Obama considering military action in Syria again?

posted at 10:41 am on February 20, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

Last year, Barack Obama ended up humiliating himself after drawing a red line for American military intervention in Syria, having his bluff called — and then suffering a rebuke from Congress, failing to win approval for action. The failure to build support for such action even with a year in which to work on Capitol Hill demonstrated the empty recklessness of Obama’s rhetoric and undermined his credibility and American authority in the region. Its echoes continue to this week, when everyone scoffed at Obama drawing a line on Ukraine’s actions against its opposition. They’re taking their signals from Russia, which Obama ended up doing after the faceplant on Syria.

That may soon change, according to Olivier Knox at Yahoo News. The White House has begun quietly looking at military options for intervention in Syria, especially those which will not require Congressional approval. The focus has fallen on al-Qaeda and the still-extant Authorization to Use Military Force from just after 9/11:

Efforts to broker a diplomatic settlement between Assad and moderate rebels show no promise right now. Russia and China have blocked any effort by the United Nations Security Council to tighten the pressure on the regime in Damascus.

But senior intelligence officials late last month opened a new path for Obama to increase U.S. involvement in a way that wouldn’t require congressional authorization, could minimize a public backlash, and might give Syria’s moderates some breathing room.

How? By telling Congress that Syria increasingly serves as a base, not just a battleground, for extremist groups looking to someday attack the United States.

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper compared areas of Syria held by groups the United States considers terrorists to remote areas of Pakistan that are thought to harbor Al-Qaeda. Those groups have “aspirations for attacks” on the United States, he told the Senate Intelligence Committee. …

Likening Syria to Yemen raises the possibility that America could widen its much-criticized strategy of targeting extremists with drone strikes.

Congressional officials say that the idea of using unmanned aerial vehicles against targets in Syria has gained currency inside the administration in recent weeks, but caution against expecting an imminent shift, much less announcement of a new policy.

The sudden discovery of AQ involvement in Syria is baffling, for a couple of reasons. First, we’ve known about it all along, and second … they’re nominally fighting against Bashar al-Assad and on the side of his opposition. The impulse to use military strikes in Syria was to punish Assad, not one of his enemies.

This is a simplification, of course, because these days AQ and its allies are mostly killing the moderate rebels that made the fatal mistake of allying with them against Assad in the first place, while Assad is killing everything that moves. The idea, one supposes, is to strike against AQ to bolster the moderate rebels in their fight against Assad, but that just allows Assad to focus on the moderate rebels and let the US take on the so-called “extremists.” And this all presupposes that we can tell the difference, when we’ve had a lot of issues doing that in the past.

This raises all sorts of questions about the politics involved, too. Will Obama launch another undeclared war against a dictator without Congressional approval in an election year? With support for even the Afghanistan war approaching a minority position, the electorate won’t be terribly keen on yet another intervention with no clear aim, or even target in this case. It’s going to be difficult for Democratic incumbents to defend both ObamaCare and another ill-defined military adventure all at the same time.

If Obama really wanted to get AQ out of Syria, he wouldn’t take aim there — but in Iraq. The government in Baghdad has had to refight the war in Anbar and the western part of Iraq that we had won by 2008 against al-Qaeda in Iraq, now called ISIS, which has metastasized since into an international menace. Attacking ISIS in their eastern front in Iraq would not only help bolster the elected government we left behind in Baghdad, it would draw ISIS out of Syria and take the pressure off the moderate rebels there without us having to guess who’s who. But that would take a little more political risk by re-entering Iraq, and I suspect drone attacks over Syria is the path of least resistance.


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Since Chicago Jesus can’t send ships to the Black Sea…

workingclass artist on February 20, 2014 at 10:42 AM

The focus has fallen on al-Qaeda and the still-extant Authorization to Use Military Force from just after 9/11:

Will the left even acknowledge the irony?

cozmo on February 20, 2014 at 10:42 AM

Obligatory Bishop

workingclass artist on February 20, 2014 at 10:42 AM

“Considering” doesn’t cost much nor does it necessarily take up any useful time.

Shy Guy on February 20, 2014 at 10:43 AM

Obligatory Bishop

workingclass artist on February 20, 2014 at 10:42 AM

That’s only for breathless noobs. Being a sophomore, and a Texan (but mostly a Texan), you should be above that.

cozmo on February 20, 2014 at 10:44 AM

I suspect drone attacks over Syria is the path of least resistance.

Lazy like water.

Bmore on February 20, 2014 at 10:45 AM

A new red line will show Assad he’s serious this time, kinda.

TCrez on February 20, 2014 at 10:45 AM

Does anyone take this moron seriously anymore?

ConstantineXI on February 20, 2014 at 10:45 AM

His poll numbers must be really bad.

bopbottle on February 20, 2014 at 10:46 AM

Obligatory Bishop

workingclass artist on February 20, 2014 at 10:42 AM

That’s only for breathless noobs. Being a sophomore, and a Texan (but mostly a Texan), you should be above that.

cozmo on February 20, 2014 at 10:44 AM

*snicker*

workingclass artist on February 20, 2014 at 10:49 AM

Just cruise missile bomb a baby milk factory. That will teach those assadists who is boss. Yeah, grrr says momma jeans and jarret’s pet

jake49 on February 20, 2014 at 10:50 AM

From the almost unreread headliner “Is Al Qaeda aiding Bashar Assad?”

“Wars can make strange bedfellows out of erstwhile enemies but if Western-backed Syrian rebels are to be believed, the Syrian conflict has thrown up one of the strangest ever wartime alliances, featuring Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad and jihadists such as Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the militant Sunni leader of the Islamic State of Iraq and Sham (ISIS) who wants to shape and rule over an emirate stretching across the Levant.”

Utter bullshit. The moderate secular rebel, if we are to believe really exist, knows they have taken an almost death blow hit with world opinion and support by the realization they have been so completely co-opted by the extremist Jihadist like (ISIS) ISIL and Al Nusrah. It would appear on it’s face a pretty weak attempt to deflect the “Supporting Terrorists” right back at Assad.

Assad is winning this war now and the Russians and Syrian are making this administration look like morons every single step of the way. He doesn’t need to ally with the jihadists.

hawkdriver on February 19, 2014 at 11:37 AM

Puts thumbs in suspenders.

hawkdriver on February 20, 2014 at 10:50 AM

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper

Now there’s a guy with as much credibility as Eric Holder!

GarandFan on February 20, 2014 at 10:52 AM

Does anyone take this moron seriously anymore?

ConstantineXI on February 20, 2014 at 10:45 AM

Only those still choomin on the hopebong…

http://obamacartoon.blogspot.com/2012/06/obamas-hope-bong-feels-so-good-until.html

workingclass artist on February 20, 2014 at 10:53 AM

Parachute Hillary into Syria, have her sing ‘Indian Love Call’ over loud speakers and watch the whole country melt.

MaiDee on February 20, 2014 at 10:53 AM

What has Yemen got to do with anything? Didn’t they sponsor or support the attack on the U.S.s. Cole and they look like they are still in pretty good shape. Obama’s going to do what he’s going to do, his ego gives him no choice. He’ll have to approve Keystone to distract his detractors before too long.

Cindy Munford on February 20, 2014 at 10:56 AM

The sudden discovery of AQ involvement in Syria is baffling, for a couple of reasons. First, we’ve known about it all along, and second … they’re nominally fighting against Bashar al-Assad and on the side of his opposition. The impulse to use military strikes in Syria was to punish Assad, not one of his enemies.

My head hurts. It’s too early to start drinking, besides I’ve got some woodworking to do this evening.

Remember the good old days when it was US vs. USSR, the threat of nuclear annihilation, and nothing else? Good times, good times.

rbj on February 20, 2014 at 10:57 AM

A line for the Commie Reds not to cross?

oldroy on February 20, 2014 at 10:57 AM

I find the idea of a military intervention in Syria very hard to believe. Maybe somebody in the WH is throwing up a balloon but I cannot see this going anywhere.

MJBrutus on February 20, 2014 at 10:58 AM

Obama will surprise them with his new secret weapon, an audio drone.

It will fly overhead and call the enemy nasty names.

fogw on February 20, 2014 at 11:00 AM

Why in the world do we want to get mixed up in that pit? Look at Libya, total mess. Stay out, it is their fight. Not like who ever wins is going to be our friend anyway. Let them kill each other, its not like they haven’t been doing that for about 2500 years anyway.

major dad on February 20, 2014 at 11:03 AM

O’ will probably send drones over Syria with loud speakers telling all of the belligerents to stop, or the US will draw another red line. Now, he’s making feckless noises about Ukraine, which will devolve into civil war, but will be ‘saved’ by Putin’s ‘Georgia solution’. This, followed by re-satelliting of the Baltic states and the intimidation of Poland and neighboring states. All will ‘stabilize’ under the benevolent hegemony of Russia and O’ will congratulate his pal Putin and declare, “Peace in our time”. Iran will have the ‘bomb’ and O’ will support their efforts to ‘solve’ the Zionist problem. And as usual, O’s mouth will continue to tach over the ‘red line’.

vnvet on February 20, 2014 at 11:04 AM

And this guy’s comment from the same thread.

Is obama aiding the terrorists? Always ask this question.

Schadenfreude on February 19, 2014 at 11:54 AM

If obama strikes the Syrians over this, he is no better than a dime store tyrant. The chances of Assad having any useful need, at this point in the war, in allying with Al Nusrah, ISIS or ISIIL or any faction of Al Qaeda is laughable.

obama has used US assets to train these Jihadists. There are videos posted “everywhere” on the internet of extremists in the Syrian Liberation Army committing the most violent and barbaric treatment of prisoners; including execution by way of beheading. We trained these people. Peruse through any site that covers that war and read the comments. The entire world blames the US for the terrorists rising to power in the SLA and the war crimes they’ve committed.

In my book, this is a no crap impeachable offense if he follows through on those pretenses.

Excellent article, Ed.

hawkdriver on February 20, 2014 at 11:05 AM

So obama is going to attack a country that has never attacked the US? I thought leftists hated that? Or is that only when a republican president does it? Someone needs to alert Code Pink to dust off the giant Va-JayJay suits.

Meanwhile the president who said we shouldn’t be air-raiding villages and killing women and children is responsible for this.

http://news.yahoo.com/report-us-drone-may-killed-dozen-civilians-050137829–politics.html

Well of course he also said “I’m pretty good at killing people”.

The silence from libtards is deafening,

verbalduece? lostmotherland? liberaldrools?

libfree? Your president is killing a whole lot of innocent brown people, where’s the outrage?

HumpBot Salvation on February 20, 2014 at 11:08 AM

It’s going to be difficult for Democratic incumbents to defend both ObamaCare and another ill-defined military adventure all at the same time.

It’s going to be difficult for Obama to sell this idea to any American, let alone democrats.
Syria means nothing to us. If Obama really wants to help – fire John Kerry and send Israel all the
weapons they can buy……

redguy on February 20, 2014 at 11:12 AM

Obama will surprise them with his new secret weapon, an audio drone.

It will fly overhead and call the enemy nasty names.

fogw on February 20, 2014 at 11:00 AM

Better than that: it will blast a collection of his speeches at them.

But that might be deemed so inhumane every civilized nation on Earth declares War on us.

ConstantineXI on February 20, 2014 at 11:15 AM

Obama (in a french accent): “Stop! or I will taunt you a second time”.

HotAirian on February 20, 2014 at 11:20 AM

Somebody should ask President Obama, “How can we successfully intervene in Syria when both sides of the civil war are hostile to the United States, and we don’t want either side to win?”

J.S.K. on February 20, 2014 at 11:22 AM

So basically Obama would try to stop the Al-Qaeda (and other Sunni Jihadist) vs. Iranian backed Assad/Hezbollah War.

I cannot conceive of anything dumber. Better yet it looks like Iran and Pakistan are sniping at one another, might even lead to war.

Lesson: You cannot make the Islamic world peaceful, the best you can do is keep them arms length and hope the figure it out on their own, or wipe each other out.

Now the only bright side is this would finish Obama off in terms of popularity, and hut Hillary considering she is all hot to jump into Syria as well.

William Eaton on February 20, 2014 at 11:26 AM

Tragically, laugh of the day…while he’s considering troops in the Ukraine too?

NO one cares about obama, mark it.

Schadenfreude on February 20, 2014 at 11:27 AM

If Obama had been a kamikaze pilot he would have flown over Tokyo until he ran out of gas.

There isn’t an ounce of courage in our public address system wearing a suit. And everyone knows it.

fogw on February 20, 2014 at 11:30 AM

You know off the top of my head I can name several areas of more strategic concern to the U.S. than Syria that are active and “hot” right now…

(1) East China Sea
(2) South China Sea
(3) Venezuela
(4) Sudan/South Sudan – at least there is oil there and the side we will be aiding is not Muslim, but Christian, and they are being attacked by Jihadist Muslims supported by China. Sounds like a easy winner to me…

William Eaton on February 20, 2014 at 11:33 AM

Obama must be hoping that Assad or Putin will die laughing.

Steve Z on February 20, 2014 at 11:35 AM

O’ will probably send drones over Syria with loud speakers telling all of the belligerents to stop, or the US will draw another red line. Now, he’s making feckless noises about Ukraine, which will devolve into civil war, but will be ‘saved’ by Putin’s ‘Georgia solution’. This, followed by re-satelliting of the Baltic states and the intimidation of Poland and neighboring states. All will ‘stabilize’ under the benevolent hegemony of Russia and O’ will congratulate his pal Putin and declare, “Peace in our time”. Iran will have the ‘bomb’ and O’ will support their efforts to ‘solve’ the Zionist problem. And as usual, O’s mouth will continue to tach over the ‘red line’.

vnvet on February 20, 2014 at 11:04 AM

Worth repeating.

Between what you, hawkdriver, and Ed says, the rudderlessness of this adminstration’s foreign policy is abundantly clear.

onlineanalyst on February 20, 2014 at 11:47 AM

How about we give Barack, McCain, Graham and Ayotte AK-47 and parachute their butts into the middle of Syria?

bw222 on February 20, 2014 at 11:47 AM

Sure

Schadenfreude on February 20, 2014 at 11:48 AM

Is this “core Al-Qaeda” which I believe Obama still says is “on the run,” or a different Al-Qaeda?

BKennedy on February 20, 2014 at 11:59 AM

…where
…are
…the
…trolls?

KOOLAID2 on February 20, 2014 at 12:04 PM

KOOLAID2 on February 20, 2014 at 12:04 PM

Like the “moderate” Free Syrian Army we were told we were supporting, they’re AWOL.

hawkdriver on February 20, 2014 at 12:09 PM

Poor Barry… ain’t happy unless he’s kill’n someone.

roflmmfao

donabernathy on February 20, 2014 at 12:16 PM

For if the trumpet gives an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself for the battle?

Is our military ready to fight and die for this man?

Mason on February 20, 2014 at 1:18 PM

No, we shouldn’t go back into Iraq. We’ve meddled enough there, and the State Department started the insurgency with their de-Baathification policy. 4000 dead and hundreds of billions spent because of liberal State Dept pop psychology. We can’t fix anybody’s civil war and it’s the wrong part of the world… people don’t “get over” things. The Sunnis controlled Iraq before we installed a Shiite, Iran controlled puppet state – they’ll do so again, the Saudis will ensure it. And no, we didn’t “win” anything in 2008, we sent Army units out with giant wads of cash called “Incentive Funds” and paid Sunni sheiks to turn in AQI, who the sheiks were already mad at. When we left, the money stopped and the Sunni Sheiks started cooperating with a moderated AQI again. That’s not a victory.

John_G on February 20, 2014 at 1:39 PM

Why are we even discussing this? They have no intention of doing anything at all.

crankyoldlady on February 20, 2014 at 1:50 PM

Just put a cutout of obummer and Putin shaking hands at the entrance to each conquered town.

jake49 on February 20, 2014 at 1:58 PM

Obama considering military action in Syria again?

Yeah, I didn’t think they’d back off of this permanently.

The way they work is to stick their little toesies in the water, wait for backlash, figure out how to deal with that, and then dive in sometime later.

Dr. ZhivBlago on February 20, 2014 at 4:12 PM