Free Markets, Free People

Syrian summary

I think Marc Thiessen pens a fairly succinct one in today’s Washington Post:

We’re conducting foreign policy by faux pas. This entire episode has been driven not by deliberate strategy but by slips of the tongue. Obama’s declaration of a “red line” on chemical weapons was a slip of the tongue. So was Secretary of State John Kerry’s offer to have Syria give up its chemical weapons. There is no plan, no coherence to anything this administration is doing on Syria.

More embarrassing still, Obama is actually claiming that the diplomatic “breakthrough” is the result of his administration’s show of strength.

Excuse me?

Was it a show of strength when Obama went to the world’s nations and asked them to join him in enforcing “their” red line — finding only one country (France) ready to do so? Or when the British parliament rejected military action for the first time since the 1700s? Or when a U.S. official told the Los Angeles Times that any U.S. strike would be “just muscular enough not to get mocked”? Or when Kerry declared that any strike would be “unbelievably small” and would not really constitute “war”? Or when Obama used his prime-time, nationally televised address to call on Congress to do . . . nothing?

That’s not a show of strength. That’s an embarrassment.

Foreign policy by faux pas.  You have to cringe at that one. But it is certainly the truth.

In fact:

The idea that this sequence of events led Syria’s Bashar al-Assad to cower and agree to hand over his chemical weapons is laughable. Russia and Syria are playing us. And the administration, which was about to lose a vote in Congress, latched on to this diplomatic “solution” to save face.

It’s supposed to be the president of the United States who gives a dictator a face-saving way out, not the other way around. The sad fact is Obama needed this way out more than Assad.

To claim otherwise is simply laughable. And, added into all of this, it gave Assad room to do whatever it is he thinks he needs to do (not to mention legitimacy as Syria’s leader) and a chance to add his own condition to the mix – that the US stop supplying the rebels with arms. Watch for that to come into play at some point in the “negotiations”.

As the Wall Street Journal says when describing the debacle:

Through mixed messages, miscalculations and an 11th-hour break, the U.S. stumbled into an international crisis and then stumbled out of it. A president who made a goal of reducing the U.S.’s role as global cop lurched from the brink of launching strikes to seeking congressional approval to embracing a deal with his biggest international adversary on Syria, Russian President Vladimir Putin.

And here we are. The clown car remains full and, unfortunately, will be leading the circus for the next 3 plus years. Hold on to your hats (and wallets).


P.S. and no we won’t be saying anything about the shootings, er “workplace violence”, at the Navy Yard in DC until a whole lot more information comes in.

53 Responses to Syrian summary

  • I’m fully confident the notes above are fully included in the soon to be released, How Good Decisions are Made,  by Scott Erb. 

    • I heard a rumor that the title had been revised:
      DEFT! How Good Decisions are Made, by Scott Erb and Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf

      • Actually DEFT! would make a good title for one of the earlier Terry Pratchett books. The bumbling anti-hero stumbles through an adventure, setting fire to the city, snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, handing prestige and power over to the competition but somehow, in the end, managing to save face and retire to his home in Ankh-MainePork to tell his new squeeze how he out-thought everyone while she rolls her eyes and leaves him to his deep writings.

      • Gentlemen, I think you are misspelling the term.
        It should be D-A-F-T.  As in “madness”.

  • …and thus we see the folly of Affirmative Action Presidency: the reducto ad absurdum of Progressivism laid bare for all to see, even though many deliberately will avoid doing so.

  • As Sun Tzu said,

    To a surrounded enemy, you must leave a way of escape.

    Which really is a simpler way of saying “It’s supposed to be the president of the United States who gives a dictator a face-saving way out, not the other way around.”
    I think Putin is a better student of history than Obama, just ever so slightly. He probably knows this one as well…

    Being unconquerable lies with yourself; being conquerable lies with your enemy.

    Maybe if Obama and those who he thinks like spent less time reading Alinsky, Zinn, etc they might not score massive own goals before the referee has even begun the game.

  • In the most shameless display of the media protecting the President from his own ineptness.
    One of these pictures is not like the others

    • What do you expect? They are not in a position to throw him under the bus. They still want some things from him over the next few years, such as amnesty. That’s why Erb continues to stroke him; they need him as strong politically as possible to do the damage they want done.

  • Bottom line: even Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter weren’t this bad

    • Note that Bill Clinton’s 60,000 ft bombing in Iraq and Kosovo, as well as his run from Somolia and his response to terror attacks like we experienced in Africa, WTC, and USS Cole are part of what resulted in 9/11 and the Iraq War. It is clear Saddam did not back down because he was expecting the Clinton weakness (although the weak ending to GW1, laregly due to Powell, played a big part as well no doubt).

      Obama’s weakness can hurt us short or long term, or both. We have seen this play out before with Clinton and Carter.

      We have a long history of letting allies down. And not just with Democrat administrations, although the error is much more accute with Democrat administrations. The problem is that weakness encourages our enemies and depresses our friends. Perhaps worse of all it sends the message to the many who are not really friends or enemies that we are the “weak horse” and it makes the best sense to partner elsewhere.

  • Unlike with President Bush, who led his into a debacle that destroyed our credibility and weakened us immensely, President Obama is able to reach an agreement that gives us what we want, and doesn’t risk US troops or cost us prestige or money.  Yet you are so anti-Obama that you fantasize that this is embarrassing – to threaten action then get what you want through negotiation is some how bad?  It only shows that your ODS is very deep. This is a foreign policy victory, a fine hour for both Obama and the US.  It shows we’re building international cooperation and have put behind us those arrogant days where the US thought we had to be “on top” and that it was a competition.  This is the 21st Century.  Only people who are stuck in out molded cold war thinking believe this was somehow bad for the US.  Luckily the youth realize that the future is multi-lateral, not built on the US as trying to be some kind of dominant “leader.”  Thank God those days are over!  Of course, if you prefer the Bush style, you can get things like Iraq (or earlier Vietnam) – debacles that weakened the country immensely.

    • …you fantasize that this is embarrassing….

      The fantasy is yours, that only “deranged” “right-wingers” consider Putin’s victory–complete with a New York Times football spike–is anything but embarrassing to President Deft.  You need to read more news sources.  Cites have been provided here.  You ignored them, of course.
      Keep living in denial.

    • How many comments have you deleted today Scott?

    • Holy smokes… are we back round to the youth and the twitters and the moldy 21st century again? Seems the Erbtron 9000 needs rebooting.

    • Erb, you’re getting tiring, in addition to pathetic.   It’s like tolerating a squalling brat throwing a temper tantrum in the mall.   The patience for it ends after about 1 minute as people realize the only problem is the kid is a spoiled brat rather than genuinely tired or hungry.  As an aside, have you ever considered taking a job as a host at a religious compound in Guyana?  You have the right combination of skills, between spiritual quantumality (or should that be quantum spirituality, eh, guess it don’t matter except to the spell checker) and sycophantic adoration for your latest messiah.  Only you could find solace in the idea that the putz in the White House thinks like you (or you think like him….whichever).  No I take that back, you don’t find solace, you revel in it.  Don’t hog the Koolaid dipper.
      Syria is not just a disaster, it’s an ongoing disaster.   The only thing that will replace it in the headlines is another disaster.   This administration is one long badly written Road Runner cartoon with Barack H Obama Super Genius cast as the coyote.  Every package from Acme blows up when the delivery service unloads it.  It’s a series of long shot and close up explosions, interrupted by occasional rounds of golf and vacation.
      Now we’ll go back to gun control for a few days, then the budget explosion, then Obamacare, perhaps a mid-October round of golf, then gun control again, the IRS, Egypt, NSA spying, some insult to one of our former allies, a Thanksgiving round of golf, maybe a little Islamic prayer session at the beginning of Hanukkah, and some insult to America on the good old White House Christmas tree.   That will finish out the year, wrapped up by the reminder that the GOP did all this, and it’s still Bush’s fault, and some devestating expose on the non-scandal in Benghazi.
      Then we can start again in January.

      • Call me a romantic old fool, but when Erb starts on his 21st century schtick I can’t help but be put in mind of Debbie Harry…

        I wanna dance with Bruce McQuain.Drive through Texas in a Nissan Leaf.I want a piece of Q and O before I die.I wanna junket in Italy
        to catch the co-eds up in quantum spirituality,
        but what I really want I just can’t buy.

        Here comes the twenty-first century.It’s gonna be much better for a genius like me,
        cuz I want everything I can,
        but most of all I want Barack.
        I want Barack.

        I wanna move like Ragspierre.I’ll keep the money, I’m actually insane.Everything that’s yours will soon be mine.Yeah, I wanna be the smartest man in the room.You could send me clues every other day, but what I really want I just can’t buy.

        Here comes the twenty first century.It’s gonna be much better for a genius like me,
        cuz I want everything I can,
        but most of all I want Barack.I want Barack.Hey! I wanna be kissed from head to toe by that man on the right-wing blog
        But he won’t even look me in the eye.I want his love to rain right down on me.I want him to be king of all my dreams, but what I really want I just can’t hide.
        Here comes the twenty first century.It’s gonna be much better for a genius like me,
        cuz I want everything I can,
        but most of all I want Barack.I want Barack.

        • Maybe Erb is thinking if he tries hard enough he’ll be invited to one of those closed special White House gatherings of the Left Wing Blogosphere with Ezra and Markos, where they get their marching orders directly from ‘the man’.  Instead of being a private stationed at a listening post in Alaska following what appears to be the orders, he’d be a leader, helping set the course, perhaps even blazing the trail of bullshirt that is the hall mark of this Administration’s media policy.
          From the humble awkward ugly duckling, to beloved queen of swans.  He dares to dream.

          • I predict that no one of any consequence in the field of politics, if they ever happen to see anything he’s written, will ever think about him more than a few minutes, at most.

          • You must mean, a few minutes spent laughing, maybe related later in a drinking discussion as “some clown I read on the internet said….”.

    • …the US as trying to be some kind of dominant “leader.”  Thank God those days are over!

      And there you have it, the wonderfully succinct (emphasis on SUCK) encapsulation of the Collectivist vision of America and its place in the world.
      We are not a “leader” by virtue of any superiority of values.  We are no different to the muddled “thinkers” of the Collective than Russia, Somalia, Cuba, where ever.  In the realm of moral relativism, America is just another, bigger and more aggressive North Korea.
      And if this was “international cooperation”, I hope the rest of the power-brokers in the world will at least provide a little lube in the future as they “cooperate” Pres. Red Line’s eyes out.

    • Erb,

      I thought you were too busy with the new semester to comment. You’re such a narcissistic, lying putz. Only in your fantasy world of academia in Moose-land is this not an embarrasment for Obama and the country as a whole.

      • Erb doesn’t mind embarrasment. He’s been doing it to himself here for years. It is a small price to pay, I imagine, considering the benifits of leftism and a diminished US.

        Does Erb think Obama is a good POTUS? No doubt he realizes Obama is a disaster for the US, but Erb wants disaster for the US.

    • Eh, Obama created his own crisis with the redline ad-lib, then accepted Putin’s offer to save face. We are not getting what we want; the choice in Syria is between Assad and radical islamist terrorists. What Obama did is show his weakness, and weakness is provocative. This results in less respect for the US, and long term will lead to war (the same way Clinton’s weakness lead to war, including the Iraq War).

    • What you, as usual Scott, fail to understand, is now foreign powers who might have restrained their urges because they were afraid of the United States taking action, can now demonstrate that Vacillating Barry might not intervene, might not be allowed to intervene, might not have a clue what to do.
      Much like a criminal band measuring response time for a police department, they could attempt a blitzkrieg of something relying on speed to overtake the target before the P-Resident of the United States can decide if it’s a Red-line (or a Green-line, or a Blue-line or even if it’s a line at all, and whether or not the world drew it) and whether or not he has the authority to go in without Congress even though he’s going to ask Congress for approval, to launch an unbelievably small military effort to repel said blitzkrieg without American boots on the ground with UN approval while leading from behind.
      I know in your universe those sort of people stopped existing in the world after the Russian incursion into Ossetia, but…you know, they may still be out there……somewhere.

    • Utterly clueless as always.
      I’m amazed the guys in white coats haven’t picked up our Erbwellian troll as yet.

      So now the very first milestone for Syria is going to slip, and the US is doing nothing about it.  Still think this is a win for Obama, Erb?
      What a useless fool you are.

  • I went to the Reagan Library over the weekend and did the whole tour.  I disagreed with Reagan on some things, but the comparison really brought into sharp relief the utter and complete fecklessness of the current occupant of the Oval Office.  Obama comes up so short on every single metric that it’s amazing anyone, even a tool like Erb, could vote for him.
    Then I got to work this morning and promptly had to clue the idiot leftist a couple of cubicles over in to the fact that military bases are gun-free zones.  I mean, I knew she was clueless, but she seriously did not know.  On the plus side, now she (and everyone else in the office) knows better.

  • First Maureen Down.  Then Joe Klein.  Then Roger Cohen.  And now Ruth Marcus, the Washington Post’s answer to Maureen Dowd, has figured out that Obama is an empty suit.  (I know, I know, if Ruth Marcus is the answer, the question has to be pretty silly.  But still. . .)  Anyway, cue Marcus: Style points? Seriously? Style points?
    As demonstrated here before, Erp is a VERY selective reader of only the moonbattery.

    • The first commenter there on your link…

      Obama seems to believe in the magical power of words to not only shape perceptions of the future but dictate perceptions of his past performance to smooth away the manifest inconsistencies and climb downs.

      Hmmm, who else do we know who think words behave like this? Buehler? Buehler??

    • Bill Whittle comes through again!

      • Some people praise Neville Chamberlain.

        • My word, he is the gift that keeps on giving. Who could have thought a third rate con-artist in the backwoods could keep delivering comedy gold for decades on end?

        • That’s because Erb has the autographed original copy (Hitler and Chamberlain) of the Piece of Paper signed by Mr Hitler that Chamberlain was waving when he arrived at Croyden airfield.
          History implies it was actually it was a scribble sheet of paper, a mere prop,  but I have reason to believe it was actually the long overdue bar-tab from a beer hall in Munich that Chamberlain agreed to pay for Hitler.

  • Erb you ignorant slut-
    This episode didnt cost us  prestige???
    Well maybe you’re right only because the boy king has already squandered it all

    • …When you got nuthin’, you got nuthin’ to lose…
      Ya got no secrets now…to confuse….
      How does it feel?

      Bobby Dylan.

    • No no, there’s always a little more to squander.
      We’ll see what happens when China decides today is a good day to enforce their maritime claim on everything between Hong Kong and Brunei because they’ve taken Brave Barry’s mighty measure and found him to be Pewee Herman.

  • President Obama waived a provision of federal law designed to prevent the supply of arms to terrorist groups to clear the way for the U.S. to provide military assistance to “vetted” opposition groups fighting Syrian dictator Bashar Assad.
    Some elements of the Syrian opposition are associated with radical Islamic terrorist groups, including al Qaeda, which was responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks in New York, Washington, D.C., and Shanksville, Pa., in 2001. Assad’s regime is backed by Iran and Hezbollah.
    The president, citing his authority under the Arms Export Control Act, announced today that he would “waive the prohibitions in sections 40 and 40A of the AECA related to such a transaction.”
    Sign Up for the Politics Today newsletter!
    Those two sections prohibit sending weaponry to countries described in section 40(d): “The prohibitions contained in this section apply with respect to a country if the Secretary of State determines that the government of that country has repeatedly provided support for acts of international terrorism,” Congress stated in the Arms Control Export Act.
    “For purposes of this subsection, such acts shall include all activities that the Secretary determines willfully aid or abet the international proliferation of nuclear explosive devices to individuals or groups or willfully aid or abet an individual or groups in acquiring unsafeguarded special nuclear material,” the law continues.
    The law allows the president to waive those prohibitions if he “determines that the transaction is essential to the national security interests of the United States.”
    —Washington Examiner
    WTF THOSE could be is anybody’s guess.


    • “determines that the transaction is essential to the national security interests of the United States”
      Well, rest assured, they don’t have anything to do with securing the southern border from Texas to California.   THAT isn’t in the national security interests.

  • You’ll always find yourself running in circles with respect to anything Obama does, in this case in foreign policy, if you approach it with the normative expectation that he is acting in good faith. Obama has no concept of good faith, except for the purpose of manipulating it in others.
    He doesn’t have any interest in American interests, which are simply an exercise in “bourgeois nationalism.” He has no interest in global interests, insofar as those interests are the interests of the sovereign state system.
    So the questions, “Was this good for America?/Was this bad for America?” are not elements of his thinking.
    One principle that Obama does operate on, whether it be in foreign policy, economic issues, etc., is “the worse, the better.” That is fundamental to his outlook.

    • Obama has no concept of good faith, except for the purpose of manipulating it in others.

      True, he doesn’t have anything like the concept of “good faith” that the an Enlightenment thinker would recognize, in which a person expects to do his best to fulfill any commitments he makes, and to not take on commitments that he knows he cannot fulfill.


      That’s because a committed leftist subordinates everything to the promotion of collectivism. In the mind of the committed leftist, there is no higher principle than defending and advancing collectivism.


      It’s their substitute for religious faith, and their whole conception of morality and ethics derives from that. When they sucker other people’s “good faith” to advance collectivism, they are doing good in their own minds.


      I often see people on the right expecting that committed leftists will show shame when they exhibit what, by the lights of civilized behavior, is immoral or unethical conduct. But there is no shame in doing the right thing, even if other (unenlightened) people don’t approve of it. So genuinely committed leftists, such as Obama and Professor Polywobble, are simply incapable of showing shame, no matter how red-handed they get caught. “Deny, deny, deny”, in the words of one of their leading lights.

    • Oh, and by the way, good to see you back in the comments. Perhaps I’ve missed it because of being busy myself, but I have not noticed anything from you in a while.

  • It’s not difficult to pick winners and losers here. Clearly, Russia is a winner — the deal-maker, the guarantor, the U.N. Security Council member packin’ a veto. Israel wins in the short run if Syria actually disposes of its WMDs. The long run, though, is a different story. Israel’s preoccupation is Iran and its presumed effort to make a nuclear weapon. If this happens, that’s another Obama red line — possibly another chance to wobble. But the Syrian people are the sure losers. The United States, the Russians and the Assad regime have a deal. WMDs must go. The killing by other means can continue.
    As for everyone else, we’re all losers. Because of Obama’s fecklessness — abetted by a Congress that has turned darkly isolationist — the world is now a less safe place. The policeman has proved to be a bumbler. He is unschooled in foreign policy. Rogues and killers have taken the measure of him. He is smaller than first appeared.
    An Obama forced to act like Bush is ironic, but no fun. They both got into their fixes by adhering to false policies. Bush had a red line for WMDs that didn’t exist. Obama, in the end, didn’t have one for WMDs that did.

    —Richard Cohen
    So.  That’s gotta sting….

    • Obama doesn’t like to be criticized, but Cohen’s criticism itself isn’t something that concerns him.
      Obama doesn’t care how Cohen, rogues or killers regard him.
      “The worse, the better.” He doesn’t care about peace. He doesn’t care about chemical weapons. He doesn’t care about Assad, although the “rebels” with their potential for uncertainty and confusion and endless violence (exactly like what you see in Libya now) would certainly appeal to him.
      Obama does not operate out of Western values.

  • As Stratfor explains: “Therefore, the final phase of the comedy played out in Geneva, the site of grave Cold War meetings (it is odd that Obama accepted this site given its symbolism), where the Russians agreed in some unspecified way on an uncertain time frame to do something about Syria’s chemical weapons. Obama promised not to take action that would have been ineffective anyway, and that was the end of it.”

  • A great article about Syria that makes the same point I do -I think the story line on Syria is starting to change as the experts realize the US got everything we want, and Obama got the agreement most in our interest:

    • So “we” wanted Russia to take the lead, get their people in there to act as human shields, get the US to stop arming the rebels, and show the “red line” to be meaningless?
      Speak for yourself.  Quit pretending that there are many people who buy into your hyper-partisan delusions.

    • LOL! Dear sweet silly Scott. Here you are parroting the same crapola you are posting in your own blog comments, where you merrily delete comments and have now started sock-puppeting supportive comments for yourself. Why so desperate Scott? Could it be you can’t even stomach your own nauseating bromantic drivel?

    • Have you ever heard the term “confirmation bias”?
      This sort of proof ‘you are right’ is akin to you proving you ARE Caesar because ‘Brutus’ tried to stab you in the rec-room when they let you out of your cell for an hours’ exercise.
      One man’s fantasy is not confirmation of reality for the other.

  • Once again Erb goes column hunting, desperate to find anybody out there who will report anything that remotely agrees with his version of the Obama debacle in Syria.  This time he finds an article by David Ignatius of the Washington Post.  The only thing significant about Ignatius is that he is almost as rabid a supporter of Obama as Erb.  Does the points he brings up make sense?  In a way, yes, but only from the narrow perspective of chemical weapons issue alone.  When you look at the wider vision of the Middle East, where the US is now the lapdog of Putin, it is a wonder that Erb can even breath considering is breathless announcement of “A great article that makes the same point I do . . ”  He talks about commenters like Limbaugh as being out of the mainstream with their anti-Obama rants.  Meanwhile he avoids mentioning articles by other such worthy leftists as Maureen Dowd – now there’s a neo-con you can get behind.  Or even such liberal stalwarts like Charlie Rangel who called the Presidents actions regarding Syria is “Embarrassing.”  Tell you what Erb, try and walk us down the path of all the other dime novelists out there who are supportive of your “points” and meanwhile we will continue to laugh at you!!!  While the rest of the world continues to laugh at your Messiah, Obama.  (PS – Banned any commenters on your blog lately?  Why don’t you go back to your little echo chamber and preach to the sycophants that coo at your every word and leave your betters alone here to discuss the affairs of the world.)