Friday, September 06, 2013
I'm just befuddled
I think Barack Obama must have a brain tumor. What in the Alpha Quadrant would make him utterly determined, against overwhelming public opinion, the international consensus, and the most basic common sense, to blow up stuff and people in Syria?
Since I stated my own, entirely correct opinion about this proposal a few days ago, I've pretty much found that just about everybody with one neuron to rub against another agrees with me. Mr. Obama's bit supporters are the same people who brought us Iraq and waterboarding, being against which is the reason B. Hussein Obama is now president. And yet here's John Kerry -- Winter Soldier John Fucking Kerry -- going on about Munich and appeasement.
I'm happy to be able to break it to you John -- Assad is not going to conquer Europe, or even the part of Syria he's already lost. And nobody is proposing to give him Czechoslovakia, or even a parking spot. What we are proposing is not to blow up some Syrians on top of the ones who are already being blown up for the purpose of "sending a message" that he should stick to blowing people up rather than gassing them. This is idiotic. And by the way if you're worried about chemical weapons falling into the hands of people who might use them against U.S. interests, or otherwise beyond the current conflict in Syria, the best way to make that happen is to make the Assad regime collapse. Somebody should probably explain that to president John McCain.
What is most bizarre about this is how counterproductive it is when Obama should be using all his bandwidth to promote the Affordable Care Act and explain it to people as it rolls out just three weeks from now. He's stepping all over his own lines with this insanity and meanwhile destroying the credibility with the world community that he has won back after the disasters of the predecessor regime. And oh yeah, he's just compounding the political damage from the Snowden revelations.
And why? What exactly is the affirmative goal? He claims it's to defend the "international norm" against use of chemical weapons but a) the U.S. hasn't been bothering to defend said international norm for the past 50 years or so -- in fact the U.S. used chemical weapons in Vietnam, assisted Saddam Hussein in using chemical weapons, used white phosphorus in Fallujah (yep) and held massive stockpiles of nerve gas until recently.
Syria is not a party to the international convention against chemical weapons use, and the Geneva convention is silent on use within sovereign borders. In other words, the Assad regime did not in fact violate any treaties or international law by this action. You might like it less than you like shooting people and blowing them up, for some reason, but personally, I don't think it matters.
If Obama hadn't been threatening military action, he probably could have gotten a Security Council resolution of condemnation, or at least statements from the European Community and the Arab League. He would have had leverage to get the Russians to temper their support for Assad, but now he's just pissed them off and destroyed any hope of organizing a negotiated solution to the Syrian tragedy. He's made the Iraqi government more hostile and he's greeted the new Iranian government's very obvious and likely sincere diplomatic overtures with a punch in the mouth.
If he goes ahead and does this without congressional authorization, there will be a resolution of impeachment in the House and it might even pass. Then we'll be screwing around with that for the next six months while we hit the debt limit and the continuing resolution for government spending authority expires. It's time to lay in the canned goods, folks.
If it's not a brain tumor, what is it? Somebody please explain.
Update: Juan Cole has a hypothesis, although it's not very convincing to me. Basically, the U.S. strategy in Syria has been to try to build up a secular fighting force that can beat out the Islamists on the battlefield. That will take a loooonnnnnggg time. The attack in Ghouta, according to Cole, was a response to this incipient force (which is being trained in Jordan) making advances in the Damascus suburbs. The idea is that Obama wants to make Assad fight "fair," (whatever that means) so the strategy has time to develop. Maybe so but is there any reason not to explain that publicly? Then we could have a meaningful discussion.