The consequences of the Syria fiasco

The Syria farce played out with Obama’s speech last night. When you are a Democrat and are being ridiculed in left wing magazines, you are in trouble.

This brings up what will happen next. That will not include any surrender of Syrian WMD. The Syrians have been Soviet and Russian clients for many years. There is no chance that Putin will allow his client to be disarmed.

As Slate relates:

Kerry never thought that he was making a bold bid to avert military strikes that his president’s party and public had no interest in supporting. He simply suggested that if Bashar al-Assad handed all of his chemical weapons over in a week, that might stave off an impending U.S. attack—and of course, Assad wasn’t going to do that. The State Department rushed forward to clarify that Kerry wasn’t floating an actual proposal—he was just speaking rhetorically. You know, riffing. To say that the Obama administration is freelancing when it comes to foreign policy is an insult to freelancers.

Still, Vladimir Putin knows an opportunity when he sees it. The Kremlin pounced on Kerry’s diplomatic spitballing. So now, everyone—the French, the British, the Chinese, the Obama administration—is hoping that the Russians can craft a verifiable plan for Assad’s regime to hand over its chemical stockpile. For the West, a price can be exacted from Assad, while the dangerous unpredictability of military strikes can be avoided. Meanwhile, Russia and China can keep their man in Damascus.

What is the result ? Obama jumped at the chance to get off the weak limb he was astride.

But if your foreign policy has to be rescued by a dictator, you are doing it wrong. That’s where President Obama finds himself today. Putin is providing Obama an out he couldn’t find for himself.

This will not end well. In 1961, newly elected President John F Kennedy went to a summit with Nikita Kruschchev and was perceived by that dictator as a weakling. The result was Soviet missiles in Cuba and the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.

The Democrats, and even some credulous people of other parties, consider this was a victory for Kennedy. It wasn’t. It guaranteed Cuban communism for 50 years and US missiles were removed from Turkey. The two consequences were kept secret for the last 50 years. The Kennedy brothers then tried to get personal revenge on Castro and that effort may have blown back as the Kennedy assassination. None of this history suggests diplomatic skill.

What we see now is even less diplomatic skill, or even competence. Even Slate is unhappy with their president.

If Putin’s maneuver doesn’t pan out, Obama’s foreign policy will still likely fall victim to the vicissitudes of a dictator. Because one message is already clear in Damascus: The Obama administration will do everything in its power to do nothing at all. If Assad finds himself up against the wall, he will likely gas his fellow Syrians again. Maybe he will reduce the scale and scope, but it is doubtful that he will abandon the weapons. How will President Obama respond then? It is hard to say. Because no one knows what the president is doing. At least he has the element of surprise.

We will reap severe consequences from this disaster. And they will not be long in coming. Iran has been watching, no doubt with great interest. I have been despondent about the domestic consequences of Romney’s loss last fall. Now I have to face disastrous consequences in foreign policy. The next three years, and beyond if we are unlucky enough to see Hillary elected, will be the most dangerous time in our history since the Civil War.

Richard Fernandez sums it up well.

No, the man known as President Obama left the building after his Syria speech. What’s left in the White House is Barry Soetoro or whatever he goes by now: a shrunken, confused husk surrounded by court jesters, second-rate ideologues, and sycophants. And while it may be tempting to gloat at his reversal of fortune, the truth is that the collapse of the presidency represents the most dangerous moment in America since the September 11, 2001 attacks.

My only disagreement with him is that I think it’s worse than that.

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