As I write this article, our president is addressing our Congress trying to convince them that we have incontrovertible evidence that Syria’s Assad regime has used chemical weapons against its own population. The only problem is that the evidence is not incontrovertible about who used the chemical weapons. I just read an excellent presentation by an Arab professor at the American University in Cairo. He said that both sides have committed atrocities, but the edge for guilt in this case is on the official team. He presents both sides of the argument, notes the massively growing jihadist component in the opposition fighting Assad and the growing caution of Jordan toward use of force, and concludes he can find no serious motive for the Assad government to have used the weapons. He is confounded and suggests perhaps a rogue official used them in anger after a rebel attack. But our government, no doubt assured by Israeli intelligence, insists it was Assad. And we are to assume that Israel does not have its own motives for wishing Mr. Assad gone and a friendly regime installed by the US and NATO. But then Israel is acting for the benefit of Israel. On whose behalf is Obama working?
I thought for a long time that only I and Pat Buchanan had worked up sufficient outrage against America’s increasingly wilder sway from the path of international legal norms and precedents. All it took was the prospect of another Iraq for that vast silent majority in America to stand up and say “hell, no!” Now I read a banner headline on Fox News that the UK Parliament has voted down preliminary authorization to go to war against Syria. My heart is filled with hope that maybe, despite the most arduous efforts of official DC (and Europe) to ignore the vox populi, the people will make themselves heard. I never marched against a war before, but I would now. Or maybe I’ll have to go to Europe, where the left is in full battle gear and Russian operatives and others are busy handing out money to finance the massive street demonstrations that have already begun.
It seems to me that we are experiencing the relentless grinding of the gears of fate; it all seems to be both slowing down and speeding up. On top of his abuses of power at home, that are becoming increasingly egregious, Obama is now violating international law. In doing so, he is going up against all his erstwhile admirers who are even now painting warpaint on their cheeks and handing out the placards. The Nobel Peace Prize Committee that nominated Obama for his astounding efforts at peace (huh?) will no doubt be forthcoming at any moment to ask for the return of the money and the trophy. The irony is that Obama is viscerally pacifist, the kind of guy we used to call pantywaist pinko liberals. Obama developed a limited taste for violence, but he only likes easy and popular wars where he can take credit for the superior US military performance. Obama has the fox’s sly sense of danger. He is sniffing the wind and knows that something wicked this way comes. He doesn’t want to go to war, because the odds against success are high and the risks are enormous. A lot of Syrians will die; who knows how many Americans and Europeans will fall both in the fighting and in the ensuing terrorism spike. Obama is taking on Russia and China at the UN and Russia and Iran in the theater of war (although Russia claims it will not impede the US.) Iran alone controls significant fighting resources that are a key to Assad’s tenure. All parties have serious interests in the region. Far more serious interests than the US has.
I just received an e-mail from a British friend, a retired RAF officer, who wonders what on earth has happened in our countries. Don’t these politicians ever learn, he asked. I assured him they learn for one electoral term. He was amazed to find that in the 21st century, we still have leaders who throw their weight around as if it was the 1850s. I could only agree whole-heartedly.
It is absolute madness for the US or any of its NATO allies to be seeking another war of aggression. None of the states involved can afford the drain on national treasure and the societal consequences. A frail and uncertain economic recovery is at grave risk. And for what? That is the question of the hour. And another question that will not be considered now, but should be is: will there be enough left for us to defend our homelands when it comes to that? Or will we have frittered away our security for the thrill of power and the exercise of power, or the messianic desire to change the world in our own image.
John McCain and Obama would have you believe that we cannot tolerate the use of chemical weapons. I would argue, then let us go to the UN for an open discussion of the evidence for and against Assad’s guilt and a common position. Their response is war under any other name but war. Furthermore, John McCain’s fury over the use of chemical weapons in Syria is unimpressive. He has been badgering the Obama government, with which he has obsequiously curried favor, to take up arms against Assad for quite some time. Even though Assad was not long ago considered by the Obama spokes-community to be a reformist progressive, McCain wasted not one moment turning on Assad when his moral dander got up and the rest of the hawks followed suit. When you feel an incessant need to assert your power, it seems to me, you’ve got a screw loose. This continues McCain’s increasingly bellicose positions in foreign affairs and argues for his earliest retirement. Hopefully he will take his Siamese twin along with him.
I am totally unable to predict where this is all going. When you would think that the squishy Obama would be backpedaling furiously, given the vote in the UK Parliament, he seems to be settling on the side of use of force. Illegal use of force, may I add. And they aren’t just stopping at a bombing war. The Pentagon is said to be moving forces into the region. Just to be on the safe side, I guess. But don’t worry. Obama’s mouthpieces say this situation has nothing whatsoever in common with the US war in Iraq. They’re leaking that it will be nothing more than a piddling few days of dropping bombs on human beings. Our prez doesn’t want to send Assad packing, just teach him a lesson.
And Obama may just have thrown up his hands in annoyance. He is damned if he does, and damned if he doesn’t, and he did say that cw use was a red line. He doesn’t want to be the world’s 90-pound weakling, the empty suit once idolized and now despised. He’ll have to do something to show how powerful we are.
Like I said, if you feel that need to show off your power – you’ve got a screw loose.