The news stories have spent much ink and headlines pointing out the fiasco around Syria, chemical weapons, and President Obama’s pronouncement of the necessity for a strike against Bashir al-Assad’s military infrastructure in order to send a message that his use of such weapons will not and cannot be tolerated by the United States, the world, and in particular, President Obama and his advisers. We have read and heard about the shrinking credibility President Obama may suffer if he does not strike even if he should have the excuse that Congress would not authorize his request to use force. Many have pointed out that President Obama does not require anything from Congress in order to exercise his option as President to use force for up to ninety days before any Congressional action is required. I have always thought this was somewhat of a joke as a way to curtail the power of a President to engage in military actions as should a President instigate a military intervention and have even a mere thirty days freedom to act as he believes is necessary, a President could easily get American forces so engaged and deeply into a mission that no sane Congress would vote to pull the rug out from under them at that point. The reality that President Obama could have ordered his strikes on Syria and they would have been planned and executed all before the Congress returned from their Labor Day break assuming President Obama was being forthright when he said all he planned to do was strike selected military targets from the air using Tomahawk Missiles and other stand-off air assets fired from over the Mediterranean Sea from B-2 and B-52 heavy bombers. So, what has President Obama gained and lost by invoking Congressional approval and once again choosing dithering over acting?
The gains are easy for one to see but they are not envious gains and are likely going to cause the President serious harm and probably Congressional approval. The grandest gain is the American people have been allowed to give voice to their feelings on the whole matter of Syria and it appears they are almost unanimously against any form of United States military actions for any purpose in the Syrian conflict. Not sure if this is exactly a gain, but we now have a few more gems of complete inane and completely ridiculous comments from Senator McCain who among his brilliant opinions comes his defining the meaning of “Allahu Akbar” for the rest of us members of the ignorant masses which he defined as the same as a Christian exclaiming, “Thank G0d” and not what we had all likely assumed which was, “Allah is the greatest.” Many Americans are finding out whether or not their Congressional representative, be they either Senator or their Representative in the House, are able to understand that when hundreds if not thousands of their constituents call in demanding they vote against a military intervention, that such actions actually means the people do not want them to give the President blessings to go ahead and strike Syria. There may be a future lesson when at the next election for these same representatives who decide not to heed their public comes around and we will see if their constituents have any memory and actually meant what they said. There have already been a number of Senators and Representatives who have been interviewed specifically on why they changed their position from originally supporting the President for a strike on Syria and within a day or two changed their minds. Of the few I have been fortunate enough to hear or watch, and I always love watching politicians backing away from a previous position, it is just so amusing watching them stumble and try to sound contrite and convincing all at the same time, none of them have simply stated the plain truth. I sometimes wonder how difficult it is for a grown person to simply state, “After the barrage of calls my offices have received on this issue demanding my vote on this issue I have listened to the people and will do as they elected me to do and vote their desired position.” There you have it, all you politicians looking for what to say to the cameras in explaining your change, plain, simple, and oddly enough, it is the truth which would be nice to hear for a change. The final and possibly only advantage President Obama has gained by invoking Congress is he will have a way out of backing his poorly chosen red line threat without completely losing face as he can claim it is the will of the American people and after all, he will be able to claim he is nothing if not a man of the people.
The real ramification will have little effect on actions the United States was ever actually going to commit but at least that is now a certainty. If the Israeli leadership ever entertained the idea that President Obama actually intended to prevent the Iranians from gaining nuclear weapons, they have now been completely disabused of that notion. The evidence is now overwhelming and the truth is plain to see, President Obama is completely ineffectual on foreign policy. He is exactly as was warned coming in to the last elections by us here that the main problems on the doorstep of the world and especially the United States were not the seemingly immense problems with the economy or other items concerning the home-front but the affairs of state and the international crisis which were all coming to a boil almost in a tsunami. The world can only be left on autopilot so long before it begins to lose altitude and a crash becomes inevitable if nobody takes hold of the controls and steers it back on course. This has been the case numerous times throughout history, recent history even. Anyone observing the world stage during President Obama’s first term watched as Iraq slowly devolved back into sectarian violence with Sunni-Shia fighting growing almost daily by the end of the first term. Terrorism has been steadily rising and the Iraqi government has become a puppet of the Mullahs of Iran who have completely replaced the United States as the guiding influence. Egypt also has become unstable as President Morsi with the backing of the Muslim Brotherhood attempted to install an Islamic governance structured around Sharia and get the equivalent of what has taken Turkey’s Prime minister Erdogan almost a decade to do there and the Egyptian people revolted. The Egyptian military has subsequently intervened and replaced the Morsi government and now comes the slow decent into civil strife with terrorist bombings, shootings, burning buildings, and worst of all, the complete dissolution of Egypt’s oldest establishment, the Coptic Christians who are helplessly watching their churches and monasteries burned to the ground or converted into Mosques; their homes and businesses looted and destroyed; their women and children kidnapped, forced into marriages, forced to convert, or even murdered; watched as their numbers dwindle away as those who can get out of Egypt flee, and they realize that one of the oldest Christian communities is on the verge of following Egyptian’s once flourishing Jewish community into oblivion and wiped from the pages of history. Turkey is also experiencing violence between Shia and Sunni segments of the population and there have even been some demonstrations against the creep towards Islamist Sharia Law which the people are resisting at long last. Syria has completely melted down and the Christian community is being slowly decimated. There is also growing violence between the Kurdish elements and militias and the Sunni rebel forces. Al-Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood have supplanted the pro-democracy forces of the rebel cause and the fight is now between Sunni and Shia forces with Iran and Hezballah supporting Shia al-Assad and his predominantly Alawite military forces while the al-Nusra Front, al-Qaeda, Muslim Brotherhood, and mujahedeen fighters are flocking into Syria to fight for Sunni preeminence in the Muslim world. Then there has been the financial collapse of much of Europe with Germany and France trying to prevent the complete meltdown of the Euro as an effective and useable currency. These are just the highlights of a world in complete upheaval almost anywhere one looks. We have not mentioned the still completely out of control Horn of Africa, the struggles between Christians and Muslims in Nigeria and Mali, the continuing friction between China and both Japan and the Philippines over claims on solitary islands and free travel within the South China Sea, the drug wars in Mexico, the collapsing scene in Afghanistan and Pakistan where terrorist forces are once again growing in power, civil strife in a number of Asian nations, financial difficulties among many South American countries and a plethora of lesser problems almost anywhere one looks. Add in the growing adversarial relations between the United States and Russia as well as China and it almost seems the Cold War has returned.
And lastly there is the Iranian drive to produce nuclear weapons which recently was uncovered is not only enriching uranium but is also producing plutonium making their drive a dual route pursuit for nuclear weapons doubling at the least their likelihood of attaining nuclear status that much sooner. With the now obvious punting of any possibility of an intervention by the United States concerning Iran, the entire responsibility will likely fall on Israel, just as it did in the early eighties when nobody was willing to prevent Saddam Hussein and the French had even built him a reactor aiding his drive for nuclear weapons. Israel addressed that problem and the world was fortunate that Saddam Hussein’s nuclear program was so easily derailed. Despite what eventually was a grateful United States who years later quietly thanked Israel for preventing a nuclear Iraq, at the time of Israeli action against the Osirak reactor President Reagan joined the rest of the Security Council in condemning the Israeli strike. Preventing an Iranian nuclear weapon will not be as easy as a single sortie on one location but will require days or maybe weeks of sorties covering almost the entirety of Iran in order to cripple the majority of the nuclear sites strewn strategically throughout the vast country. Making matters worse is that Israel has to fly routes which would take her aircraft over such hostile nations as Turkey, Iraq, Syria, and of course Iran. It is also not guaranteed that such as Saudi Arabia or Kuwait or any other nations which control alternate and much longer routes would be willing to stand down. The only probable nation which would be agreeable would be Jordan and I guess one should be thankful for any favors. Add to Iran the seeming determination of President Obama to divide Israel up in order to form a Palestinian state even to the point of dividing Jerusalem once again and Israel really has a difficult immediate future. The claims made by a number of Palestinian official spokespeople that President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry provided the Palestinians with assurances that the borders would be crafted along the 1949 Armistice lines with only the land swaps the Palestinians allowed to alter the borders and one might decide that the best hope would be no success to the talks. Such possible outcomes make one hopeful that the Palestinians continue in their past tendencies to never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity. Unfortunately, they only have to not miss one opportunity to make up for all those missed in the past, may it not be this one.
Beyond the Cusp