Obama's Newest, Bestest, Buddy: Bashar Assad
Not really, of course. But, as the Obama administration contemplates conducting air strikes on Islamic State positions in Syria, you might recall what several leading Democrats have said about the dictator that has hekped kill 191,000 of his own people.
In a recent column, the Wall Street Journal’s Bret Stephens recounted some of the paeans to Assad: In a March 2011 interview, Hillary Clinton implied that Assad was a “reformer.” In 2007, Nancy Pelosi, over strong objections from the State Department, visited Syria, and said, “The road to Damascus is a road to peace.” Senator John Kerry predicted that “Syria will change as it embraces a legitimate relationship with the United States.”
Several other prominent Democrats made fools of themselves when visiting Syria, falling all over themselves to praise Assad. Nancy Pelosi actually thought Assad was a key to peace in the region. He is -- but not quite the way that Nancy was thinking. Assad's idea of peace would require the mapmakers of the world to make a slight change on the world's charts; remove the State of Israel.
So perhaps we shouldn't be too surprised that President Obama wants to go after IS in Syria, thus benefiting a man who gassed his own people.
The Obama administration is debating a more robust intervention in Syria, including possible American airstrikes, in a significant escalation of its weeks-long military assault on the Islamic extremist group that has destabilized neighboring Iraq and killed an American journalist, officials said Friday.
While President Obama has long resisted being drawn into Syria’s bloody civil war, officials said recent advances by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria had made clear that it represents a threat to the interests of the United States and its allies. The beheading of James Foley, the American journalist, has contributed to what officials called a “new context” for a challenge that has long divided the president’s team.
Officials said the options include speeding up and intensifying limited American efforts to train and arm moderate Syrian rebel forces that have been fighting both ISIS as well as the government of President Bashar al-Assad. Another option would be to bolster other partners on the ground to take on ISIS, including the Syrian Kurds.
But American officials said they would also take a look at airstrikes by fighter jets and bombers as well as potentially sending Special Operations forces into Syria, like those who tried to rescue Mr. Foley and other hostages on a mission in July. One possibility officials have discussed for Iraq that could be translated to Syria would be a series of unmanned drone strikes targeting ISIS leaders, much like those conducted in Yemen, Somalia and Pakistan.
Whether Mr. Obama would actually authorize a new strategy remained unclear and aides said he has not yet been presented with recommendations. The president has long expressed skepticism that more assertive action by the United States, including arming Syrian rebels as urged in 2011 by Hillary Rodham Clinton, then the secretary of state, would change the course of the civil war there. But he sent out a top adviser on Friday to publicly hint at the possibility a day after the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said ISIS could not be defeated without going after it in Syria.
Wait a minute, Mr. President. Aren't you forgetting something? No, not your golf clubs. I'm talking about deferring to Congress to authorize the expanded military action.
As a former constitutional law professor, you probably remember that it's Congress that declares war in this country. I know such details aggravate you, and I know how much Congress irritates you. But really, Mr. President. Couldn't we just this once do things by the book -- or rather our founding document -- and not wing it like you always do?
Saying we're not assisting Assad by bombing IS in Syria is like saying you didn't cheat on your wife because the woman you had sex with didn't mean anything to you. It may be true but it's not the point. I'm sure the Syrian rebels will appreciate our splitting hairs on this one.