Yesterday on Twitter I posed a question about Syria: Would the administration that lied about Benghazi also lie about Syria? The question was rhetorical and I answered it — yes — in the same tweet.
What I had in mind was whether the Obama administration would use any evidence of a chemical attack as a pretext to go in on the side of the fragmented rebellion with its Islamist leadership and try another Libya “kinetic action.” I didn’t have such a brazen lie as Obama’s latest in mind. Here’s what the president had to say in Sweden today.
“First of all, I didn’t set a red line,” said Obama. “The world set a red line. The world set a red line when governments representing 98 percent of the world’s population said the use of chemical weapons are [inaudble] and passed a treaty forbidding their use, even when countries are engaged in war. Congress set a red line when it ratified that treaty. Congress set a red line when it indicated that in a piece of legislation entitled the Syria Accountability Act that some of the horrendous things happening on the ground there need to be answered for. So, when I said in a press conference that my calculus about what’s happening in Syria would be altered by the use of chemical weapons, which the overwhelming consensus of humanity says is wrong, that wasn’t something I just kind of made up. I didn’t pluck it out of thin air. There’s a reason for it.”
The president just moved the goal posts over into the next county. One year ago last month he did not cite any of that and did not say that the “world” was setting a red line. Barack Obama himself unilaterally set a red line. The White House then affirmed, yes, he had set his own red line.
We go on to reaffirm that the President has set a clear red line as it relates to the United States that the use of chemical weapons or the transfer of chemical weapons to terrorist groups is a red line that is not acceptable to us, nor should it be to the international community. It’s precisely because we take this red line so seriously that we believe there is an obligation to fully investigate any and all evidence of chemical weapons use within Syria.
…it is absolutely the case that the President’s red line is the use of chemical weapons…
To be frank, Barack Obama has no credibility to lead the nation into war. He has no track record of treating facts as facts. He has no track record of being honest with the American people, from Fort Hood’s “workplace violence” to his new shift on the “red line.” Words mean things, unless they’re uttered by Barack Obama, and in that case, they mean whatever he happens to want them to mean at the time. You can count on him changing the meaning whenever it suits him.
He also has no track record of success in war. His legacy at this point, nearly five years into his presidency, is chaos. He abandoned Iraq prematurely for political reasons, and it is sliding slowly toward civil war. He pledged no boots on the ground in Libya, yet waged war there, and it is now a failed state. Egypt is well on its way to becoming a failed state. He is pledging to abandon Afghanistan without regard to what happens after our troops leave. Is there any reason to believe that he will not turn Syria into another failed state, if he is allowed to wage any “kinetic action” there?
When his efforts go pear-shaped, as they did in Libya and four Americans died, Barack Obama’s first instinct is to lie about what happened and cover his tracks. And then lie some more. He told the world that a movie had caused the attack, and that “the future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam.” No American president should ever say that.
His next instinct is to get political, rather than lead. There is evidence that he is already approaching from a political, not national security, perspective.
White House set to hold conference call with House progressives on Syria tomorrow, sources tell me. Wooing underway.
— Greg Sargent (@ThePlumLineGS) September 3, 2013
Is his former campaign still driving foreign policy, as it did after the Benghazi assault? Shouldn’t Americans be deeply concerned that the president is reaching for his political attack dogs when he should be consulting our generals and our allies?
Oh, right, we don’t have any allies on this. And no UN backing. But don’t call Barack Obama a “cowboy.”
Now, McCain. The Republican senator who never met a foreign war he didn’t like spent part of yesterday’s hearing playing poker on his phone. His mind was made up. He wants a war and he wants it now. And he wants a big war, so therefore Sen. Lindsey Graham wants a big war too. They want more war than Obama’s limited, mostly pointless symbolic strike. They want to topple Assad.
Toppling Assad is the Obama administration’s stated goal. But it is not the goal of the limited, mostly pointless symbolic strike that John Kerry and Chuck Hagel peddled yesterday.
Obama is proposing limited, largely symbolic strikes and can’t even build an international coalition to support that. “Smart power” — the arrogance of the armchair quarterback — in action. His biggest war booster, McCain, wants a full-blown campaign to push Assad out with no thought given to what Obama would do with Syria afterward. That’s important, is it not? It won’t be a war, John Kerry assures, until Chuck Hagel comes along and calls it a war. There will be no boots on the ground, until Kerry spitballs that if Syria collapses — McCain’s goal — then there might be boots on the ground.
What’s the goal here? Can the president be trusted to tell the truth about what is happening? Are there any adults who mean what they say in charge of any part of this government?
That’s kind of important, isn’t it? Isn’t Obama’s track record of pushing out secular dictators, creating vacuums of power into which Islamists run and take power, important?
Congress should not hand Obama power –cover, really– to strike Syria. If he wants to strike, let him do it alone and own the consequences.