Ezra passes it along:
Privately, Hill aides joke that everything is going exactly to President Obama’s plan. It’s just that that plan is to stay far, far away from Syria.
This is the (tongue-in-cheek) 12-dimensional chess interpretation of the Obama administration’s Syria strategy. Boxed in by red-line rhetoric and the Sunday show warriors, the Obama administration needed to somehow mobilize the opposition to war in Syria. It did that by “fumbling” the roll-out terribly. …
The Obama administration’s strategy to cool the country on this war without expressly backing away from the president’s red lines has been brilliant, Hill aides say (just look at the polls showing overwhelming opposition!). If they are going to go to war, their efforts to goad Congress into writing a punitively narrow authorization of force that sharply limits any potential for escalation have worked beautifully.
Believing anything else — like this is how the administration is actually leading the United States into conflict — is too unsettling.
Yes, it is. We elected Obama over McCain and yet Obama is now ceding foreign policy to that discredited blowhard. We believed Obama was a realist, and yet we hear the most abstract and unreconstructed poems to liberal interventionism from his secretary of state. I certainly was led to believe – from a ridiculously high-level source – that intervening in Syria was the very last thing the president wanted to do. And yet here we are. He seems genuine.
Is this some brilliant strategic design? Force the House to acknowledge that there is no public support for war against Syria … and move fast and unilaterally first to force the UN to become more aggressive, and even get Putin’s possible assent to future action if more inspections prove Assad’s use of CWs to be deliberate and undeniable?
I wish I could believe it. The sheer weakness of the case for war is so obvious perhaps Obama is waiting for us to make him pull back before it’s too late. The delay could put more pressure on Putin ahead of the G-20. There are many twists and turns possible. But I am afraid I don’t believe it. Occam’s razor is the best bet here. Obama made a foolish pledge to go to war if chemical weapons are used and now his bluff has been called by Assad.
It may soon be called by Tehran too. And what then, Mr president, what then? Do you have the fortitude to stand down and truly transform American foreign policy? Or, when push comes to shove, are you actually weaker than McCain and Clinton – and your legacy will be not doomed wars in Iraq and Afghanistan but doomed wars in Syria and Iran?