Syria: The Perils of Unserious Policy

shutterstock_112013561Has the president’s widest window to enforce his own ‘red line’ policy in Syria already closed?

The domestic politics are dicey at best.

If President Obama wanted to send a statement of his seriousness to Bashar Assad, delivered via stand-off weapons like cruise missiles, he should have done so using existent precedence for the executive branch to authorize limited military actions. Certainly, his goal is not considerably larger than that; this intervention would be to save face, which is sadly not unheard of in the history of warfare.

The problem is, the president is daily displaying how inept his leadership on, and understanding of, foreign affairs and matters military truly is.

He didn’t, strictly speaking, need congressional approval to strike Syria, (he didn’t seem to in Libya), but he chose to go that route and enlist the Hill’s help this time, (in the wake of the Libyan debacle) to blur the lines and take his fingerprints off the potential blowback that could arise from such a strike. Or to give him a convenient out in the case of non-action, (“hey, Congress said ‘no’. We’re a democracy, etc., etc.”).

It seems the president spells ‘Syria’ with ‘C-Y-A’.

That is, indeed, what this proposed enterprise is all about. It’s notably not about removing Assad, ending the slaughter, or realizing a larger vision for the region. This is obvious, since he is intent on proving to us just how inconsequential and non sequitur this strike is designed to be.

With all the incessant pledges to place “no boots on the ground” and that this strike “won’t escalate” and is a “proportional response” and serves as a “shot across the bow”–it’s clear he doesn’t really feel the mission is a substantial one. It’s a slap-on-the-wrist punishment by his own admission.

So, why the hell are we talking about doing it?

Well, President Obama, showing his inexperience, decided to talk tough about the issue without caring about the import of his words. Maybe not even knowing the import of his words. He’s done this time and time again but, with foreign policy, bluster has a tendency to be heard around the world. He talked himself into a corner, and now his reputation and credibility is on the line–despite his childlike protests to the contrary. He claims it is Congress, and not he, who have placed their credibility in jeopardy, once again attempting to spread or outright avoid any blame for the grotesque state of the nation’s affairs.

But Congress can’t launch a military strike–when people die on a battlefield in which America is a participant, as President Truman said: the buck stops here.

When a president clearly doesn’t truly believe in his own war policy, few others will follow his dictates. He doesn’t, so people won’t.

The next danger with regard to his ineptitude on the Syrian question is this: if the authorization for military force fails in Congress, with this current round of international tough talk and ill-considered sabre-rattling he’s doing, will he once more find his hand has been forced to blood our swords? Without the imprimatur of the legislative branch, or to the direct contrary of its intentions?

If the president strikes Syria without approval now, with no clear military objective or outstanding national security interest, a great hue and cry will be raised about its constitutionality. And all for nothing to begin with.

This is the danger of putting inexperienced, unserious men in positions of ultimate power and why people should consider the power of their own words and voice–in the form of their franchise–when the time comes to continue the president’s legacy of anti-leadership.

British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher Dies (VIDEO)

She was known as The Iron Lady–a staunch U.S. ally, Cold Warrior, and the first (and so far only) female Prime Minister of Great Britain.

Baroness Margaret Thatcher, a conservative icon who transformed British politics forever has passed away at age 87.

It is difficult to quantify the importance of this woman to the latter part of the 20th Century, but for those who may not have paid much attention to politics across the pond, or who came of age after her hugely eventful years in office at London’s Number 10 Downing Street, watch this video and learn about a singularly remarkable woman and a powerful voice for conservatism.

Margaret Thatcher (1925-2013)

MSNBC’s Creepy Confession: Your Kids Belong to the Government (VIDEO)

So much has united Americans in our nation’s history that sometimes it’s difficult to square the circle as to why we’re so politically divided. It’s tempting to think in a patriotic, conciliatory moment: “Could we really be so far apart when it comes down to it?”

Then you see something like this.

In a moment of frightening candor, MSNBC revealed the bizarre and ugly truth behind modern Leftism in America: that the individual exists to serve the needs of the state–pure and simple.

Need proof? Listen to contributor Melissa Harris-Perry as she ostensibly seeks to make a point about public education funding before hanging a hard left into Liberal Wackoville, explaining that children–your children–don’t so much belong to your family as they do “the collective”.

Behold, the terrifying true vision of the Left: Big Brother as Mother and Father.

U.S. Delays ICBM Test: A Mixed Message to North Korea?

The decision just made by the Obama administration to delay a long-scheduled test of a U.S. Minuteman III-class intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) out of concern that it might further escalate tensions on the Korean peninsula is wrongheaded but unsurprising.

The cornerstone of the president’s foreign policy–from removing promised missile interceptors from ally Poland to bizarrely and improperly bowing to foreign heads of state and government–has always been the dovish gesture. This is new in the American experience.

Typically, American presidents from both the political right and left have entered the Oval Office with a clear set of priorities, doctrines, and objectives–not a vague hopefulness and belief that a simple display of demurring gestures would bring about a sea change in the behaviors of declared enemies.

Results…just not positive ones

In fairness, this belief on the part of the president is partly correct: an observable sea change has taken place. In Moscow, Beijing, Tehran, Damascus, and Pyongyang, antagonistic world leaders have ratcheted up their rhetoric and belligerence in the vacuum of American leadership.

The phrase “leading from behind” is, of course, somewhat a contradiction in terms. Or at the least, a little slick-sounding and shallow. Nevertheless, it was used by administration officials in describing previous foreign policy endeavors that have managed to get the president’s attention. Perhaps a more apt and equally oxymoronic description of the president’s foreign policy might be “advancing in retreat”.

Taken by itself and viewed by the uninitiated, the president’s decision to show deference to the warlike Kim Jong-Un with the cancellation of the Minuteman missile test at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California might seem, prima facie, logical. After all, past wars have indeed begun after certain actions were misinterpreted as overt acts of hostility. The president’s decision could be easily confused with pragmatism and prudence.

However, the missile test cancellation is most certainly not happening by itself–it is, instead, part of a larger pattern of confusion in Washington with regard to Korea policy.

A muddled response to North Korean belligerence

Without question, the ad-hoc decision to dispatch two, nuclear weapons-capable, U.S. B-2 stealth bombers all the way from Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri to within striking distance of the Stalinist regime in Pyongyang is a far more overt and provocative act than the carrying-out of a long-scheduled ballistic missile test thousands of miles across the Pacific Ocean.

And the timing cannot be ignored. The B-2 flights came before the cancellation of the test at Vandenberg. To a young, untested, megalomaniacal, 30-year-old boy dictator, the cancellation of the Minuteman test could easily appear as a backing down; a blinking by the Superpower in the proverbial game of chicken.

As we have witnessed with each passing year of the president’s failed foreign policy, (to the degree it can be considered a ‘policy’ at all), Washington’s weakness inspires foreign aggression. While there is, to be certain, a danger in taking actions that could be misconstrued as overt acts of war, there is also considerable danger in taking actions that might convey fear or weakness to a hotheaded communist gangster intent on building his own perverse, brutal legacy.

What kind of Kim does he intend on becoming?

This Kim, unlike his father who was decidedly bad enough, may well seek to emulate the deadly history and path of his grandfather, Kim Il-Sung, the founder of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (the unintentionally ironic name of this starving hermit state.)

The first of the murderous Kim dynasty launched a war of military aggression that claimed the lives of roughly 40,000 American soldiers and an untold number of Koreans, (communist and free alike), as well as Chinese.

Despite its ravages, the Korean War has long been called, “The Forgotten War” owing to its timing; wedged between the absolutely devastating Second World War and the culturally tumultuous Vietnam conflict. But to “forget” the Korean War, one must first know it happened in the first place and, more or less, understand the history and genesis of the rogue North Korean state…does President Obama? One wonders.

Does either leader understand the ramifications of their policies?

The president served but one unremarkable term in the U.S. Senate before his election to the presidency, and before that, an even more unremarkable stint in the Illinois State Senate. Despite the media’s opinion page love affair with the president, (maybe because of it), five long years into his presidency, there’s scant evidence of any intellectual curiosity on his part for matters historical, military, or diplomatic–short of some very visible failures.

At this juncture in history, we have a precarious and inherently frightening situation: two inexperienced world leaders, each existing within a carefully constructed cult of personality. Each man is, if recent history is any guide, likely far more concerned with domestic political concerns than history books, military theory, or the sort of boring statecraft stuff that has preserved an uneasy truce, (note: not peace; the Korean War was ended by an armistice, not a surrender or treaty), on the peninsula for 60 years.

A satellite view of North Korea after sundown reveals a benighted, impoverished state, shrouded in literal darkness. The only visible bastion of electric light is found in Pyongyang, the incongruously lively capital. 

A satellite view of the United States, on the other hand, reveals an abundance of activity and illuminating lights everywhere–including those on at the White House. Sadly, the question we must ask ourselves is: while our lights are indeed on–is anybody home?


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