Whichever way it goes, Obama’s plan for a “limited but decisive” attack on Assad is probably over. George Will advised the president to quit talking himself into trouble. “The administration now would do well to do something that the head of it has an irresistible urge not to do: Stop talking. If a fourth military intervention is coming, it will not be to decisively alter events, which we cannot do, in a nation vital to U.S. interests, which Syria is not. Rather, its purpose will be to rescue Obama from his words.”
The bigger question is whether Obama himself is now over. There was a brief scare yesterday following reports that the Egyptian government was planning to close the Suez Canal to U.S. warships, in the event the Truman battle group passed through. That is what things have come to. But the narrative was prepared for hard and heavy tidings. Michael O’Hanlon wrote a possibly prophylactic piece in the Washington Post asking, ”Who needs the Suez Canal?” This follows earlier pieces that said, “Who needs Egypt?”
Yet how long before everyone starts to ask themselves a more fundamental question: who needs Obama? It is too early to tell how damaged he has become with this, his latest debacle. But it is not inconceivable that the British rejection will mark the end — or the beginning of the end — of Barack Obama’s presidency.
The most disturbing aspect of the Syria episode was that it wasn’t Boehner’s token resistance but the cumulative refusal of other sovereigns to go along that derailed the plan. Washington left to its own devices would have failed; it would have walked off the cliff. But reality worked, which is a bad sign really, since the Constitution is supposed to trap exceptions like this before they become actual physical problems.
It was the cumulative strategic effect of Obama’s blunders that provided an almost palpable pushback. That can’t hide the fact that the error handlers didn’t work. Congress was supine. The media was complicit to the end; and it required an actual debacle — a system crash — to alert the somnolent administrators to the problem. An E-bomb had to go off right in front of them to shake them awake. That is a huge worry because it suggests that while the Syria operation may be dead, so indeed is Washington.
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