Why no one buys Obama’s strike talk
Ed Morrissey at Hot Air, talking about the speech Obama made about Syria last night, had this to say:
Yesterday, though, Obama sounded contradictory and confused. He attempted to rouse moral outrage over the use of chemical weapons against scores or hundreds children in Damascus on August 21st, which is an easy case to make — but thousands of children have been killed in the Syrian civil war in all sorts of ways, by all sides. Obama argued that Bashar al-Assad had to be deterred from using chemical weapons in the future, but left out any call for regime change, which is still the official strategic goal of the Obama administration. To Americans reluctant to engage in another war, Obama cajoled us to action, claiming that only the United States had the power to bring Assad to heel.
In this instance, Obama is completely right. However, to bring “Assad to heel” would take a whole lot more of American power than this president is willing to use. If, in fact, he keeps it “small”, i.e. a very limited strike, people are asking ‘what’s the use’. It won’t bring Assad to heel as he claims we have within our power. He’s wanting one thing but not willing to do what is necessary to achieve it. And we all know about how mission creep works. Especially when there is a political ego involved.
But that sort of incoherence wasn’t at all confined to that portion of the speech. As Politico’s editor-in-chief said:
‘Two weeks of zig-zag foreign policy by President Barack Obama – marching to war one moment, clinging desperately to diplomacy the next – culminated Tuesday night, appropriately enough, in a zig-zag address to the nation that did little to clarify what will come next in the Syria crisis but shined a glaring hot light on the debate in the president’s own mind.
‘The speech began with an earnest statement on behalf of Zig, a sober appreciation that military power has its limits and good intentions don’t necessarily equate to good policy: ‘I have resisted calls for military action because we cannot resolve someone else’s civil war through force, particularly after a decade of war in Iraq and Afghanistan.’
‘But it was followed the next paragraph by some piercingly indignant words making the case for Zag, the conviction that conscience and the obligations of global leadership sometimes require America to act. The aim was to shake a skeptical public out of complacency: ‘The images from this massacre are sickening: men, women, children lying in rows, killed by poison gas, others foaming at the mouth, gasping for breath, a father clutching his dead children, imploring them to get up and walk.
As another columnist for Politico said:
“In a painful reminder of why presidential addresses are usually day-of bookings – made when the White House can match the right timing with a clear message for the American people – Obama went before the cameras in the East Room and said… not much that he hadn’t said already over the last two weeks.
Back to Morrissey:
So what was Obama asking of the American people? Nothing. What new and convincing information did Obama bring to the American people? None. What new argument did Obama make to shift the strong momentum against military action? He had none. There was nothing new in this speech from Obama that hadn’t been argued at length in his six broadcast-network interviews the day before, or that his White House and State Department hadn’t offered in the previous week before the speech.
Meanwhile Obama wants the vote in Congress to be delayed because, well, you know, he’d lose.
But all is right with the world now … Obama has made a speech and the spin machine is hard at work trying to pretend this all went according to some plan that no one knew about previously.