This was a president elected to get us out of conflict in the Middle East, not to enmesh us even further in a cycle of sectarian conflict and metastasizing warfare. This was a president who said he didn’t oppose all wars, just dumb ones. Is there a conceivably dumber war to intervene in than Syria’s current civil one? I can’t see one.
You can forgive a president once – even though his misguided, counter-productive and destabilizing war in Libya was almost as nuts as this latest foray. But by deciding to arm the Sunni radicals fighting the Shiites in Syria and Lebanon, the president has caved to the usual establishment subjects who still want to run or control the entire world. I don’t buy the small arms qualifier. You know that’s the foot in the door to dragging the United States into the middle of a civil war we do not understand and cannot control. If it has any effect, it will be to draw out the conflict still longer and kill more people. More staggeringly, he is planning to put arms into the hands of forces that are increasingly indistinguishable from hardcore Jihadists and al Qaeda – another brutal betrayal of this country’s interests, and his core campaign promise not to start dumb wars. Yep: he is intending to provide arms to elements close to al Qaeda. This isn’t just unwise; it’s close to insane.
What to do when a president just reverses course like this? It comes after verification that the Syrian regime has used chemical weapons against civilians. This is, apparently, the “red line”. Indiscriminate shelling that kills tens of thousands wasn’t enough. Of course, I’m not in any way defending the horrifying use of these weapons against civilians – but I am asking what on earth is the American national interest in taking sides militarily? I see precisely none. Do we really want to hand over Syria’s chemical arsenal to al Qaeda? Do we really want to pour fuel on the brushfire in the sectarian bloodbath in the larger Middle East? And can you imagine the anger and bitterness against the US that this will entail regardless? We are not just in danger of arming al Qaeda, we are painting a bulls-eye on every city in this country, for some party in that religious struggle to target.
I understand why the Saudis and Jordanians, Sunni bigots and theocrats, want to leverage us into their own sectarian warfare against the Shiites and Alawites. But why should America take sides in such an ancient sectarian conflict? What interest do we possibly have in who wins a Sunni-Shiite war in Arabia?
I hate to say it but this president looks as if he is worse than weak here. He is being dragged around by events and pressures like a rag doll. And this news that we are entering the war with military supplies is provided by Ben Rhodes, not the president. That’s nothing against Ben, but when a president is effectively declaring war, don’t you think he has a duty to tell the American people why and what he intends to achieve?
But nada. You voted twice for Obama? You’re getting the policies of McCain and the Clintons, the candidates he defeated. I wish I could understand this – but, of course, my worry is that the pincer movement of Rice and Power is already pushing us into a war we do not need, and cannot win.
This is worse than a mistake. It’s a betrayal – delivered casually. Maybe he thinks his supporters will treat this declaration of war just as casually. In which case, he’s in for a big surprise.
(Photo: Syrian rebel fighters belonging to the “Martyrs of Maaret al-Numan” battalion leave their position after a range of shootings on June 13, 2013 in the northwestern town of Maaret al-Numan in front of the army base of Wadi Deif, down in the valley. By Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP/Getty Images)