Say No

 Last night, I caught a bit of Hugh Hewitt.  His line is that we need to start convincing Congress to support some sort of action in Syria.  Not so much to “support the President”, but to support some sort of decisive action against Syria. 

Hugh’s a smart guy, and a great friend of mine and of the NARN broadcast.

But he’s wrong on this one.  So are all the Republicans who are getting rolled into supporting this idea – Boehner, Cantor, McCain. 

Hugh’s point is that we can’t stand by and watch children getting murdered, especially the ghastly murders we saw on YouTube last month.   There’s scarcely a person among us, especially parents, who didn’t see that video and want to load up the B52s and go all Jack Bauer on the perps.

Whoever they were.

The Motives: We’re assured it was Assad – by the same intelligence services that have been covering the President’s butt for the last year in re Benghai, and that have a worse record than the Macalester football team.  Others aren’t so sure it was Assad

I’m sure not.  Think about it.  Assad was slowly but surely winning his war against the rebels; by most accounts, the rebels’ tide peaked last year, and has been ebbing.  Armed by his Russian and Iranian benefactors, supported by the same parts of Syrian society that support the Mullahs’ in Iran – the not-so-photogenic rural crowd that doesn’t speak English as a second language and doesn’t make it onto NPR stories about life in Syria – Assad was slowly winning the war, block by bloody block.  It wasn’t pretty – but “bloody and ugly” can serve a dictator just as well as fast and surgical. 

There’s plenty of evidence that chemical weapons have been used many times in the Syrian Civil War, by both sides, in small, “surgical” attacks, away from the public eye. 

So with the war swinging his direction, what was, exactly, Assad’s motivation to launch a large, carpet-bombing raid with Sarin in Ain Tarma, Zamalka and Jobar – densely-populated rebel-controlled suburbs of Damascus?

Where all of the world’s media are,  ensuring the attack would receive (by police-state standards) saturation coverage?

Eggs For the Omelet:  Now, the Assad family has all kinds of blood on  its hands.  There’ve been countless massacres under the Assad family’s control of Syria.  One might surmise that all of them have been done at such a time and place and magnitude as to avoid drawing untoward Western scrutiny, since until the civil war started you probably had little to no idea of Syria’s human rights record.  Right?

And then, suddenly, 1,400 dead people, 400 of them children, killed right where all the cameras area. 

Assad isn’t above doing it – but what would be the point of bringing down the opprobium of the entire world just as the war is starting to swing his way?

But the extreme elements of the “rebels?”   Killing their own people has been a treasured part of the extremist playbook for centuries.  The French, Russian and Chinese revolutions are clogged with tales of extremists killing their own people, or allowing them to be killed, for propaganda purposes.  It serves several purposes; it’s grade A grist for the propaganda mill, and if you do it right,  you get rid of some of the “allies” that you’ll need to dispense with to solidify your own faction’s control (see Marat, the Mensheviks, Ernst Röhm).  All of them – especially the children – are eggs that regrettably must be broken to make the omelet. 

I think the case against the “rebels” makes a lot more sense than the one against Assad. 

Politics:Leaving aside the actual incident?  Obama is playing the GOP for fools.  And they’re obliging.

If it succeeds, of course, Obama – aided by his compliant Praetorian Guard in the media – will engineer a Caesarian triumph.  The NYTimes will proclaim that it’s Obama’s victory.    That’d happen whether he gets Congressional approval or, for that matter, if he’d disregarded Congress and charged in with guns blazing. 

By seeking Congressional approval – and going through the charade of being seen to “want” GOP buy-in – Obama is setting up the GOP up to take the blame when the action turns into a fiasco.  As it pretty likelly will – more below.   

This, as Obamacare spirals into full debacle mode, as the IRS and Benghazi and NSA and Fast and Furious scandals are begging for attention, and as the economic “recovery” starts to look more and more like a high-functioning coma. 

The Fiasco Within:  George Patton summed up the goal of war pretty well.  You kill the enemy as fast and as violently and as constantly as you can, so that the war ends as soon as possible, with victory.   You know your objective, and you kill whatever it takes to achieve it, because it’s in acheiving the objective that the war ends with as many of your people as possible alive.

And I picture Patton – or really any soldier worthy of the uniform – looking at Obama’s puling, PR-focus-grouped “plan”, replete with “sending messages” and “degrading capabilities” and “punishing the regime”, and puking his guts out with revulsion. 

You do not risk American lives to “send messages”.

You do not parlay American blood and treasure to rap a gangster thug across the knuckles and mess with his networks. 

You do either, or both, to win the war, provided that the war was worth fighting in the first place; that American security and interests were genuinely, tangibly threatened, in a war that makes and keeps this country safer. 

So why are we flirting with an action that could open a huge regional war – and blow up what’s left of our economy to boot?  What’s the objective that’s worth so much American blood and treasure?

Even our military has a hard time explaining.  And that’s a huge problem.

On the other hand, some of our greatest, most rational minds on the subject of military action – Victor Davis Hanson among ’em – can spell out the case against intervention in so many ways you’re tempted to say “enough with the overkill”. 

Wag The Boehner: This action is the tail wagging the dog.  I strongly suspect that it’s an epic deception – and whether it is or isn’t, it’s being manipulated by the Administration for political purposes, to give a war-weary public something else to hold against Republicans in 2014, just in time to give Obama control of the House. 

And John Boehner and Eric Cantor are aiding and abetting it. 

Are they doing it for all the right reasons – to avenge the dead children.  Who doesn’t want to keep the children safe?  Everyone!

Sure.  And so they’ll go down in history – having been brutally manipulated into a colossal mistake, for all the right reasons.

25 thoughts on “Say No

  1. Charlie Rangel (D-NY) has many flaws, but one great idea: bring back the draft, no exceptions, no deferments. Senator Klobuchar’s daughter Abigail just turned 18. So whaddya think, Senator? Risk your baby to stop rag-heads from killing other rag-heads? Or sit this one out?

  2. I oppose the draft, since it is by nature selective – it’s even in the name, “Selective Service”. Selection means there’s a system, and where there’s a system, there’s something to be gamed, no matter how much tough talk there might be on cutting exceptions and deferments. You can put in all the rules to “selective” service you want, and Abigail Klobuchar will still while away the war years at Harvard.

    I once made a libertarian case for Swiss, Finnish or Israeli-style National Service – the real thing, where everyone serves full-time for a period, and stays in the reserves until they’re 50. The idea was this: Defending the country’s borders – and the liberties we enjoy (work with me, here) – is one of the very few legitimate jobs of government. Our government is of, by and for the people. Since we’re the people, and the government is us, then one of our jobs is to defend our borders and liberties.

    It’s a compromise, of course. But its main benefit is that it makes the military VERY conservative. You don’t see the nations that use that system – Israel, Finland, Switzerland, to some extent Singapore, and until recently Norway – invading other counties willy nilly, do you?

  3. I oppose universal service because it would mean that 18-year-olds would end up being dragooned into make-work gubmint jobs touting Obamacare or somesuch. In our world, it wouldn’t be about service to the nation; it would be about service to the leviathan State.

  4. I trust Hewitt on the effects of laws on consumers and businesses, but little else.
    US interests are not at stake in Syria. We are not allied with the Assad regime or the rebels. The UN has robust chemical weapons protocols, let the UN decide what it wants to do (if anything) about Assad.

  5. The biggest question is – who do we bomb? What if Assad indeed did not use WMD? People voting FOR are the same people who are dead set against death penalty on the same grounds. Also, by bombing Assad, we help rebels, who are mostly aligned with AQ from available reports. We destabilize the region to the breaking point. And last but not least, Putin just said he would support a strike on Assad if it as clear he used WMD. Based on his support for the Assad regime, he would never say that unless he knew the truth. Damn the facts and reprocussions, all glory to Ceasar!

  6. It’ll be fascinating to watch the various factions within Congress and the GOP debate this issue. The establishment (old guard) represented by Speaker Boehner, the neo-conservatives > Senator McCain, the libertarians > Senator Paul and then the assorted tea party types.

    I wouldn’t be surprised to see a ‘coalition of the willing” being formed between the tea party and liberal Democrats to keep this resolution from passing.

  7. Obama opened his mouth when he should have kept it shut.
    He probably thought that it was the job of the US, rather than the UN, to judge when a country had violated the Chemical Weapons Convention. Hell, who am I kidding? Obama probably didn’t even that there was a thing called the Chemical Weapons Convention.

  8. I remain confused about much of this issue, but maintain my belief that we do not need to spend any additional money, lose American lives, or generate any unnecessary ill will in other countries. This slow build-up to action will only give “fair” warning to those we want to bomb, allowing them to move out valuable assests, or move their enemies into the targeted area.

    Like with the civilian use of force, military use of force loses a great deal of credibility and sense of urgency when it can be kicked around for days, weeks, or months.

    I know the two are different, but I believe that they share some moral common ground. It seems as though President Obama is applying some of the same aspects of “stand your ground” that he bemoans, but on a much bigger scale.

    That is, since his criteria exists, he feels justified to use deadly force, even if he would not be harmed if he didn’t exercise it. Sounds like he no longer supports the “duty to retreat” he feels we should. Mr. Zimmerman should feel vindicated.

    Think Part II of this adventure will be the importation of thousands of Obama-grateful “political refugees”?

  9. There seems here to be a nice corollary between gun control advocates and WMD control advocates; we worry a ton that someone has either, instead of contemplating whether the owner is halfway sane/moral and what can be done to stop them if they’re not. Anyone in crisis management will tell you that the worst thing you can do when confronted by a rogue is to concentrate on his weapons, and of course that’s exactly what Obama does.

    Like I’ve said before, Carter looks downright competent in comparison, and Clinton honest. Ugh.

  10. Several thoughts:

    1) President Obama is correct in that he does “need” any sort of Congressional authorization to attack Syria. Congress’ only real recourse if it doesn’t like a military action is to either refuse to fund it and/or to impeach and remove the President, neither of which is going to happen with a Democrat-controlled Senate.

    2) The President has also demonstrated a willingness to unilaterally change everything from laws governing immigration to unemployment to health care whenever it suits his own political purposes.

    3) If he’s going to Congress, it’s not for their advice or their consent; it’s to establish an alibi when this latest foreign policy blunder goes south.

    4) IMO Congress should vote “no” on authorizing any action in Syria. If the President disagrees, he can go it alone as he has in the past.

  11. All due respect to Mitch, but I don’t think even a firm ‘No’ from Congress is enough to get the President to stand down on Syria. He has a clear pattern of do whatever he sees fit and getting the media and national Democrats to spin it for him.

    I think a better option is approval a response to the use of chemical weapons, while pushing the president away from a military response in favor of something a little more clever like Stuxnet or removing Syria from the United Nations.

  12. I disagree. Obama doesn’t have the guts to bomb if Congress says no, and in particular because a lot of Democrats will be voting against this despite his entreaties. He doesn’t work that way. If he were certain this was the right thing to do he’d have done it already. The problem is that we’re bombing the fascist rulers of Syria to assist al Qaeda’s revolution. There’s no “good guys” over there of any consequence, making intervention kind of like choosing sides in the Iran-Iraq War — you want them both to lose.

    Actually, Boehner is probably playing this about as well as he can. He’s supporting the President, but he’s saying to his caucus that they’re free to vote their conscience. If Obama loses this “no confidence” vote it will be a bipartisan defeat, not something the republicans are doing to him and that’s probably the right way to go politically and I’d actually say it’s the right thing for Boehner to do morally.

    Think about it: by supporting Obama here, Obama can’t claim that the GOP is only there saying no to everything he does. So win or lose, the Democrats’ rhetoric is weakened.

    And morally, it’s very difficult for Boehner to claim that US interests are directly threatened so making this a party-loyalty vote is problematic. After the debacle of WMD intelligence before it’s hard to rally behind the CIA’s claims here. Plus the fact that Obama has been doing massive intervention in the Middle East with very little to show for it other than more turmoil. As least when Bush did his interventions the lines in the Mideast were clearer and the issues more understandable. Obama seems to have no strategy for the Mideast other than tossing bombs at the latest hotspot.

    I don’t like the idea of this kind of operation, just as I didn’t like the idea of the Libya fiasco (now devolving into another civil war, but we won’t go there). It’s not just that it’s Obama and his clear lack of plan or vision for how we should be acting in the region, but I see don’t see a clear, distinct US interest in a limited attack like Obama’s proposing. Now if he wants to fund rebels who aren’t radical fundamentalists eager to chop off Western heads as soon as Assad is strung up from the nearest lamppost I’ll support that, but tossing a few cruise missiles at aspirin factories didn’t work well before and I don’t see it working well now.

  13. It seems to me that the people who are supporting it are either (a) Republicans who think that the President shouldn’t have drawn another line in the sand and that the only way to salvage what’s left of our country’s credibility is to back his play or (b) Democrats who think that the President shouldn’t have drawn another line in the sand and that the only way to salvage what’s left of his administration’s credibility is to back his play.

    I don’t think that anyone honestly thinks that there is any way that this going to be effective at improving the situation in Syria or serve as a deterrent from other countries who might do the same thing.

  14. Maybe Obama got a competent replacement for Rahm. Maybe going to Congress first is a political trap.

    Obama seeks Congressional approval to punish a dictator who uses WMD to kill children. Republicans vote no. Democrats campaign in 2014 on “Republicans vote to kill children but Obama stood up to them and the NRA and the Koch Brothers to do the right thing.”

    I know, they’re going to say that anyway; but maybe that’s why he’s doing this?

  15. Since President Obama was all ready to go, but was “forced” to go to congress because they were whining about it, the spoils of victory are President Obama’s: “Sure, congress approved it, but we all know I was going to do it anyway.”

    At best congress might get faint praise for the operation’s success, if any praise at all. Just as likely, they may be condemned anyway for making President Obama wait for them.

    But if it goes bad …

    Regardless of the outcome, I don’t see how President Obama can lose if he gets the go ahead from congress.

    I think Mr. Doaks is right.

  16. It was political genius the way Obama maneuvered Congress into the same box that he stands in.The point of a representative democracy is to have individuals who will come to Washington, listen to the facts, and vote based on the best evidence available. It is not to stand, face home, wet your finger, and feel which direction the wind is blowing. My kingdom, as small as it is, for some wise and honest representation, not a feckless Congress whose only worry is re-election.

  17. If congress doesn’t worry about re-election, head for the hills.
    Bush got in-depth, bipartisan support before launching the Iraq War. Fat lot of good it did him.
    Both the current and past Secretary of State voted to go to war against Saddam Hussein in 2002-2003. Odd that you never hear about that.

  18. Andrew Klavan on The Current Crisis:

    The guy’s a lousy president. His foreign policy has been a disaster, especially in the Middle East. He surrendered the war in Iraq after we’d won it; he doubled down on a war in Afghanistan we could never win; he abandoned the rebels he should’ve supported in Iran and supported the rebels he should’ve ignored in Egypt; his Libyan lead-from-behind adventure has left that country in a shambles.
    I know people who think that Obama is some secret commie or secret member of the Muslim Brotherhood. He isn’t. He’s a fool, promoted way, way, above his competency. Most editors and presidents of HLR went on to Big Law or the Federal bench. Obama ran for a safe legislative seat in a corrupt state. Even he knew he couldn’t run with the big dogs. Read the famous Obama ‘anti-war’ speech of 2002. He didn’t know, or care, if Saddam has WMD’s. All he cared about is that the war is being pushed by Jews. ‘What I am opposed to is the cynical attempt by Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz and other armchair, weekend warriors in this administration to shove their own ideological agendas down our throats . . .’ I don’t think he knew that Doug Feith was a Jew — or maybe he thought his audience wouldn’t and it would be diluting his message.
    Anyone who thinks that Obama is a serious leader should read his 2002 anti-war in the context of the war resolution he wants congress to give him today:
    “What I am opposed to is the attempt by political hacks like Karl Rove to distract us from a rise in the uninsured, a rise in the poverty rate, a drop in the median income, to distract us from corporate scandals and a stock market that has just gone through the worst month since the Great Depression.
    That’s what I’m opposed to. A dumb war. A rash war. A war based not on reason but on passion, not on principle but on politics.”

  19. Actually there has been a number of articles about both Clinton’s and Kerry’s “Iraq” votes. The articles then go on to detail the current positions of Rubio and Paul and whether their “Syria” votes will play a role in the GOP 2016 nomination process. Same story, different war.

  20. You would think that some highly paid journalist from an elite school might note that the last time Kerry called for attacking a ME country based on questionable intelligence,Kerry came to believe it was a deadly mistake.
    ‘Cuz, you know, journalists are supposed to do things like that.

  21. Rand Paul’s amendment It is the sense of the Senate that the President does not have the power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation. was voted down today 14-4. Does it sound similar? Well it should. This is verbatim from 0bumbler’s 2008 interview with Boston Globe: The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.

    via Powerline.

  22. It is a sad, sad state of affairs when you tend to trust Putin more than you do anyone in the entire 0bumbler White House Administration.

  23. Putin is serious guy. Obama is not a serious guy. Hagel is not a serious guy, either. Panetta once had a rep as a serious guy. Not sure about this, anymore. He’s kept his trap shut since he left the Obama administration.

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