UPDATE #2: Well, the problem is solved. By the Russians ! Even Obama’s base is calling this a “clusterfuck.”
Last night, President Barack Obama, who, just over a week ago, had said he was ready to act, tells the nation’s cable watchers that he’s now discussing this bogus plan with Russian President Vladimir Putin, and that he’s “going to take this very seriously” while also not letting up on the drumbeat of military strikes while. On Tuesday, Syria said it had accepted Russia’s proposal and France said it would seek the UN Security Council’s backing for the proposal.
This, in other words, is no light at the end of the tunnel. This, to borrow a phrase from a Congressional staffer at his wits’ end, “is an unmitigated clusterfuck.”
Nothing to see here. Just the end of America’s role in the world.
UPDATE: The debate so far has been interesting in how incompetent it has been. Kerry said that “boots on the ground” might be necessary, then backtracked to minimize that comment. Still, it didn’t help his case.
Then Hagel called the proposed action “war.” He quickly backtracked and has been shown to be particularly inept during the confirmation hearings. He contradicted Obama administration in his testimony before being corrected by an aide.
The House hearings today should be even more interesting where the two have fewer allies.
Obama has made up his mind several times this week on Syria. Sec State Kerry has twice given speeches advocating an attack. Obama said he would do so without consulting Congress (publicly), then, yesterday, said he would ask for a Congressional vote. His reasons were typical.
He wants members on the record, rather than simply criticizing from outside whatever action he takes.”
Thus, his reasons are political rather than strategic. One suggestion that I like is for the Republicans to vote “present.”
The Syrians are now taking credit for “frightening” Obama into the delay.
Richard Fernandez has it right.
Whether Obama admits it or not, his leash has been pulled taut. He must get Congressional approval or it’s off. One problem the President will face is that he can no longer fob off the legislator’s questions. They will ask for names, dates, documents. They may even ask about Benghazi. Asking for permission will be a very uncomfortable experience for the man who was formerly above everything.
This will be the opportunity to get him on the record about Benghazi, for example.
My own thought is that no action will be taken and Obama will try to blame the Republicans.
I can’t improve on Victor Davis Hanson.
Deriding the Iraq war was Obama’s signature selling point. He used it to great effect against both Hillary Clinton (who voted for the war) in the Democratic primaries and John McCain in the general election. For the last five years, disparagement of “Iraq” and “Bush” has seemed to intrude into almost every sentence the president utters.
And now? His sudden pro-war stance makes a number of hypocritical assumptions. First, the U.S. president can attack a sovereign nation without authorization from Congress (unlike the Iraq war when George W. Bush obtained authorization from both houses of Congress). Even if Obama gets a no vote, he said that he reserves the right to strike.
My opinion is heavily influenced by that of Michael Totten. He has expressed some serious reservations which I accept as more informed than my own opinion.
But the mistake that both Mr. Cameron and Mr. Obama are making, like their predecessors Tony Blair and George W. Bush, is to focus solely on chemical weapons.
Mr. Cameron ruled out regime change as the aim, yet it is obvious that unless he is deposed, Bashar Assad (like his father Hafez Assad before him) will continue to use the genocidal methods to destroy the rebels that have already cost well over 100,000 mainly civilian lives and displaced up to three million refugees.
The attacks now planned by the allies are thus explicitly intended to leave Mr. Assad and his regime in place, but to deter them from deploying WMD. This makes no sense. More likely, airstrikes with this limited purpose will merely embroil the West in a protracted civil war.
I can’t say it any better than that.