It’s obvious President Obama’s nether parts are being squeezed. The mystery is “by whom”? That’s somewhat different from the usual cui bono calculus, even though they’re related.
This has been a front-and-center puzzle for some time: what gives with Obama and Syria? It suddenly became even murkier when
the U.S. Senate Democrats became involved, ramming through a resolution to be discussed and voted on by the whole Senate next week.
Their resurrection came with no preamble. This President has operated on his ownsome, via invocation of “directives” for a long time (not surprising given his history as an anti-constitutionalist). Probably the most disturbing consequence of these many dikta was his ruination of Libya without so much as a Congressional by-your-leave. Thus this legislative irruption into the narrative is passing strange.
But if you can get your mind around that, ponder the newest and maybe most bizarre of his many locutions: the repudiation of his famous red line. In Sweden the other day, speaking at a presser with their prime minister, Obama abruptly passed the ball to the whole world. He wasn’t the author of the red line anymore, nosiree, he never said it. Nope, the world invented that term and now he had to take up the burden [scroll down at that link for the video].
So the script changed? Suddenly he is saying he never uttered any “red line” words? Does he think we’re stupid? Obviously. But who are we supposed to believe: him or our lying eyes?
Here’s the thing: of course he said “red line”, loud and clear. However when he did so, he used a strange idiom unsuited to the seriousness of the situation. Even back then it was obvious something else going on. Watch him here and see if you spot what I’ve come to think of as Obama’s own peculiar rhetorical twitch:
As I did then Wretchard also noticed it. Back in April he wrote [my emphasis in the snip]:
Chemical weapons — the ‘red line’ which President Obama said he would so resolutely oppose — have emerged in Syria.
The probable truth is that Obama was never prepared to take any large scale action against Syria for any reason any more than he is prepared to stop the Iranian nuclear bomb. Damascus has now called his bluff so the challenge is to find some way to run while seeming to keep the field.
Foreign Policy has found the administration’s probable exit route. It notes that while Obama appeared to draw a “red line” in reality he did not. Like any lawyer he inserted a qualifier into his ultimatum that really renders it a penultimatum or a pen-penultimatum or a pen^i-penultimatum where i is an index > 1 but less than infinity. The exit word is “a whole bunch”. Assad has to violate the warning a “whole bunch” of times, which can be 1, 10, 100, 1000 — it’s all up to the President.
This linguistic tic of Obama’s often gives his game away, though it can be difficult to know precisely in which direction he’s planning to weasel. I don’t have any other examples at hand but I’ve seen this tic before and it usually doesn’t end well for the average American. I’m hoping some enterprising linguist has been collecting them and can shed some light on this strange “tell”.
Obama can attempt to walk this back all he wants, and he can try to pass the ball to “the world” but it’s his baby. He is the father of yet another dumb idea and now he has to figure out how to emerge from the thicket without killing any more Americans while still satisfying his Saudi ‘friends’.
Just now, as I wrote this, Vlad Tepes sent this video of Donald Rumsfeld being taken aback in mid-sentence when he hears, obviously for the first time, about the red line walk-back. The double-take is not to be missed, but his notions about our war policies are hollowed through by now:
Regarding Rumsfeld’s notion that Americans are willing to “follow” this president into the killing fields of Syria? I don’t think so. Rumsfeld mentions the 100,000 killed in Syria as a reason for our intervention. But how about the more than 100,000 Kurds gassed by Saddam Hussein in the Kurdish genocide between 1986 and 1989? The UK and others officially condemned that atrocity, but America never did. In fact, there is evidence the CIA was helping Saddam in aid of bringing down our old enemy, Iran. But those major genocidal gas attacks on the Kurds followed almost immediately on the heels of the cessation of the Iraq-Iran war. As for the name and carefully carried-out “Al-Anfal” campaign/genocide? One translation is “spoils”. Whole villages were wiped out… to be then occupied by whom?
Meanwhile the clouds are gathering and it is scary to contemplate the fact that our gormless Commander-in-Chief, who has shown such studied ignorance and sometimes contempt of things soldierly is suddenly referring to “my military”, a reference which set Twitter ablaze recently — not because his use of the first-personal singular in connection with the military is wrong; he is the C-in C. But it’s simply out of character for Obama. He’s a supposedly educated man who infamously mispronounced the term for our military’s medical corps, calling it a “corpse”. He’s not stupid; I think it was a studied ‘mistake’ but then I will admit to a certain prejudice where this man’s motivations are concerned. He was willing to look ignorant for the sake of distancing himself from things military.
It is crucial to keep in mind the actual geography involved in this unholy mess. Those geopolitical facts are the drivers here — i.e., not only who has the oil and gas, but who wants it and through which countries must it pass before being utilized. Could this turn out to be a real “blood for oil” exchange? If so, it will be Americans’ blood for Arabs’ oil and gas to be piped through to…
Oops, now Russia’s deep interest in keeping Assad in the driver’s seat becomes apparent: that nicely chokes any gas getting to the EU and avoids driving down the prices for Gazprom. For the opposite reason, Qatar’s expenditure of three billions to bring down Assad, and the Saudis efforts to find a puppet, quick, to install after Assad:
Now the United States is getting directly involved in the conflict. If the U.S. is successful in getting rid of the Assad regime, it will be good for either the Saudis or Qatar (and possibly for both), and it will be really bad for Russia. This is a strategic geopolitical conflict about natural resources, religion and money, and it really has nothing to do with chemical weapons at all.
Again, the Economic Collapse blog has fisked this to a fare-thee-well. Since it fits in with my own inclinations, here is part of his thinking about a “full-blown war” (that’s hard to type, much less think about):
If a full-blown war erupts between the United States and Syria, it will not be good for the United States, it will not be good for Israel, it will not be good for Syria, it will not be good for Iran and it will not be good for Hezbollah. The party that stands to benefit the most is Saudi Arabia, and they won’t even be doing any of the fighting.
This is a very clever version of “Let’s You and Him Fight” and it could have generations-long implications for our reputation and integrity, not to mention our dead soldiers and their families.
They have been pouring billions of dollars into the conflict in Syria, but so far they have not been successful in their attempts to overthrow the Assad regime. Now the Saudis are trying to play their trump card — the U.S. military. If the Saudis are successful, they will get to pit the two greatest long-term strategic enemies of Sunni Islam against each other — the U.S. and Israel on one side and Shia Islam on the other. In such a scenario, the more damage that both sides do to each other the happier the Sunnis will be.
There would be other winners from a U.S. war with Syria as well. For example, it is well-known that Qatar wants to run a natural gas pipeline out of the Persian Gulf, through Syria and into Europe. That is why Qatar has also been pouring billions of dollars into the civil war in Syria.
So if it is really Saudi Arabia and Qatar that want to overthrow the Assad regime, why does the United States have to do the fighting?
Someone should ask Barack Obama why it is necessary for the U.S. military to do the dirty work of his Sunni Muslim friends.
Obama is promising that the upcoming attack will only be a “limited military strike” and that we will not be getting into a full-blown war with Syria.
The only way that will work is if Syria, Hezbollah and Iran all sit on their hands and do nothing to respond to the upcoming U.S. attack.
He says it’s “about” the last thing we need right now. I’d say there’s no “about” about it. It is absolutely the very last piece of chaotic misadventure we need, somewhere right behind a recurrence of the 1918 national outbreak of the Spanish Flu .
Obama’s lack of a coherent foreign policy, his wrong-headed, poverty-creating statist domestic policy, and his deliberate inflaming of racial grievances have done our country much harm. But this move against Syria is an adventure too far; it could sink us. But perhaps he truly wants to bring Imperialist AmeriKKKa to its knees? Otherwise these murderous ideas make no sense.
Or…does the man think he’s the reincarnation of FDR and a great big war is just the thing to jumpstart our economy? Even though he’s
mutilated severely cut our ability to respond militarily? Perhaps he thinks he’s found a use for all those men he’s made redundant through heavy applications of failed economic policies?
Russia must be drooling at the prospect of ‘protecting’ Syria, joining forces with Iran…
The Daily Mail claims the Pentagon already knew last year that it would take 75,000 ground troops to “secure” Syria’s WMD factories, and that a great deal of due diligence investigation (i. e., money spent) was done to get those numbers in place:
The War Powers Resolution, which passed the Senate Foreign Relations Committee late Wednesday on a bipartisan 10-7 vote, includes text noting that it ‘does not authorize the use of the United States Armed Forces on the ground in Syria for the purpose of combat operations.’
If President Obama were to deploy ground forces in Syria, the final words of that phrase — ‘for the purpose of combat operations’ — could become a loophole large enough to drive a Humvee through.
And that Humvee would roll right over a killer IED, planted just for our troops. Walter Reed Hospital doesn’t have much more room for the mangled boys who would soon overflow the wards.
Charles Krauthammer agrees with me, in this transcript of a video from yesterday:
I don’t think it is a sudden embrace of the separation of powers or a renewed interest in constitutional action in which he brings in the Congress. On domestic issues, he hasn’t shown any interest in that, and all of a sudden he develops religion on the eve of the supposed strike. The reason is, he was alone and naked in the world. He didn’t have Russia, he didn’t have the U.N., didn’t have the Security Council, he didn’t have the Arabs who, yes, very much oppose but won’t lift a finger and didn’t even approve in the resolution of the Arab League support for unilateral or any kind of action against them, military action against Syria, and he lost our closest ally in Britain. He had nobody. Here are Obama and the Democrats who mocked the Bush administration for unilateral intervention In Iraq where we had a coalition of almost 50 countries and he can’t get one and a half.
So he had to have the Congress, that’s the reason he did that switch in the end. He knew how alone he was and how he needed cover. This is a cynical exercise in political cover, and the language he offered, McCain, that everybody approved, is simply language, it will have no effect on policy. And I think it’s a sop that is not worth the words or the ink it is written with.