image via Weasel Zippers
The Obama foreign policy has become utterly incoherent.
It’s gotten so bad that someone who is normally an Obama water carrier found himself unable to comprehend Obama’s words.
“A whole bunch,” meet “systematic.” President Barack Obama’s cautious stance on the conflict in Syria shone clearly Friday as he warned President Bashar Assad that “the systematic use” of chemical weapons against Syrian rebels would trigger a forceful American response.
Back in August, Obama bluntly warned Assad’s regime that while he had not “at this point” ordered an American military response to Syria’s civil war, “a red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized.”
When it comes to chemical weapons, what is “a whole bunch”? What does “systematic” mean? The White House has carefully refused to define either term precisely, keeping the president’s options open. Republicans have called for a far more forceful U.S. role in Syria, notably by arming the rebels and establishing “safe zones” to protect the opposition or Syrians fleeing the fighting.
Note the specific and measurable terms: “A whole bunch.” “Systematic.” On Friday, April 26 Obama also said
“I think all of us, not just in the United States but around the world, recognize how we cannot stand by and permit the systematic use of weapons like chemical weapons on civilian populations.”
Or maybe he can, since that tough rhetoric is now dismissed as “off the cuff remarks.”
WASHINGTON — Confronted with evidence that chemical weapons have been used in Syria, President Obama now finds himself in a geopolitical box, his credibility at stake with frustratingly few good options.
In a frenetic series of meetings, the White House devised a 48-hour plan to deter President Bashar al-Assad of Syria by using intermediaries like Russia and Iran to send a message that one official summarized as, “Are you crazy?” But when Mr. Obama emerged to issue the public version of the warning, he went further than many aides realized he would.
Moving or using large quantities of chemical weapons would cross a “red line” and “change my calculus,” the president declared in response to a question at a news conference, to the surprise of some of the advisers who had attended the weekend meetings and wondered where the “red line” came from. With such an evocative phrase, the president had defined his policy in a way some advisers wish they could take back.
It was supposed to scare Assad without Obama actually having to act.
“The idea was to put a chill into the Assad regime without actually trapping the president into any predetermined action,” said one senior official, who, like others, discussed the internal debate on the condition of anonymity. But “what the president said in August was unscripted,” another official said. Mr. Obama was thinking of a chemical attack that would cause mass fatalities, not relatively small-scale episodes like those now being investigated, except the “nuance got completely dropped.”
Obama is now reportedly considering supplying lethal weapons to the Syrian resistance after indicating a few months ago that he would not do so.
The general consensus is that Obama shot his mouth off without thinking.
“I’m not convinced it was thought through,” said Barry Pavel, a former defense policy adviser to Mr. Obama who is now at the Atlantic Council. “I’m worried about the broader damage to U.S. credibility if we make a statement and then come back with lawyerly language to get around it.”
While Mr. Pavel favors a more active response to the killings in Syria, others worry that Mr. Obama may have trapped himself into going too far. Zbigniew Brzezinski, a national security adviser under President Jimmy Carter, told Bloomberg Television that military involvement in Syria would risk “a large-scale disaster for the United States.”
And heck, despite what Obama said, we really don’t care if Syria uses chemical weapons
Mr. Obama’s advisers also raised legal issues. “How can we attack another country unless it’s in self-defense and with no Security Council resolution?” another official said, referring to United Nations authorization. “If he drops sarin on his own people, what’s that got to do with us?”
But what does seem clear is that the Obama regime has no idea what it is doing.
Within the administration, the debate over what to do continues.
“The problem here is we react so slowly,” said Andrew J. Tabler, a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. “There have been many well-thought-out plans, but they address a certain context. Then the context changes, we see the situation as rapidly deteriorating, and the recommendations are no longer so finely tuned.”
Assad was either sending weapons to Hezb’allah for 1. safekeeping, or 2. use against Israel.
Israel struck those weapons.
Then Israel struck more of Syria’s/Iran’s weapons inside Syria.
Now it is….
Jet Strike Near Damascus Sends Fireball Over City…
USA ‘not notified before’ launch…
SYRIA WARNS: ‘Opens door to all possibilities’…
Egypt, Arab League condemn ‘attacks’…
Iran calls for region to unite…
Israel Deploys Iron Dome…
Obama once famously said, “Why can’t I just eat my waffle?”
Gee, it sure must bug him that these events are going to to impinge on his leisure lifestyle.
Senior White House officials said a decision will come within weeks.
Look at how fast things are happening in the region.
Our ”ditherer-in-chief” is going to have to move faster than weeks.
Assad may have wanted to get the UN to shift it’s focus to a new Israel &Hezb’allah military conflict, to get the heat off himself. We are well aware of the very vocal Anti-Israel UN representatives. By giving such weapon systems to radicals, who are very likely to use them, he allows a dasterdly attack on the Jewish nation without having pushed the button. This would have created a new immediate problem in the Middle East to divert attention away from the Syrian “civil” war. (Personally, I’ve always considered “civil war” to be an absurd word combination.)
@Ditto: Just looked. Top story on Google News reads: “Israel’s Red Line” from the Daily Beast. As you get to the second paragraph, it smoothly transitions into being all about Hezzbollah. On the right there’s a banner that has some person claiming Syria is “just a distraction.”
I guess we all know how the propaganda bureau would like us to think. The article clearing took the President’s words, applied them to Israel, and took all the heat and immediacy off of the US.
I just can’t fathom how the media is being used to obscure the truth, rather than report and scrutinize for the good of our citizens, and the world.
The extreme right wing seem bound and determined to decimate our economy with another war. Due to the influence of such means of production as robotization, the last large war which had even a possibility of benefiting the economy was Vietnam.
@Nan G: As Mata said “What would you have him do.” Many Repubs. want him to arm the opposition. What say you?
I’ve said leave it to the Israeliis to do what they do best and what is in THEIR immediate interest.
Maybe a no-fly/travel enforcement between Syria and Iran?
Without Iran Assad falls quickly and we don’t even have to arm his al Qaeda opponents.
There MIGHT even be a few anti-Iran nearby states (Jordan, Egypt, etc.) willing to assist Obama in this.
@Nan G: No fly sounds good–Worked in Libya. Are you O.K. with current resistance fighters taking control of the Govt?
Actually, it has been exposed that the US-backed insurgents have used sarin.
US-backed. Read it and weep.
Assad behaved himself for decades …. until Obama came along and encouraged the uprisings now known as the “Arab Spring.”
Then he went nuts.
His people looked for that ”strong horse” Osama bin Ladin said Muslims always gravitate towards.
One faction of strong horses now active in Syria is al Qeada.
Perhaps we are doomed to (hopefully only watch) another Hundred Years’ War as various factions of Islam each seek to spread and establish the caliph who will rule the world.
But many Islamic states are failed states which cannot survive without constant expansion and forced labor from non-Muslims or poor foreign Muslims.
Even the richest Islamic states would fail without foreign workers.
(Remember the disease killing camels in the Saudi Kingdom a few years ago? They had No One in country who could even diagnose it, much less treat it!)
Just who do you suppose is writing the SCRIPT ? Maybe the Presentdent forgot to check with the puppet-master? Reminds me of Otis in Superman LOL.
Assad gets more encouragement and help from the Iraqi government and Iran than from the US. And today we find out that maybe it wasn’t Assad who used the gas, but instead maybe it was the rebels. In either case the number killed by the gas is less than 1% of the total deaths so far in Syria. Syria is a hot mess. And will continue to be no matter what the USA does or does not do. That said any posters who feel strongly about doing something/anything are welcome to go over and have at it. Send us emails and postcards. Syria is a civil war, oh and there are about 1 million christians caught up in it (most support Assad not the islamists) write your Congressmen and tell them to allow all to be admitted as refugees.
@Rasputin the Great: Next comes the news the serial numbers trace back to Saddam on both sides.
@Rasputin the Great: It has been alleged.
A UN official, Carla Del Ponte, made the claim.
Her commission emphasized today that the investigators had not yet reached conclusive findings.
Now, even she is backing off:
Carla Del Ponte said on Swiss television yesterday that the UN investigators had “strong, concrete suspicions but not yet incontrovertible proof,” of rebel use of chemical weapons, BBC News.
The commission’s findings come out June 3rd.
Here’s another weird one:
US and British inquiries into the same issue turned up evidence suggesting that the Syrian regime has used chemical weapons. Ms. Del Ponte said yesterday that the UN commission’s findings don’t eliminate the possibility that the regime used them as well, but that the commission does not have evidence suggesting it.
So, what do we know about Ms. Del Ponte to either add to or subtract from her credibility?
Remember the story that Kosovo Albanians had smuggled human organs of kidnapped Serbs after the Kosovo war ended in 1999?
She was behind that story.
No evidence in support of such allegations was ever brought before the Tribunal’s judges!
ALL of the ”accused” were ACQUITTED TWICE!
So, how do you view her unfounded allegations, now?
And, frankly, why is this woman still employed in any fact-finding capacity whatsoever?
You know she’s not the only one making this allegation, right?
Yeah, let’s start another war we can’t afford, this time with a country that actually has a military. Good idea.
@LibertyAtStake: That has already happened when parts of rockets (That Saddam did not have) that could carry wmds (That Saddam did not have) were found in Syria and Turkey.Wonder of they were on those convoys the US watched travel to Syria before Feb 2003.
If Muslims want to kill other Muslims, who are we to interfere? We need to stop losing the lives of our young men and women in wars that do not affect our nation al security. If Bill Kristol, John McCain and Miss Lucy Graham want to fight, give them each an AK-47 and parachute their butts into the middle of Syria.
Who is the mouse in her pocket, Rasputin?
Spot on bc3b.
@bc3b: I agree- the more muslims that die mean nothing to me, and why should they? If the ignorant ragheads want to kill their own, well that is fine and dandy.You know, for the last 600 years, the muslim world has been as stupid as the sand they live on. Without oil, we would not be having this conversation, as they would be as crappy a region as Africa has been.
Let them fight each other as much as they want.
There is NO country over there worth an American’s sweat, much less his or her blood.
Obama has just signaled Iran that he has no intention of military intervention as they move toward a nuclear weapon.
Iran is arming Assad’s Syria.
Obama won’t do anything against Iran.
How do we know?
James Dobbins is a prominent exponent of the idea that America can live with a nuclear Iran.
He co-authored a 2011 monograph titled: “Coping with a Nuclearizing Iran.”
Dobbins equate Israel’s nuclear capability and Iran’s attempt to acquire a nuclear capability.
IOW, no biggie.
Dobbins argues against the use of military force against Iran under any circumstances.
What difference does it make?
Obama last week appointed James Dobbins as special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Assad will get his weapons, Iran will build its bomb.
Obama will play with Reggis Love.
Are you proposing that we blow up the world now so we won’t have to do it later? Attacking Iran will start WWIII, won’t it? If the rest of the world would stop buying oil from the Middle East, Islam would have nothing with which to pay for their WMDs… but we won’t go that far. We’re too hooked on oil to prevent our own destruction. Kind of like those rats who won’t stop tripping on cocaine long enough to eat.