The Virtue Of Steel And Silence

Fareed chastises Obama for reckless rhetoric on Syria:

The reality is, the U.S. has now put its credibility on the line. It will find it extremely difficult to keep its actions limited in a volatile situation. And were it to succeed in ousting Assad, it would President Obama Departs The White Housebe implicated in the next phase of this war, which would almost certainly lead to chaos and the slaughter or ethnic cleansing of the Alawite sect (to which Assad belongs) and perhaps of other minorities, as happened in Iraq.

Obama has said repeatedly that the President he most admires for his foreign policy is the elder George Bush. Bush’s signature achievement was to manage the end of the Cold War peacefully and without major incident. But he was sharply criticized at the time for refusing to speak out in support of the ongoing liberation of Eastern Europe as the Iron Curtain cracked and crumbled. He later explained that he was always conscious that with hundreds of thousands of Soviet troops still in Eastern Europe, there could have been reversals, crackdowns, even full-scale conflict. He didn’t want to signal American commitments that he couldn’t fulfill. Better, he thought, to have people think he was dispassionate or even cold-blooded. The first President Bush had his flaws, but he did understand that in foreign policy, words have ­consequences.

For a long time I thought Obama had the kind of steel necessary to be another GHWB. That requires preternatural coolness in the face of evil. That impression has, alas, collapsed with the Syria folly. In the end, his liberal internationalism got the better of him – and by appointing figures like Kerry and Power, he set himself up for just such a fiasco. Yes, I’m saying that an American president in the 21st Century has to accept that gassed children do not necessitate a military response. This is a fallen, awful, horrible world. But you cannot change what you can until you have accepted your limits. And ending the horror in Syria is far, far beyond them, while so many things we can actually accomplish remain undone.