Obama Caves On Syria


[Re-posted from earlier today]

Well, we don’t yet quite know what’s in the works – but once you start arming one side of a civil war, you become part of that civil war; the other side may target you; and as this sectarian conflict deepens across the region, the US will be seen as a Sunni power fighting Shiites. I cannot think of a worse policy position for this country – to take stand on the sectarian fault-line of the Muslim world and back one side over another. You think the other side won’t notice? You think Americans wouldn’t be targeted for this kind of meddling? Let Putin get bogged down in this hell, if he remains so 19th Century he feels he must. But we should have zero interest in that ancient religious dispute; zero.

And you can say you’re only arming them with anti-tank weapons and the like. Ben Rhodes was very careful not to say too much. But of course he did say far too much. Once you have committed to one side in a civil war, you have committed. The pressure from the neocons and liberal interventionists to expand this war will only increase – because either you fight to win or you shouldn’t fight at all. Yes, it’s the same coalition that gave us the Iraq catastrophe.

My strong view, vented last night as I absorbed this stunning collapse of nerve, is that we shouldn’t fight at all. We are damn lucky to have gotten every GI out of Iraq, and the notion of being sucked back into that region again – and to join sides in a sectarian conflict – is a betrayal of everything this president has said and stood for. It’s a slap in the face for everyone who backed him because he said he wouldn’t be another Bush or McCain or Clinton. If he intervenes in Syria, he will have no credibility left with those of us who have supported his largely sane and prudent foreign policy so far. Libya was bad enough – and look at the consequences. But Syria? And the entire Middle East? Is he out of his mind?

And can you think of a dumber war than this one?

The man who said he would never engage in a dumb war is apparently preparing to join the dumbest war since … well, Iraq. And by the way: who would you rather have in control of chemical weapons – Assad or the al Nusra brigades? Because it will be the al Nusra brigades who would seize the country if Assad falls. And you think those fanatics have the slightest loyalty to us?

One reason I supported Obama so passionately in 2008 and 2012 was because I thought he understood this and had the spine to stand up to drama queens like McCain and armchair generals like William Jefferson Clinton. But it is beginning to appear that this president isn’t actually that strong. We voted for him … and he’s giving us Clinton’s and McCain’s foreign policy. If Cameron and Hollande want to pull another Suez, for Pete’s sake be Eisenhower – not Kennedy.

My cri de coeur is here. Don’t do it, Mr President. And don’t you dare involve us in another war without a full Congressional vote and national debate. That wouldn’t just be a mistake; it would be a betrayal.

(Photo: Saul Loeb/Getty.)