“George Kennan Would Have Wept”

Sep 11 2013 @ 12:47pm

Greg Djerejian’s rhetoric gets ahead of him a little in his latest post on Obama’s Syria policy. He’s far, far too caustic about the extremely difficult choices Obama had to confront in the past few months and too breezily dismissive of the breach of the chemical weapons taboo. But he also argues, persuasively to me, that the precipitous decision to announce a strike against Syria was a function of Rice and Power et al recklessly over-playing their hand, without any serious understanding of what the Iraq War had done to US power in the Middle East or the dangers of an open-ended intervention as envisaged in the first proposed resolution for authorization of force in Syria. Money quote:

While the UN Ambassador was busily breezily querying the basic cornerstone underpinnings of the post WWII security architecture (e.g. the role of the UN Security Council, which like it or not, if wholly shunted aside without replacement international infrastructure, could eventually lead to far greater perils than any single CW attack), such myopically fanatical R2P adherents apparently did not engage in the merest bit of navel-gazing amidst the festival of frenzied outrage. Post-Iraq, was ‘high confidence’ good enough to launch a war, rather than confirmation? Why were the fatality counts in Ghouta so wildly different among different intelligence services? And why this “absurdly over-precise number” (CSIS Analyst Anthony Cordesman’s words) tally of 1429 dead? All this speaks to basic credibility, and one could be forgiven for being truly astounded that the Administration did not better realize how much higher the burden of proof needed to be post the Mesopotamian morass.

Agreed. But what matters is that Obama re-grouped and re-thought and the result is about as good as we could have hoped for. I’ll tackle more of the meep-meep question – especially about the decision to go to the Congress – soon.