President Barack Obama. (AP Images)
It’s up to Congress now to stop President Obama’s push for war. That ought not be encouraging, even though rogue Republican neo-isolationists and Obama-haters in the House might still vote no out of spite. The White House—not to mention the Israel lobby—will push hard for approval of a war resolution, and even staunch, liberal pro-Obama members of Congress, especially in the Senate, will probably go along.
But that doesn’t make the desire of the president and Secretary of State Kerry, who’s emerged as the administration’s über-hawk, to go to war any less insane. Striking Syria in a punishment-minded, wrath-of-God attack, driven by the president’s foolish announcement of a red line in the sand, with absolutely no strategic goal in sight—and now that Syria will have weeks to disperse its forces and its weapons—makes not a shred of sense. But as Obama said yesterday, “We do what we say.” And he’s said he intends to bomb Syria. My guess: he’ll do it even if Congress votes against the idea.
In the president’s statement yesterday, he asked: “What message will we send if a dictator can gas hundreds of children to death in plain sight and pay no price?” In response, I ask: “By what right does President Obama, any president, decide which dictator, strongman or bad guy anywhere in the world must be punished by the United States? Who made America the world’s policeman—not to mention the world’s judge, jury and executioner?”
Some might be willing to praise Obama for making a virtue of necessity and taking the case for his useless, strategically incompetent Syria plan to the Congress. In fact, without allies (except the French, who long for the long-gone “mission civilisatrice”), with public support, with the formerly puppylike UK, without backing from either the United Nations or the Arab League, Obama was naked before the world. So he wants congressional support for a mission that will kill civilians and accomplish, well, nothing.
As The New York Times reports in some depth, Obama is being ridiculed worldwide, and he deserves every ounce of mockery that he’s getting. No doubt, at the summit meeting of the G-20 in St. Petersburg later this week, Obama will get his head handed to him, and rightly so.
None of this means that Obama, who seems to approach every world conflict with Hamlet-like indecision—perhaps not a bad thing—is as bad as President George W. Bush. A Syrian resident of Homs, anticipating an attack, put it best when he told the Times: