The Card Obama Didn’t Play

Fisher was impressed with Obama’s honesty about Syria not posing a real threat to the US:

There are few more reliable ways to sell Americans on military action than to tell them that they’re in danger. That’s not a dig on Americans; people of all nationalities are naturally self-interested. Perhaps that was a lesson Obama learned in the Iraq War cheneymandelnganafpgetty.jpgdebacle, when the Bush administration’s over-sell of Iraq’s alleged threat made the public easier to convince but also badly distorted the debate in ways that still impact U.S. credibility. It’s still much easier to argue that the United States has to fight the enemy abroad so it doesn’t have to defend against them at home. And, almost 12 years to the day after September 11, 2001, it would have been awfully convenient for Obama to tell Americans that strikes are necessary to prevent terrorism.

But Obama didn’t say any of that, even though the political consequences of threat-inflation have proven low in American politics and the tactic often seems to work. Obama himself has not been afraid to refer to direct threats to national security when defending, for example, drone strikes and NSA surveillance. But in making the case for Syria, not only did he mostly demur from following that time-worn path, he actually — amazingly — went out of his way to argue that Syria is not an immediate national security threat to the United States or even Israel.

And so the Bush-Cheney syndrome evaporates a little bit more. Meep meep.

(Photo: war criminal Dick Cheney, by Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty.)