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Ed Driscoll

Begun, The Air War Has

September 7th, 2013 - 1:45 pm

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No, not over Syria yet, but you’ll be seeing a whole lot of Barack Obama on your TV set this week in the meantime, according to (appropriately enough) Deadline Hollywood:

As a Congressional vote on military action in Syria looms, you’ll be seeing a lot of President Barack Obama on TV next week. The White House today said that the President would be sitting down for individual taped interviews on September 9 with ABC’s Diane Sawyer, NBC’s Brian Williams, CBS’ Scott Pelley as well as with Fox News‘ Chris Wallace and anchors from CNN and PBS. The back-to-back interviews will be taped on Monday afternoon at the White House and are set to run that night on the respective networks’ evening news shows. FNC has scheduled its Obama interview to air at 6PM ET. Obama has also scheduled an address to the nation for September 10. A vote by the House and Senate on resolutions backing military action against the Assad regime over the alleged use of chemical weapons is expected in the middle of next week.

But why all the kabuki? As AWR Hawkins notes at Big Peace, “Even as he lobbies former Congressional colleagues to vote ‘yes’ on military action against Syria, Secretary of State John Kerry intimates the president can act even if Congress says ‘no.’”

At Power Line, John Hinderaker speculates, “Is This Why Obama Decided to Go to Congress?”

You are no doubt aware of news reports of threatened retaliation by Iran and others in the event of a Syrian strike. In the most horrifying instance, Iranian cleric Alireza Forghani–who, there is reason to believe, spoke with the approval of Iran’s rulers–vowed that in case of an attack on Assad:

In just 21 hours [after the attack on Syria], a family member of every U.S. minister [department secretary], U.S. ambassadors, U.S. military commanders around the world will be abducted. And then 18 hours later, videos of their amputation will be spread [around the world].

He also threatened that one of Obama’s daughters would be abducted and raped by terrorists. Yesterday the Wall Street Journal reported more threats:

The U.S. has intercepted an order from Iran to militants in Iraq to attack the U.S. Embassy and other American interests in Baghdad in the event of a strike on Syria, officials said, amid an expanding array of reprisal threats across the region.

These threats have been reported publicly only in recent days, but when would they have become known to President Obama? On September 5, the Daily Caller reported that Forghani issued his statement “last week.” The date when our intelligence agencies intercepted the Iranian message on Iraq has not been publicly reported, to my knowledge, but the Journal said yesterday that it was “intercepted in recent days.” So the timing fits: it seems probable that Obama became aware of the threats of retaliation that have been reported (and, perhaps, others that have not been made public) last week; likely, late last week.

Isn’t this the most plausible explanation of why Obama changed his mind about Congress? If sending a few cruise missiles into Syria was a symbolic act, without serious consequences, like blowing up an aspirin factory in Sudan, then Obama was happy to go it alone. But if there was a possibility of major blowback, not just from an isolated terrorist or two but coordinated by Tehran, the situation would have seemed entirely different. In the event of a significant retaliatory response, Obama would not want to be out on a limb by himself on Syria. Rather, he would want it to be clear that the Syrian intervention was a decision for which the entire U.S. government was responsible, including some Republicans (like, say, John McCain). This conclusion is even stronger, given the risk that a significant retaliation traceable to Iran would escalate tensions with that nation and could lead to a broader and far more substantial conflict. In this event, Obama most certainly would not want to be seen to have triggered the conflagration by himself.

Read the whole thing. And as Moe Lane writes echoing our own Insta-Professor, “Attention, Republican legislators: let the Democrats vote FIRST:”

Do this, please.  Make the Democrats sweat this vote.  They’re the ones who decided to run for the last decade on a ‘peace’ platform – and then elect a guy whose natsec strategy is to do everything that the Left thought that George W Bush did, only incompetently.  They’re also the ones who have to choose between heeding the desires of the leader of their party, and the desires of the American people; my sympathy for the average Democratic legislator caught in this cleft stick is somewhere below nil right now.  So I think that now is a marvelous time to encourage a little long-term thinking in the American Left, using a time-honored educational principle:

Negative reinforcement.

The Democratic Congressmen should answer to their constituents for their decisions,  including these Obama voters, who are living out in real life the Born to Kill/Peace Symbol Jungian Duality monologue of Private Joker in Full Metal Jacket:

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Of course, sometimes the “duality of man” is simply raging schizophrenia. Particularly if you’re a spittle-flecked barking MSNBC anchor. Ladies and gentlemen, the sophisticated nuanced vocal stylings of Mr. Edward Schultz:

What does it take to get a Republican to be against an airstrike? What does it take a Republican to be against a war or confrontation? Correct me if I’m wrong, folks, you can do it on Twitter — don’t the Republicans always run on the foreign policy that they are the experts? That the Democrats are weak, and that they are the ones that are so concerned about America’s security? You know, as the evidence comes in about the use of chemical weapons, how can they oppose the president? And a growing number of far right-wing Republicans are coming out and opposing an airstrike on Syria? Believe it or not, the righties like Rick Santorum and Marco Rubio and Michele Bachmann. And then, of course, there’s Donald Rumsfeld, Mr. Expert. They are saying no to an airstrike on Syria — and I agree with them. But for, of course, completely different reasons folks. The Republicans, they don’t hate war. They hate this guy: Barack Hussein Obama. They just cannot stomach the fact that they might be agreeing with him, ’cause they’d have a lot of trouble back home. They have fought this president, obstructed this president, their whole focus is to make him a failure. How in the world can they support him on going up against Syria? The level of spite in conservative hearts for this president is the only reason they are against war for the first time ever.

Of course, it was just last week that Ed was saying this:

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Carl Jung, call your office — you’re needed in the intensive care ward, stat.

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Well I just read that Tokyo is getting the Olympics. I hope they have a political Kabuki event. I predict a close contest between Abe's team and Obama's.
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