In truth, Obama and many others miscalculated. They believed that Assad’s regime was near the end, misreading both its strength and brutality, but also the level of support it has from several segments of Syrian society.
Then, just about a year ago, came the off-the-cuff remarks about a red line on chemical weapons, insufficiently thought through but now publicly stated and definitive. Since then, American foreign policy towards Syria has largely been concerned about ensuring that Obama’s threat does not seem empty.
After all, what American national interest is being followed? The administration says it is upholding international law. Except, as Fred Kaplan points out, the institutions that embody international law and consensus – the United Nations and other international organizations – do not support this action. The United States plus France and Turkey cannot be considered the embodiment of international law and global public opinion.
The nature of the strike we are told will be short and symbolic – a shot across the bow in the midst of a civil war in which both sides are in a high-stakes struggle for survival, does anyone think this will make any difference?
And then the strangest twist – an unplanned last-minute appeal to Congress, paving the way for further delay, weakening momentum, erasing what little surprise existed, and setting the stage for a potential defeat at home.
I don’t think that this strike, should it eventually take place, will be as damaging as its critics fear. The Assad regime will likely hunker down, take it, and move on. It will make little difference one way or the other. But the manner in which the Obama administration has first created and then mismanaged this crisis will cast a long shadow on America’s role in the world. That’s my view.
Zakaria has been “a staunch supporter of this president from day one, and his criticism Sunday is significant,” Noel Sheppard adds at Newsbusters. “It is therefore going to be very interesting to see if other CNN anchors and commentators will share his view on the air, or if he will be the President’s lone critic on the self-proclaimed ‘most trusted name in news.'”
— Wayne Dupree ✌✊ (@NewsNinja2012) September 1, 2013
I’d say that’ll leave a mark, but this administration is far too cocooned to be introspective.