On January 10, 2007, President Bush made a speech to the nation, not unlike the format of Obama's tuesday speech. As commander in chief he declared the nature of his plan for the "Surge" and predicted that it would end the Iraq war on our terms and lead to our bringing the soldiers home. The response from the media and from Democrats, including Senator Obama, was shock, outrage and vituperation. Senator Obama, who had already begun working with his braintrust on his Presidential campaign strategy, wanted to be at the forefront of hobbling the commander in chief's war plans. He authored a bill that would take away Bush's war powers for escalating our presence in the region and would set in law the withdrawl of our military presence in the region.
On January 30, 2007, Senator Barack Obama introduced the Iraq War De-Escalation Act of 2007:
"Our troops have performed brilliantly in Iraq, but no amount of American soldiers can solve the political differences at the heart of somebody else's civil war," Obama said, alluding to Michael Scott Doran's essay "Somebody Else's Civil War" published in the Foreign Affairs journal in 2002. "That's why I have introduced a plan to not only stop the escalation of this war, but begin a phased redeployment that can pressure the Iraqis to finally reach a political settlement and reduce the violence."
Polls at the time showed the nation split almost evenly on whether Bush's Surge would result in victory. A few percentage points, within the margin of error, opposed the President's plan. Our founders were very clear on War Powers. Although majority rules predominate in a democracy, in our Republic the Executive is entrusted with broad powers so the whims of the majority would not create unstable or fluctuating commitments when troops are in the field. It was also meant to protect the commander in chief from having the political opposition attempt to use military strategy as a bludgeon to gain power at the expense of our fighting men or national interest. A key difference here is in Iraq, soldiers were at that moment in harm's way and could be fighting under increased peril if needless division hampered our ability to confront the enemy and break their will. In Syria we have yet to attack.
In this case, Bush ignored Obama's predictions that the Surge would result in a worsening of the Iraq war and a further destabilization in the region. Within a year combat deaths had dropped to the lowest monthly rate since the first year of the conflict. The war was essentially over and even military experts were shocked at how successful Bush's victory was and how devastatingly wrong Obama and his party had been. One of Obama's solutions in his bill was to attempt to,
"...create more regional diplomacy with key nations in the region to help achieve a political settlement among the Iraqi people and prevent a humanitarian catastrophe and regional conflict."
And who in particular did he want to act as a stabilizer in the region? Iran and Syria
Obama is now suddenly trumpeting his war powers and claims he doesn't need "Advise and consent" on foreign policy, doesn't need support from the UN, NATO or even the support of public opinion which recently was as low as single digits for his plans. I will not characterize his self important declarations of his abilities as megalomaniacal, but it is hard to find a President who claimed so much omnipotence on military powers, but had so little support from so few. The main reason is the utterly incomprehensible message he is offering and the absence of trust in his motives and abilities.
Let's consider his parties previous memes about conservative presidents and his own actions. In his Tuesday night speech he even presented an almost cartoonish characterization of the two parties in an attempt to shame critics in to falling in to submission to his superior intellect. The "Uniter in chief" said,
And so, to my friends on the right, I ask you to reconcile your commitment to America’s military might with a failure to act when a cause is so plainly just. To my friends on the left, I ask you to reconcile your belief in freedom and dignity for all people with those images of children writhing in pain, and going still on a cold hospital floor. For sometimes resolutions and statements of condemnation are simply not enough.
Indeed, I’d ask every member of Congress, and those of you watching at home tonight, to view those videos of the attack, and then ask: What kind of world will we live in if the United States of America sees a dictator brazenly violate international law with poison gas, and we choose to look the other way?
This is the man who in 2007 admitted he would tolerate genocide in Iraq if his plan for pullout resulted in a bloodbath. In his speech he tells of how Assad killed 100,000 people (As Obama stood silently) with conventional weapons and then allegedly killed a 1000 with Sarin gas. His so called Russian solution is if he surrenders the ability to kill another 1000 with Sarin, he can stay in power and merrily go on his way killing another 100,000. Yes, Mr. President What kind of a world, indeed?
The reason Ronald Reagan was so good about delivering a speech on American values and moral imperatives is because he had a deeply thought out and clear understanding of his inner moral compass and a heartfelt vision for the moral crusade of our nation. It was not his presentation that made his vision sound coherent, it was the clarity and coherence that made it an effective presentation. The needle on Obama's inner compass points not at the north star, but at Barack Obama.
The Left has for years characterized conservative presidents as:
1. Making reckless, blustering macho slogans and threats of war to toss "Red Meat" to voters in order to bolster a war like image amongst slow witted yokels in an effort to win elections.
Obama made the ill advised "Red Line" boast on WMDs against Assad in the midst of an election year. John McCain and other prominent Senators had been encouraging Obama to do something about the ongoing civil war in Syria and Obama's remarks were considered by some as a way to declare why he had not become involved, but express with certainty that there were circumstances, i.e. WMD for which "Enormous consequences" would be inflicted on Assad. In August of 2012, when he mentioned the Red Line on WMD, he also stated "Assad must go". Now he seems to be OK with Assad staying in power and "Enormous Consequences" have become "Unbelievably small" consequences.
2. Having made blustering threats to smaller weaker nations, the conservative feels he has to follow through on threats in order to save face. Protecting Americans has nothing to do with it.
If Obama thinks that his cruise missiles will save face in the international community, how do these two failed promises fit in to that calculus. Clearly this is to save face domestically. Like the President, the Left in the media are not aware of how stupid they sound as they attempt to parrot what they imagine is the parody of conservative peace through strength.
The New York Times said,
"The goal of the cruise missile strikes the United States is planning to carry out in Syria is to restore the smudged “red line” that President Obama drew a year ago against the use of poison gas. If carried out effectively, the strikes may also send a signal to Iran that the White House is prepared to back up its words, no small consideration for an administration that has proclaimed that the use of military force remains an option if the leadership in Iran insists on fielding a nuclear weapon. "
In essence, Obama screwed up by having said this in the first place, so regardless of the merits, he must follow through or he personally will look foolish. Then there was the 45 minute walk in the garden where he decided to take it to congress after he was humiliated by the British. Many conservatives wanted to compliment the President for showing constitutional respect for the balance of powers. To them this move was so uncharacteristic of his combative disdain for bipartisan communication and inclusion. Then within hours the truth came out. The President's aides and his friends in the media began saying how this was a politically savvy move intended to outmaneuver conservatives. "Be careful what you ask for GOP". "This is a case of the dog catching the car". "Obama is going to force them to put up or shut up on Syria and make them accountable for their words". I'm picturing two soldiers on a war ship in the Mediterranean waiting for the go ahead to put their lives in danger on Obama's say so,... and one asks the other, "Why are we risking our lives today" and the other one says, "no real national security reason,... the President was trying to screw his political opponents, he missed, and we need to blow some people up so he can save face".
3. The war loving conservative doesn't care about the young Americans who must sacrifice and risk their lives in order to make the conservative President feel big.
By the first autumn of Bush's second term, 2000 lives had been lost in Afghanistan and Iraq. It is now autumn in Obama's second term and 2000 lives have been lost under his watch. Where are the photos of returning coffins at Dover that he once thought was so important. Where is the nightly drumbeat and body count that opened each nightly news cast. Ted Koppel's 2004 controversial Nightline episode (in an election year) where they read all the lives lost up to that date included 750 names.
4. The War loving conservative tries to inflame passions about war as a way to distract from failed domestic policies and reward corporate friends.
Obamcare is in flames. Immigration is possible, but not in a way that can make the Republicans look foolish and the President look good, so also on the rocks. Any other initiatives on the schedule this year? Umm...Nope! Are we at that point in the second term where the media starts naval gazing about the "Search for a legacy". And corporate friends? No administration in modern history is more embroiled in crony capitalism than Obama's. A decade ago, the most mainstream media personalities repeated the blood for oil meme and how Bush was waging war to make his oil buddies rich. Either Mr. Bush is very generous towards an invisible group of friends and not so interested in living on a palatial estate or he botched this get rich quick scheme. He lives in a fairly modest (by Hollywood and Manhattan standards) suburban neighborhood in Dallas. His home price has risen to approximately $1 Million dollars since he moved in to the cul de sac, which would be considered a fixer upper in most of LA. Obama on the other hand makes more in one year ($6 Million) than the average annual 1040s of all the Presidents elected in his lifetime...combined!
5. The War loving conservative President claims he is deterring violence by threatening and use of force against smaller nations, when in fact American aggression is the cause of terror attacks on the US
Obama said this on March 8, 2008 about George Bush and his predecessors:
In the context of a blistering critique of U.S. policy in Iraq, Obama said: “It’s the same course that continues to divide and isolate America from the world by substituting bluster and bullying for direct diplomacy.”
He repeated on several occasions the Democrat meme that the reason the world hates us is because of our (Republican) tendency to recklessly use force when diplomacy would convince others to do as we say. This was always a strange argument that implies most nations we come in to contact with were either perpetually acting in some way other than their national interest at our behest or if Obama had his way, by the use of his charm, they will forgo that national interest "willingly" and do what Obama tells them to do. Either way, the implication is that Obama wants other nations to change and thinks his carrot is better than the conservative stick. Either way, the point remains, nations act in their national interest and we do too, as we should. In this particular case, Obama is the one having a difficult time verbalizing his concept of national interest. This usually means he is making it up as he goes and imagining that we are so stupid or the media loves him so much that if he just dresses it up enough, people will have to buy it. If they don't he will demonize them, which in the midst of the speech he was already doing. Strangely enough both Assad and Obama suffer from the same problem,... a confusion between what is national interest and what is good for the supreme leader.
Obama's speech was a muddled mass of hyperbolic contradictions. First, Obama claimed that he wants to bomb Assad. And anyone that opposes bombing Syria or wants to postpone it is immoral. Then he switched gears. He claimed he is so smart he has found a way to avoid bombing Syria. He implies that it is too difficult to explain the details of his diplomatic plan and you'll just have to trust him that his postponing of the bombing is the right path. He'll get back to us. This is plan is on a need to know basis. Like Benghazi.
Both Obama and Kerry keep claiming smaller and smaller amounts of force are going to be used, until they are "unimaginably small". I don't know. I can imagine a pretty small use of force and I've got a pretty good imagination.
And he wonders why America is having a difficult time swallowing this. If you like your present Aircraft carrier, you can keep it and your rates will not go up. Just join me and I'll respect you in the morning. I rarely hear "The Arab street" say "America should be forgiven for bullying that middle east country because they used a two day pinprick. I didn't feel a thing". Oh, I forgot the US military does not do pinpricks. No, they're Bullies according to Sen. Barack Obama and they "strafe innocent Women and children" according to Sen. Kerry. They keep telling us no one will be pissed off, but Assad will become the friendly latte drinking thug that Pelosi and Kerry once enjoyed dining with only a couple of years ago.
Everyone keeps telling us what they think the lessons of Iraq are. One lesson is that assuming that brandishing a weapon like Cagney and Lacy will cause even the craziest madmen of the world to drop everything and submit to our every desire is definitely a farcical Primetime assumption made by non-military individuals or Presidents who think they can bluff Putin or Assad the way they bluff Boehner and Cantor. Saddam flipped double middle fingers at the US as bombs fell all around him and when the bombs stopped, he was the hero of every nutjob in the Middle East. Clinton bombed Saddam in 1998 for 4 days to "degrade but not eliminate" his WMDs and his ability to remain in power. Did that scare Saddam?
6. The war loving conservative President doesn't really care who he's bombing as long as he is bombing someone.
In recent weeks, several "un-named" Democrats have asked, "Does Obama really know who he is siding with". In Egypt he compared the Brotherhood to Ghandi and Martin Luther King Jr., then they began murdering Christians and taking on dictatorial powers. Members of their coalition representing the Blind Sheik's group Gamal Islamiya, the same group that bombed the World Trade Center in 1993 and are now members of Al Qaeda, arrived at the White House for a diplomatic discussion on how they could trade for the release of the Blind Sheik, Abdul Rahman. Regardless of how well that went for them, the very fact that they imagine our President is open to the idea is scary. Then the Brotherhood was toppled. Then Libya was the Arab Spring star of the moment. Kaddafi who gave up WMD after Bush convinced him to do so "through diplomacy" gets his show of weakness rewarded by getting sodomized with a rifle on youtube by Obama's chosen allies. If that's Obama's carrot, I'd hate to see his stick. Now Syria. And the very thought that Iran is doing anything but laugh at all this is ludicrous. How in gods name will Iran be scared or deterred by an "unimaginably small" strike after Obama promised Assad would be out of power and suffer "Enormous consequences". When Obama taunts conservatives to "reconcile your commitment to America’s military might with a failure to act when a cause is so plainly just", he is making the same type of remark Madeliene Albright made to Colin Powell when she said "What's the point of having this superb military that you're always talking about if we can't use it? " It assumes Cowboys are just waiting to pull out there six shooters and blow holes in the ceiling shouting "Yee-Haw" and that they can be counted on to support ANY military venture no matter how misguided or suicidal.
7. Bush the Cowboy should have focused on Osama Bin Laden at Tora Bora, but he took his eye off the ball and I would have supported this war in Afghanistan whole heartedly because of the idea of self defense, assuming Bush wasn't behind 911, but it has been run so poorly, we missed our opportunity in the beginning to get it right and even we liberals can't fix it now, so we should just quit and come home because we've made our point kind of I guess, whatever.
There are many Democrats that claimed they supported war against Iraq and Afghanistan, but it wasn't carried out in the perfect manner that a good President would have and since the time has past to do it right, we have no choice but to walk away, regardless of who suffers because of it. How does that not apply here in Syria?
The ideal time to attack Syria would have been about a decade ago or attack Iran for that matter. Had we known Assad would start using WMDs then, we should have had Nancy Pelosi bring her Burqa home and start with tanks on the Iraqi border. The massive anti-war movement, Truthers and small time state senators from Illinois trying to exploit the war for their own personal benefit obviously hampered George Bush's war powers and his ability to conduct foreign policy. If dealing with Syria then was not right then how about 2011 when the civil war started. McCain asked Obama to act, just as McCain asked him to act in Iran in 2009, but nothing. This was before Al Qaeda had answered the call from the rebels to help them, only after Obama turned his back on them. The next time to act was in an election year, 2012, when in August Obama laid down the red line. It was not until just days after Obama won re-election that Obama began to address reports that evidence of chemical weapons being active had been verified in the months prior to election day. Then Obama starts his second term with hope of new programs and domestic legislation, but his inability to even speak to the opposition frustrates his plans. And as more evidence of chemical use begins to make him look weak, he tells the boys in the situation room to get fired up.
The scariest thing about this whole fiasco is, he really doesn't know what he's doing and it shows. He honestly believes conservatives want their commander in chief to look stupid to the rest of the world. Right, nothing makes us happier than placing a giant "Kick me" sign around the neck of the greatest nation and the shining city on the hill. I think that must be Obama's projection.
In February, the New York Times reported that Secretary Clinton and former CIA Director David Petraeus had crafted a plan in the summer of 2012 to provide vetted rebel groups with lethal arms and training, but after a year of McCain, Graham and Lieberman hounding the President to act on Syria and in the midst of his re-election bid, Obama rejected the proposal. Defense Secretary Panetta and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Martin Dempsey then told a congressional panel that they agreed with the plan proposed by Clinton and Petraeus to provide arms to rebel groups.
John McCain was astonished after having prompted the response from the SecDef and the nation's highest ranking Military officer:
"What this means is that the president overruled the senior leaders of his own national security team, who were in unanimous agreement that America needs to take greater action to change the military balance of power in Syria,"
So Obama was on television on tuesday wagging his finger at the world as if only he has a heart and only he has the brains to understand the issues. So where was Obama a year ago?
Senate Republicans lead by McCain and Graham have pushed for Syria for two years. Defense minded Democrats like Lieberman, Menendez and Levin as well. Actually Lieberman was savagely ejected out of the Democrat Party by Obama and his buddies because he rightly believed the Surge would work. In May of 2012, his opponent Mitt Romney drew a clear difference between the two candidates by supporting action against Syria. Many of our allies supported action over a year ago, but Obama failed to use diplomatic persuasion to influence Russia and China who vetoed a Syria plan. This was about the time of his remark to Medvedyev that after he is re-elected he will be free to do what he wants. At the time that was interpreted to mean, I am forced to appear sensitive to the considerations of the majority in America for now, but after being re-elected, I can do whatever I want. Apparently not. Saving face is becoming a full time job for Obama.
Obama seems to imagine that showing up fashionably late to a party is only for VIPs like him, but when you show up and the party has moved on, its a lonely place. And screaming in to the dark won't make them come back. At least Bill Clinton apologized for standing by as Rwandans died. Don't hold your breath for Obama to apologize for the 100,000 Syrian dead, especially when his plan to jump ship and join the Russian's plan for Syria is to ensure Assad stays in power and kills more Syrians with conventional weapons. So much for a moral compass. The Presidential Limo should have a bumper sticker. "Don't follow me, I'm lost too."