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Foreign Affairs

Well here’s a surprise – Obama’s Syria policy is failing

Yes, I called it a surprise facetiously.  Does Obama do anything that doesn’t fail (other than campaign)?

Meanwhile, two-faced government continues because, well you know, telling the real truth outloud just isn’t politically smart – especially with this administration’s record:

Two prominent Republican senators say that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told them — along with 13 other members of a bipartisan congressional delegation — that President Barack Obama’s administration is in need of a new, more assertive, Syria policy; that al-Qaeda-affiliated groups in Syria pose a direct terrorist threat to the U.S. homeland; that Russia is arming the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and is generally subverting chances for a peaceful settlement; that Assad is violating his promise to expeditiously part with his massive stores of chemical weapons; and that, in Kerry’s view, it may be time to consider more dramatic arming of moderate Syrian rebel factions.

Kerry is said to have made these blunt assertions Sunday morning behind the closed doors of a cramped meeting room in the Bayerischer Hof hotel in Munich, as the 50th annual Munich Security Conference was coming to a close in a ballroom two floors below. A day earlier, Kerry, in a joint appearance with U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on the ballroom stage, gave an uncompromising defense of the Obama administration’s level of foreign engagement: saying that,“I can’t think of a place in the world where we’re retreating.”

Really, Mr. Kerry?

Obama/Kerry’s Iran, Egypt, Afghanistan, Syria and Russian policies have been failures.  Israel has taken to actually ridiculing US efforts.  Saudi Arabia is said to be looking for a new patron in the Middle East.

And yet, given all of that, Kerry is still the loyal waterboy making false claims when anyone with an IQ higher than warm spit can see that during the Obama administration we’ve done nothing but retreat.

Being charitable, maybe Kerry meant we’re no longer retreating because, well, we’ve retreated about as far as is possible to retreat.

Oh, and yes, I saw the Obama/O’Reilly interview.  It had the same gripping suspense and entertainment content as the Superbowl.  In the case of Denver it was safety, interception, fumble, collapse. Obama was deny, deny, deny, blame, deny reality some more and then cast even more blame.

Pitiful.

~McQ

Saudi Arabia looks at “major shift” away from US

The kingdom is citing how badly this administration has botched events with both Syria and Iran as the reason:

Upset at President Barack Obama’s policies on Iran and Syria, members of Saudi Arabia’s ruling family are threatening a rift with the United States that could take the alliance between Washington and the kingdom to its lowest point in years.

Saudi Arabia’s intelligence chief is vowing that the kingdom will make a ‘major shift’ in relations with the United States to protest perceived American inaction over Syria’s civil war as well as recent U.S. overtures to Iran, a source close to Saudi policy said on Tuesday.

Prince Bandar bin Sultan told European diplomats that the United States had failed to act effectively against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, was growing closer to Tehran, and had failed to back Saudi support for Bahrain when it crushed an anti-government revolt in 2011, the source said.

Guess all that bowing and scraping by Obama didn’t impress them much.  So let’s review. Libya … destabilized and in a virtual state of anarchy.   Egypt … gone. Totally mishandled and now looking at other possible alliances. Saudi Arabia … going.  Syria and Iran … well into Russia’s orbit. Oh, yeah, that’s much better than when Bush was prez.

Meanwhile our Secretary of State is telling everyone relations with Saudi Arabia are both good and normal.

Really?

In unusually blunt public remarks, Prince Turki al-Faisal called Obama’s policies in Syria ‘lamentable’ and ridiculed a U.S.-Russian deal to eliminate Assad’s chemical weapons. He suggested it was a ruse to let Obama avoid military action in Syria.

‘The current charade of international control over Bashar’s chemical arsenal would be funny if it were not so blatantly perfidious. And designed not only to give Mr. Obama an opportunity to back down (from military strikes), but also to help Assad to butcher his people,’ said Prince Turki, a member of the Saudi royal family and former director of Saudi intelligence.

Now there’s respect, wouldn’t you say? You can tell that Saudi Arabia has all the respect in the world for this administration /sarc.

You know it is bad when they drop the diplo-speak and resort to “real-speak”.

No respect and certainly no fear of anything the US might do. In fact, it is because of what it hasn’t done or perhaps how badly it has done what it has done, that they are deciding to look elsewhere for an ally.

And who is waiting in the wings?

I imagine somewhere Hillary is pounding on the “reset” button.

Hey, Hill – what difference does it make now?

~McQ

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).

~McQ

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.

Syria: Humiliating, but probably the best deal possible

Michael Gerson, writing in the Washington Post, absolutely nails the magnitude of the debacle the Obama administration has suffered and the reason:

Sometimes a president does not have a communications problem. Sometimes a president has a reality problem.

President Obama’s speech to the nation on Syria was premised on the denial of reality. He claimed that the Russian/Syrian initiative resulted from the “credible threat of U.S. military action.” In fact, it filled a vacuum of presidential credibility. Obama had been isolated within the G-20 and abandoned by our closest ally, Britain. Americans overwhelmingly disapproved of a military strike for which the president clearly had no stomach. Obama was on the verge of the most devastating congressional foreign policy repudiation since the Senate voted 49-35 against entering the League of Nations in 1920.

This president’s biggest problem, other than a total lack of leadership ability, has been reality all along.   He’s always believed he simply has to speak and others will follow.  Yet, in reality he’s done precisely what Gerson claims he’s done – isolate himself and the US.  He has no close relationships internationally.  Our closest ally in everything we’ve done for centuries has abandoned us.  His credibility in the Middle East is hovering close to zero.  His “reset” policy with Russia has been a disaster.  And he remains reactive and indecisive at place in history that calls for decisiveness and leadership.  Consequently another nation is moving to take that lead he’s abandoned.

Vladimir Putin offered Obama an escape, which he gratefully took. But there are implicit costs. A U.S. military strike — something Putin thought inevitable just a few weeks ago — is off. Russia’s Syrian client, Bashar al-Assad, stays in power. The Syrian opposition is effectively hung out to dry. Russia gains a position of influence in the Middle East it has not held since Anwar Sadat threw the Soviets out of Egypt. This allows Moscow to supply proxies such as Syria and Iran with weapons while positioning itself as the defender of international law and peace. Iran sees that the United States is a reluctant power, with a timid and polarized legislature, that can easily be deflected from action by transparent maneuvers.

Other than this, ’twas a famous victory.

Speaking of credibility, to watch the spin-meisters attempt to call this a “famous victory” shreds what little they may still enjoy.  No one grounded in reality and at all concerned with their credibility would declare this any sort of a ‘victory’ for the US.

But hey we had a speech …

The resulting message was boldly mixed. Assad is a moral monster — who is now our partner in negotiations. The consequences would be terrible “if we fail to act” — which now seems the most likely course. America “doesn’t do pinpricks” — especially when it does not do anything. “The burdens of leadership are often heavy” — unless they are not assumed.

And here we are.  A shrunken giant, leaderless and adrift.  “Led” by an incompetent with coming negotiations headed by another incompetent (Kerry), both of whom have been badly played by the Russians and the Syrians.  There’s no reason to believe they won’t come out on the short end of this deal either.
As for the planned, then unplanned, then delayed, then put on indefinite hold strike that Kerry claims is the reason Syria came to the table – Charles Krauthammer lays that out for you:

That “strike Syria, maybe” speech begins with a heart-rending account of children consigned to a terrible death by a monster dropping poison gas. It proceeds to explain why such behavior must be punished. It culminates with the argument that the proper response — the most effective way to uphold fundamental norms, indeed human decency — is a flea bite: something “limited,” “targeted” or, as so memorably described by Secretary of State John Kerry, “unbelievably small.”

“Unbelievably small”.  Likely had ‘em shaking in their boots in Damascus.

Krauthammer also sums up the “deal” Obama et. al. are now trying to claim was their idea all along (not that anyone but the most gullible or partisan or both are buying that):

The hinge of the entire Russian strategy is saving the Assad regime. That’s the very purpose of the “Russian proposal.” Imagine that some supposed arms-control protocol is worked out. The inspectors have to be vetted by Assad, protected by Assad, convoyed by Assad, directed by Assad to every destination. Negotiation, inspection, identification, accounting, transport and safety would require constant cooperation with the regime, and thus acknowledgment of its sovereignty and legitimacy.

So much for Obama’s repeated insistence that Assad must go. Indeed, Putin has openly demandedthat any negotiation be conditioned on a U.S. commitment to forswear the use of force against Assad. On Thursday, Assad repeated that demand, warning that without an American pledge not to attack and not to arm the rebels, his government would agree to nothing.

This would abolish the very possibility of America tilting the order of battle in a Syrian war that Assad is now winning thanks to Russian arms, Iranian advisers and Lebanese Hezbollah shock troops. Putin thus assures the survival of his Syrian client and the continued ascendancy of the anti-Western Iranian bloc.

And what does America get? Obama saves face.

Some deal.

Indeed … some deal.

All of that said, it may end up being the “best” deal we could hope for given the ineptness and incompetence of this administration. Back to Gerson:

I am relieved that President Obama was given a reprieve from a devastating rejection by Congress, which would have wounded the presidency itself. We should hope (against hope) that a negotiation with Putin, Assad and the U.N. Security Council to establish international control of the world’s third-largest chemical weapons stockpile in the middle of a civil war is successful. And Congress should seek ways to strengthen Obama’s hand in negotiations.

But this remains a sad moment for the United States. We have seen a Putin power play, based on a Kerry gaffe, leading to a face-saving presidential retreat — and this was apparently the best of the available options.

Pretty bad when this is the best outcome one could hope for … a degree of face saving for a less that satisfactory president who still doesn’t realize how badly he was bested.

~McQ

Outplayed on the world’s stage

Well you’ve all seen the Putin op-ed in the NY Times so I’m not going to spend too much time on it other than to say it is another indicator of the lack of respect the President of the United States has internationally.  I can’t imagine Putin trying this with any other president. This is just “in your face” stuff from the Russian president.  On the other side of that, I can’t imagine an op-ed like that ever being given the okay in Pravda or any like publication.

But it is another among many indicators of how outclassed and how outplayed the administration has been in this foreign policy mess of their own making.

That said, it’s time to look at the status and likely progress on the quest to bring Syria’s chemical weapons under international control.

Secretary of State John Kerry headed late Wednesday to Geneva with a team of arms control experts for intensive talks with his Russian counterpart, Sergey V. Lavrov, to try to reach an agreement on how to secure and ultimately destroy Syria’s chemical weapons.

Mr. Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, was taking his own arms control experts to the negotiations, holding out the possibility that there would be depth and detail to the talks. But sharp divisions remained between the two powers less than 24 hours after President Obama said he would hold off on an American military strike on Syria and gave a qualified endorsement to a Russian proposal for international monitors to take over the country’s chemical arsenal.

“Sharp divisions” is diplo-speak for “we’re miles and miles and miles apart – don’t expect any agreement anytime soon.”

Or as we said the other day, “Syria has all the time in the world to do whatever it wishes to do.”

American officials said the Syria debate would now unfold largely in Geneva, where the United States wants the talks to focus not only on Syria’s chemical weapons but also on securing munitions like bombs or warheads that are designed for chemical attacks. The officials acknowledged that securing the delivery systems for attacks goes far beyond what Mr. Lavrov has offered or is likely to agree to in Geneva this week.

Adding to the complexity of the diplomatic task is the reality that even if a deal is reached, it would take a year or more to destroy Syria’s chemical stores. One estimate by Pentagon officials determined that Mr. Assad has 1,400 tons of sarin, VX and mustard agents, and that it would take at least 200 to 300 days to take control of the weapons and, short of destruction, to make them unusable.

A lot can be hidden in “200 to 300″ days, can’t they.  And, talks can easily stall, be delayed, be postponed, be suspended, etc., all while Russia plays hardball to our T-ball.

With Putin’s op-ed and Russia leading on the Syria debacle, while the administration plays defense, you’re seeing a leadership shift right before your eyes.  Barack Obama has all but ceded the superpower role the US has enjoyed … he’s squandered it with is inept handling of foreign affairs, his abject lack of leadership and his inability to attract any support for his policies.

I’m pining for Jimmy Carter for heaven sake.

~McQ

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.

~McQ

Stumbling into a solution on Syria?

Yeah, not really … although the usual suspects are bound to try to spin this as a triumph of diplomacy.  Oh, it’s a “solution” (“Peace in our time”!) … but not one that accomplishes much of what the US wanted done – well, except maybe save a little face.  And for that, they’re rather glad to capitulate.

In fact, as The New Republic pointed out, Putin and Assad just played Obama … big time. They knew he was desperate for a way to climb down from his “red line” comments and so they took an absurd, off the cuff remark by Sec. State John Kerry and the administration said, “sure”.

As TNR reports it:

Speaking in London next to British Foreign Secretary William Hague on Monday, Secretary of State John Kerry said that perhaps the military strike around which the administration has been painfully circling for weeks could be avoided if Bashar al-Assad can “turn over every single bit of his chemical weapons to the international community in the next week. Turn it over, all of it, without delay, and allow a full and total accounting for that.”

The fact that Kerry immediately followed with, “But he isn’t about to do it, and it can’t be done, obviously,” didn’t seem to bother anyone. (Probably because they were focusing on his other slip-up: calling the promised strikes “unbelievably small.”)

The Russians immediately jumped on the impromptu proposal, calling Kerry to check if he was serious before going live with their proposal to lean on Syria. An hour later, they trotted out Syria’s foreign minister, Walid al-Mouallem, who said he too was down with the proposal, which was a strange way to get the Syrians to finally admit they even had chemical weapons to begin with. Before long, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon, the English, and the French were all on board, too.

As for the “truth” about this being something planned by the White House and Kerry? Too late to claim that. The White House blurted out reality:

Meanwhile, back in Washington, the White House was just as surprised as anyone. Asked if this was a White House plan that Kerry had served up in London, Deputy National Security Advisor Tony Blinken was unequivocal. “No, no, no,” he said. “We literally just heard about this as you did some hours ago.”

That would be funny if it wasn’t so sad and scary.

So how did they play the Obama administration? Remember that Kerry said they had to be under international control in a “week”? Yeah, that’s going to happen isn’t it. How about 2 years? 3?

Here’s the point … they avert any strike with their agreement knowing the international community – now that the UN is back in the game and Russia and China still have Security Council vetoes – won’t be able to move the ball for months if at all.

Again, I’ll just let TNR lay it out for you:

[Kerry] answered a hypothetical question in a hypothetical way. He blurted out a pie-in-the-sky, hyperbolic idea—getting rid of “every single bit” of the chemical weapons scattered across Syria “in the next week”—but everyone seized on it as a realistic proposal. It’s not.

First, how do you deal with a regime that only admits it has chemical weapons under the threat of impending military intervention? Or that uses chemical weapons while a team of U.N. inspectors is there to investigate the prior use of chemical weapons, in the same city?

Second, that handful of chemical weapons storage and mixing facilities are just the ones we know about, and, now that the U.S. has been loudly beating the war drum for weeks, Assad has been moving his troops and weapons around. If we thought getting to “beyond a reasonable doubt” with the intelligence on the August 21 chemical attack was hard, imagine us getting to “every single bit.”

Third, negotiating with the Russians and the Syrians about what “every single bit” and what disposing them mean will certainly take more than “the next week.” Both Moscow and Damascus have all the time in the world, and the Kremlin, which has never met a legal norm it couldn’t waltz around, will quibble and hair-split and insist that this is all done legally—whatever that means in Moscow.

Fourth, the mechanics of disposing these chemical weapons are far from straightforward. Quoth the Times: “flying [the chemical weapons] out of the country is not as simple as picking up nuclear components—as the United States did in Libya in late 2003—and moving them to a well-guarded site in Tennessee.”

Fifth, and most important, is the fact that Assad giving up his chemical weapons was only part of the stated objective. If you listened to the White House pitch closely, the point of the military strike was not just to stop Assad from using chemical weapons further on his citizens, and it was not just to warn other rogue leaders with their fingers on various triggers. Part of the goal was to force a political solution that would remove Assad from power. That is, even though the Obama administration has been insisting that it is not interested in “regime change,” that disastrous cornerstone of the Bush era, it was, in fact, pursuing regime change, at least until Monday.

Played.

Absolutely played. Oh, sure, Obama can now climb down and pretend to have implemented a real solution by claiming his threat of a strike caused this. In fact, the threat of a strike is pretty much irrelevant right now.  We’re into interminable word wars now.  By taking this up, as TNR points out, Syria now has “all the time in the world” while Russia plays its part in international negotiations. Immune now from a military strike and no real threat that anything will happen of any significance to take control of their chemical weapons any time soon.

So Assad will pursue his strategy without any implicit or explicit attempt at regime change (or deterrence, or armed intervention or …) and, as it appears the regime is getting the upper hand in the civil war, work toward ending it. Then Russia can declare the control of Syria’s chemical weapons a moot point and veto everything in sight.

Amazing.

But it is all good in the White House – they think the president’s credibility has been saved by this charade.

Seriously … they do.

So it’s back to “leading from behind.”

As it stands now, Russia and France have taken the lead on working out a plan to get Assad to hand over his chemical weapons, a lead Obama seems all too happy to relinquish. Hammering out the details will take a some time, and, while they’re at it, Assad will still have his chemical weapons but will no longer be under the threat of a U.S. military strike. (Who knows if he’ll use them, but he certainly hasn’t let up on the conventional shelling.) Putin has succeeded in throwing sand in the gears of the American political process and separating the U.S. from its allies, and the current American handwringing over Syria seems likely to grind on for weeks. And a pro-Assad paper ran with the following headline this morning: “Moscow and Damascus Pull the Rug Out From Under the Feet of Obama.”

~McQ

Amateur hour in foreign affairs

What’s the saying? “It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt?

Living proof:

Iran is enduring economic sanctions designed to slow the country’s nuclear weapons program, but President Obama’s team thought the regime might abandon dictator Bashar Assad over his use of chemical weapons in Syria’s civil war.

Samantha Power, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, hoped that a team of UN investigators — many of whom, presumably, have a longstanding relationship with Iranian leaders — could write a report that would convince Iran to abandon its ally at the behest of the United States.

“We worked with the UN to create a group of inspectors and then worked for more than six months to get them access to the country on the logic that perhaps the presence of an investigative team in the country might deter future attacks,” Power said at the Center for American Progress as she made the case for intervening in Syria.

“Or, if not, at a minimum, we thought perhaps a shared evidentiary base could convince Russia or Iran — itself a victim of Saddam Hussein’s monstrous chemical weapons attacks in 1987-1988 — to cast loose a regime that was gassing it’s people,” she said.

Good lord … how freakin’ naive and inept is this bunch, really?

Result of naive thinking?

Rather than “cast loose” Assad after the latest chemical weapons attack, as the Obama team hoped, “Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei has warned the Obama administration against any proposed military strike on Syria,” as the International Business Times reports.

Look, it’s fairly simple – if the US is “for” something, Iran is most likely going to be against it. It has been like that for decades. And, in Iran’s world, Iraq does not equal Syria. More importantly, no matter what Syria does, it isn’t the “Great Satan”. And nothing his bunch has done in 4 1/2 years has changed that calculation one bit.

Incompetence on a level not yet seen before.

~McQ

How do you ask a man to be the first to die for a mistake?

That, of course is exactly what Obama and, ironically, Kerry, are going to ask US servicemen and women to risk for their tattered “credibility”.

And is this the side we’re interested in backing?

The Syrian rebels posed casually, standing over their prisoners with firearms pointed down at the shirtless and terrified men.

The prisoners, seven in all, were captured Syrian soldiers. Five were trussed, their backs marked with red welts. They kept their faces pressed to the dirt as the rebels’ commander recited a bitter revolutionary verse.

“For fifty years, they are companions to corruption,” he said. “We swear to the Lord of the Throne, that this is our oath: We will take revenge.”

The moment the poem ended, the commander, known as “the Uncle,” fired a bullet into the back of the first prisoner’s head. His gunmen followed suit, promptly killing all the men at their feet.

This scene, documented in a video smuggled out of Syria a few days ago by a former rebel who grew disgusted by the killings, offers a dark insight into how many rebels have adopted some of the same brutal and ruthless tactics as the regime they are trying to overthrow.

Those sorts of executions are tantamount to murder.  I’m not saying that Syrian forces are any better, but to pretend that we’re helping out a side which is at all friendly to us or not packed to the rafters with murderous Islamic extremists is to simply blind one’s self to reality.  And one has to wonder why alleged death by chemical weapons is somehow more atrocious or horrific than these murders?  No “red line” here, huh?

Much of the concern among American officials has focused on two groups that acknowledge ties to Al Qaeda. These groups — the Nusra Front and the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria — have attracted foreign jihadis, used terrorist tactics and vowed to create a society in Syria ruled by their severe interpretation of Islamic law.

They have established a firm presence in parts of Aleppo and Idlib Provinces and in the northern provincial capital of Raqqa and in Deir al-Zour, to the east on the Iraqi border.

While the jihadis claim to be superior fighters, and have collaborated with secular Syrian rebels, some analysts and diplomats also note that they can appear less focused on toppling President Bashar al-Assad. Instead, they said, they focus more on establishing a zone of influence spanning Iraq’s Anbar Province and the desert eastern areas of Syria, and eventually establishing an Islamic territory under their administration.

Other areas are under more secular control, including the suburbs of Damascus. In East Ghouta, for example, the suburbs east of the capital where the chemical attack took place, jihadis are not dominant, according to people who live and work there.

While many have deridingly called our potential effort there as acting as “al Queda’s air force”, that does, in fact, hold some truth.  There is a well-organized effort among the rebels by Islamists to co-opt the effort if it is successful and turn Syria into an extremist Islamic state.  And we want to help that effort?  Why?

And while the United States has said it seeks policies that would strengthen secular rebels and isolate extremists, the dynamic on the ground, as seen in the execution video from Idlib and in a spate of other documented crimes, is more complicated than a contest between secular and religious groups.

What nonsense.  Why in the world would anyone believe that the incompetent crew that makes up this administration has any possibility of actually being able to accomplish that? One only has to survey the shipwreck that is this nation’s foreign policy under Captain “Red Line” and it is clear that they could no more make that happen than understand that ego shouldn’t drive the use of the US military.

But it apparently is going too. The siren song of “save our president” is being wailed within the Congress and the usual party hacks appear to be lining up to put the men and women of the military in harm’s way because Obama shot his mouth off before doing the very basic work necessary to ensure he could back his words up and now Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines are going to be asked to pull his fat out of a fire of his own making.

But back to our “leaders”:

Chris Matthews of MSNBC, who served on Capitol Hill for years as a top Democratic aide, put the party’s dilemma in stark terms on Wednesday: “I think the Democrats are going to be forced to sacrifice men and women who really, really don’t want to vote for this. They’re going to have to vote for it to save the president’s hide. That’s a bad position to put your party in.”

“Sacrifice” men and women.  What a freaking insult.  Matthews likens a political act to a “sacrifice”.  Give it a rest you buffoon. He’s apparently more than willing to risk the sacrifice of military lives in order to “save the president’s hide”.

And make no mistake, even a partisan hack like Matthews knows this is a crisis of the president’s own making.  And why are they willing to go along?  Not because Syria has any compelling national interest to the United States or that it poses an imminent threat to the country.  Nope.  It’s pure politics:

The Obama administration’s efforts to get Congress to pass an authorization for military force against Syria are going badly in policy terms, but they are looking up in political terms. Even as the administration’s arguments become more strained, the political imperative that Democrats must support their president or risk having him “crippled” for the next 40 months is being drilled into them.

That’s it.  Take us to war instead of face the political consequences of Obama’s self-inflicted wound.  Apparently there’s much more at stake than a few military lives.  /sarc

These are the people who you want leading you?

Really?

~McQ