February 12, 2013

WALTER RUSSELL MEAD: Obama Hits Sour Spot On Syria.

Once again President Obama has found the sour spot in his foreign policy—this time on Syria. Already pilloried by the left and right for his garbled strategy, Obama is now drawing the ire of the center as well. Following Leon Panetta’s admission last week that the President overruled his national security team’s wish to arm the rebels, the FT is calling Obama out. . . .

As the FT points out, President Obama wants it both ways: he’s demanded Assad step down and called preventing genocide “a core national-security interest,” but promised in his second inaugural that “a decade of war is now ending.” He’s also threatened war with Syria if chemical weapons are used and proclaimed a “responsibility to protect,” but seeks to slash defense spending, might withdraw a U.S. carrier from the Gulf, and vetoed his cabinet’s recommendations on Syria.

The problem is not that the President is turning his back on Syria; there’s certainly a case that one could make for such a policy. The problem is that the President has neglected to make a case at all. He’s been content to make certain rhetorical promises while pursuing contradictory lines of policy. This is not only insincere to the American people, it is an extremely dangerous strategy: Iran, Assad, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Israel might no longer know what to expect from the U.S., or believe anything its Commander in Chief says. When one of the region’s most powerful actors projects that kind of weakness, it’s a game changer.

Well, when you elect a guy whose biggest experience was in the Illinois State Senate, and writing two autobiographies, what do you expect? And there’s no evidence that he learned anything in his first term.