, Congress will listen to the people and will not support Obama. I’ve seldom seen such unanimity on my “real me” Facebook: Everyone, no matter their political views (or absence of political views) is opposed to engaging in Syria. This is 2003 in reverse: Just as Congress in 2003 voted almost unanimously to go to war in Iraq, this time around, Congress and the American people (except, of course, for Obama’s love slave, Nancy Pelosi) are resoundingly opposed to a foray into the Middle East.
My favorite post ever of all my own posts is the one I wrote about God’s seeming cruelty in allowing Pharaoh to continuously break his word to Moses, thereby resulting in Pharaoh people getting struck down by terrible plagues. I wrote that this is not an example of God’s capriciousness or cruelty. Instead, it is a necessary lesson:
Sheltered in his lavish palace, Pharaoh might worry about a populace starving and frightened, but that was irrelevant as long as that same populace continued to fear and worship him. The people’s suffering, ultimately, was irrelevant to his goals. It was only when the price became too high — when Pharaoh’s power base was destroyed because his citizens were destroyed — that Pharaoh was convinced, even temporarily, to alter his evil ways.
Assad is Pharaoh, but Obama is no Moses. On this one, he has no people who want to “go.” It is up to the poor beleaguered people laboring under the tyrannies in the Middle East to stand up on their own, for their own, and insist that their many Pharaohs let the people go.