The ad-libbed war?

posted at 10:41 am on August 30, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

Proponents of action in Syria after the use of chemical weapons make a case — and it’s not a bad case — that the credibility of the United States is on the line.  Once the President draws a red line, we either need to back up those words or risk losing the deterrent our power provides to keep our enemies in line, and our friends confident of our protection.  With Iran still pushing to create its own nuclear-arms arsenal, that deterrent isn’t just a theoretical construct but a badly-needed reality. Advocates of action in Syria explicitly name Iran as the reason the US has to back up its red lines with action once crossed.

In this case, it’s instructive to see how we got to this red line in the first place. ABC News’ Devin Dwyer reminds us that this was an ad-lib gone horribly wrong:

While Obama has long spoken out against Bashar al-Assad and the use of chemical weapons, it was the president’s apparent off-the-cuff comments one year ago that may now be most responsible for putting the U.S. in a bind.

Obama’s warning in August 2012 that use of a “whole bunch” of chemical weapons would cross a “red line,” triggering “enormous consequences,” went much further than aides had planned, several told theNew York Times earlier this year.  Some reportedly wished Obama could have taken those words back.

Now, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate, who has made ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan his signature foreign policy achievement, is at risk of entangling the U.S. in a fresh Middle East conflict.

Dwyer refers to Obama as a “tortured spirit,” who never wanted to find himself in this position.  Even at the time, though, it was clear that Obama did want to put himself in this position — while hoping that Assad wouldn’t call his bluff.  Obama was in the middle of a presidential campaign which had begun to position him as the experienced foreign-policy hand, and the administration had spent the last few months bragging about its intervention in Libya.  Talking tough with Assad was designed to leverage his supposed success in Libya on the international stage as well as increase his standing at home, before the attack on our consulate in Benghazi exposed the disaster that Western intervention caused.

Dwyer even mentions Joe Biden’s bragging at the time, in the context of Obama’s sudden international isolation at present:

After the fact, Vice President Joe Biden declared the operation a new “prescription for how to deal with the world,” stressing “we don’t have to do it ourselves.”  “The NATO alliance worked like it was designed to do: burden sharing,” he told CNN.

Now, the loss of British backing of a strike against Syria is a significant blow to Obama’s vision, setting up two undesirable options:  not keeping his word on “enormous consequences” for crossing that “red line,” or going it relatively alone.

Last year, Obama put the US on the hook for another Libya-like intervention, based on a bet that Assad wouldn’t ever unleash his WMDs after seeing what we did to Moammar Qaddafi.  Assad must have seen what the real result was in Libya and guessed that we wouldn’t be dumb enough make the same mistake twice and hand another failed state to al-Qaeda and its affiliates.  This looks as if both nations made bad bets, and we’re on track for another war thanks to an impulsive ad-lib.  Small wonder the Brits chose not to double down.

Update: Matt Lewis says if we want to look tough to Iran, why not bomb them instead?


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Comment pages: 1 2

Follow the money…

PappyD61 on August 30, 2013 at 1:45 PM

And the proposed pipeline through Syria (from Quatar and Saudi Arabia) has nothing to do with this war against Assad?

$$$$$$

Obama and the Dems have their own Halliburton……rest assured.

PappyD61 on August 30, 2013 at 1:49 PM

Schadenfreude on August 30, 2013 at 12:07 PM

To this I should have added that Pelosi went to make nice with Asaad, against the Bush admin’s wishes.

Now she is the ‘hawk’ against Asaad, the harlot and scumhag.

Schadenfreude on August 30, 2013 at 1:49 PM

Schadenfreude on August 30, 2013 at 12:07 PM

Nice post.

RushBaby on August 30, 2013 at 1:51 PM

Fox News reporting Obama will be speaking in 2 minutes. Will his nose grow?

birdwatcher on August 30, 2013 at 1:51 PM

That is 20 minutes Obama will speak.

birdwatcher on August 30, 2013 at 1:52 PM

Kerry says ‘no doubt’ Syrian President Assad used chemical weapons…bet it is seared into his memory like that Nixon-ordered Christmas incursion into Cambodia over a month before Nixon was sworn in as president.

My God…

The hubris.

The petulance.

The sheer stupidity.

And Obama does not want to be mocked…

He will be…oh, yes, he will be.

But, far more important, the United States will be loathed.

And Obama could not care less about that.

coldwarrior on August 30, 2013 at 1:53 PM

Big time defending dear leader and keeps comparing it to Kosovo lauding bubba for going it alone then cmsinaz on August 30, 2013 at 11:13 AM

So we’re gonna shoot the Chinese embassy again? Wouldn’t that be something?!

Akzed on August 30, 2013 at 1:54 PM

That’s right. A strike on Iranian nuclear facilities would have at least some bipartisan support right now. It’s clear that the Shiite axis is willing to use WMD. Shouldn’t we stop them from getting nukes?

Also, maybe restore some of the funding to the DoD if you’re going to be blundering into bombing campaigns every couple of years.

xuyee on August 30, 2013 at 1:54 PM

use of a “whole bunch” of chemical weapons would cross a “red line,” triggering “enormous consequences,” went much further than aides had planned, several told theNew York Times earlier this year. Some reportedly wished Obama could have taken those words back.

So this is one of the few times he went solo without the teleprompter.
That makes him a moron officially.

papertiger on August 30, 2013 at 1:54 PM

Now they are saying taped remarks by Obama. Can’t have any pesky questions.

birdwatcher on August 30, 2013 at 1:55 PM

Without American boots on the ground, American missiles and bombs can only diminish Assad’s air power making him more dependent than ever on chemical weapons. When the number of gassed dead escalates from the hundreds to the thousands there will be more pressure again with the ‘shibboleth’ FOR HUMANITARIAN REASONS to send American ground forces in. It’s called MISSION CREEP.

MaiDee on August 30, 2013 at 1:57 PM

Now they are saying taped remarks by Obama. Can’t have any pesky questions.

birdwatcher on August 30, 2013 at 1:55 PM

Or reveal the fact he’s speaking from a golf course clubhouse.

Steve Eggleston on August 30, 2013 at 2:00 PM

What is the real goal here? Another crisis manufactured? If so, for what end? Don L on August 30, 2013 at 12:32 PM

Sleeper cells in the US being unleashed by Iran provoking a national version of Tsarnaev/Watertown.

It’s so foreseeable it may be a goal. It may be the ultimate goal.

Akzed on August 30, 2013 at 2:02 PM

RushBaby on August 30, 2013 at 1:51 PM

Thank you RB. I’m sorry for America, but she brung it upon herself.

Schadenfreude on August 30, 2013 at 2:05 PM

Now they are saying taped remarks by Obama. Can’t have any pesky questions.

birdwatcher on August 30, 2013 at 1:55 PM

Or reveal the fact he’s speaking from a golf course clubhouse.

Steve Eggleston on August 30, 2013 at 2:00 PM

Listen for pauses and the sound of a swish-tap-splash from President Fredo McChoomer.

slickwillie2001 on August 30, 2013 at 2:06 PM

Assad to Obama, “I’ll call, you wimp”.

Mason on August 30, 2013 at 2:06 PM

Wag the Obama

ErnstBlofeld on August 30, 2013 at 2:07 PM

‘Toons of the Day: They Have Been Found Wanting

Pics of the Day: Because It’s Friday

Bmore, I still need a US-AQ Air Force logo. Any ideas? I don’t just want the flags like I did with NASA: Muslim Outreach.

Resist We Much on August 30, 2013 at 2:14 PM

Remember the beating that George Bush got for his “bring it on” line. Somehow I dont remember ABC news trying to “help him out”

http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/world/iraq/2003-07-02-bush-iraq-troops_x.htm

lostinjrz on August 30, 2013 at 2:17 PM

DAMASCUS | Wed Aug 28, 2013 8:56am EDT

(Reuters) – Syria’s deputy foreign minister said on Wednesday that the United States, Britain and France helped “terrorists” use chemical weapons in Syria, and that the same groups would soon use them against Europe.

Speaking to reporters outside the Four Seasons hotel in Damascus, Faisal Maqdad said he had presented U.N. chemical weapons inspectors with evidence that “armed terrorist groups” had used sarin gas in all the sites of alleged attacks.

“We repeat that the terrorist groups are the ones that used (chemical weapons) with the help of the United States, the United Kingdom and France, and this has to stop,” he said. “This means these chemical weapons will soon be used by the same groups against the people of Europe,” he added.

(Reporting by Marwan Makdesi; Writing by Oliver Holmes; Editing by Jon Boyle)

Akzed on August 30, 2013 at 2:22 PM

US ‘backed plan to launch chemical weapon attack on Syria, blame it on Assad govt’: Report By ANI | ANI – Wed 30 Jan, 2013

London, Jan 30 (ANI): The Obama administration gave green signal to a chemical weapons attack plan in Syria that could be blamed on President Bashar al Assad’s regime and in turn, spur international military action in the devastated country, leaked documents have shown.

A new report, that contains an email exchange between two senior officials at British-based contractor Britam Defence, showed a scheme ‘approved by Washington’.

As per the scheme ‘Qatar would fund rebel forces in Syria to use chemical weapons,’ the Daily Mail reports.

Barack Obama made it clear to Syrian president Bashar al-Assad last month that the U.S. would not tolerate Syria using chemical weapons against its own people.

According to [a news source that would put this post in moderation purgatory if it appeared], the December 25 email was sent from Britam’s Business Development Director David Goulding to company founder Philip Doughty.

The emails were released by a Malaysian hacker who also obtained senior executives resumes and copies of passports via an unprotected company server, according to Cyber War News.

According to the paper, the U.S. State Department has declined to comment on the matter. (ANI)

Akzed on August 30, 2013 at 2:25 PM

And the proposed pipeline through Syria (from Quatar and Saudi Arabia) has nothing to do with this war against Assad?

$$$$$$

Obama and the Dems have their own Halliburton……rest assured.

PappyD61 on August 30, 2013 at 1:49 PM

I think it’s time to put the “they’re doing this for Oil” argument away. This administration is so against fossil fuels of any kind, that it is extremely doubtful they could be swayed by a pipeline through Syria. They won’t approve one from Canada to Texas. They’ve their best to destroy the coal industry as well. Coal producers can’t get permits to export their product. Nah! A pipeline being the reason is a pipe dream. Not there!

Boats48 on August 30, 2013 at 2:35 PM

Boats48 on August 30, 2013 at 2:35 PM

Don’t dismiss it out of hand. The Rats do have their Haliburtons – our “friends” the Saudis and Warren Buffett, the main beneficiaries of the War on North American-Produced Hydrocarbons and Coal.

Steve Eggleston on August 30, 2013 at 2:38 PM

US ‘backed plan to launch chemical weapon attack on Syria, blame it on Assad govt’
Akzed on August 30, 2013 at 2:25 PM

Probably not fair to call it a “U.S. backed plan”.

When 0bama and McCain conspire with Al Qaeda to start a war against one of the last semi-secular leaders in Muzzieland, it shouldn’t be blamed on the whole country.

Well…. maybe it is. We allowed both of them to remain in office despite knowing what traitorous douches they are.

LegendHasIt on August 30, 2013 at 2:51 PM

Well…. maybe it is. We allowed both of them to remain in office despite knowing what traitorous douches they are. LegendHasIt on August 30, 2013 at 2:51 PM

Given the nature of things, when 0b00ba says he’s going to do something, it’s sorta what the US is going to do.

Akzed on August 30, 2013 at 2:57 PM

I think it’s time to put the “they’re doing this for Oil” argument away. This administration is so against fossil fuels of any kind, that it is extremely doubtful they could be swayed by a pipeline through Syria. Boats48 on August 30, 2013 at 2:35 PM

Maybe it’s not just oil, but in fact, certain oil. In other words, it only matters whose oil we’re talking about.

And the proposed pipeline through Syria (from Quatar and Saudi Arabia) has nothing to do with this war against Assad? $$$$$$ Obama and the Dems have their own Halliburton……rest assured. PappyD61 on August 30, 2013 at 1:49 PM

There might be no problem if the oil in question was from Qatar and SA. But it may be from a competitor, which may pose the problem.

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran has started construction on a $10 billion natural gas pipeline to key ally Syria, a news agency reported Monday, in an apparent nod of support to President Bashar Assad’s embattled regime and a further attempt by Tehran to boost energy exports battered by international sanctions.

Akzed on August 30, 2013 at 3:06 PM

Loose Lips Sink Ships….

and Presidencies!

Has this guy ever put his brain in gear before engaging his mouth?

Another Drew on August 30, 2013 at 4:36 PM

So..just so I understand this right:

1.) Claim you will end the Iraq and Afghanistan War(s).

2.) Claim you will close Gitmo.

3.) Do none of the above.

4.) Start Fresh wars in two previously uninvolved theaters, in support of the bad guys, who want to destroy America and Israel.

5.) Polish Nobel Peace Prize, set back on mantle. Throw dirty rag onto bust of Churchill, which now sets in remote corner of garage of White House.

a5minmajor on August 30, 2013 at 5:23 PM

To Mock A Killing Nerd: the adventures of a Nobel peace prize laureate in Syria

ElectricPhase on August 30, 2013 at 11:18 AM

What good is a book with no heroes?

AesopFan on August 30, 2013 at 6:36 PM

Those strings were there for a reason, Pinocchio. Stay on the prompter and stop pretending you know what you’re talking about.

Demonized on September 2, 2013 at 9:08 AM

Comment pages: 1 2