Obama needs to justify Syria action, says … Donald Rumsfeld

posted at 9:21 am on August 29, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

The emphasis on Donald Rumsfeld’s name in the headline is for our friends on the Left, whose heads must be exploding right now.  For eight years, they screeched about the warmongers of the previous administration, with Rumsfeld the warmongeriest of all the warmongers.  Neil Cavuto asked the former Secretary of Defense whether action in Syria was warranted at this time, and Rumsfeld told him … no one knows, because Barack Obama hasn’t bothered to make a case as to why intervention serves our security interests:

Former defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld says the Obama administration has not yet justified an attack on Syria.

“There really hasn’t been any indication from the administration as to what our national interest is with respect to this particular situation,” Rumsfeld told Fox News’ Neil Cavuto on Wednesday.

“If you think of what’s really important in that region, it’s two things,” he added. “It’s Iran’s nuclear program and the relationship between Iran and Syria, the Assad regime, with respect to funding terrorists that go around killing innocent men, women and children including Americans.”

Critics of the Bush administration’s war in Iraq may scoff, but George W. Bush scrupulously made the case for military intervention in Iraq.  The Bush White House produced a detailed, sixteen-point justification outlining American interests in going to war with Saddam Hussein (of which WMD was a small subset), including the grotesque human-rights violations of the Saddam regime.  Bush went to Congress and received authorization to use military force.  He then went to the UN and at least made the case for intervention — based largely on Saddam’s refusal to abide by the 1991 cease-fire and seventeen subsequent UN Security Council resolutions.

In contrast, Obama is barely talking with Congressional leadership about this military strike, and the only justification he’s offered for action to the American people is that Assad may feel emboldened to use chemical weapons against the US. That’s a rather laughable assertion, as Assad has no ability to reach the US with his artillery shells, and he’s got much more pressing fights at home.

Rumsfeld is also “mystified” by the chatter coming out of the White House about timetables and proposals for the extent of the action.  “I can’t imagine what they’re thinking,” Rumself tells Cavuto.  The LA Times has a glimpse into that, actually (via Twitchy):

One U.S. official who has been briefed on the options on Syria said he believed the White House would seek a level of intensity “just muscular enough not to get mocked” but not so devastating that it would prompt a response from Syrian allies Iran and Russia.

“They are looking at what is just enough to mean something, just enough to be more than symbolic,” he said.

Jeffrey Goldberg has an answer to that strategy:

There’s nothing like acting out of an acute fear of mockery to get you mocked, I suppose. Remember“leading from behind”? This quote ranks up there in the did-someone-actually-say-that category. …

If this is indeed the goal of the Obama administration — to look tough without being tough, to avoid threatening the existence of Bashar al-Assad’s regime, and to avoid angering Iran and Russia — then, really, let’s not bother with this attack at all. For other reasons, I’m opposed to this sort of attack on Syria — please see yesterday’s post on the subject. But if the goal is merely to save face in light of President Barack Obama’s (morally and politically appropriate) drawing of a chemical-weapons red line, then this forthcoming attack is a very, very bad idea.

That may be why Obama isn’t providing a justification for it.


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