Obama has surrendered. NBC reports, "Obama will seek Congressional approval before any military action against Syria". Strikes would be "effective tomorrow or next week or one month from now," the President was quoted as saying.
As I wrote upon hearing that the British had pulled out of his 'limited but decisive' symbolic gesture: "it's over. ... Now, with Britain out of the operation, Obama faces the prospect of going into Syria almost literally alone, without the UN, NATO, Congress, or even the UK to back him up. Two courses are now open to him. He can climb down as best he can and pretend he’s changed his mind or he can go forward risking a wider war for nothing."
It just took him that many more hours to realize that Steiner was not coming.
But the crisis has not yet ended. It's just moved from Syria to Washington. There is now a power vacuum in Washington. For either there's a new President Obama -- one who has learned to share power not only with the other branches, but also with other points of view within America -- or a new President in the manner of Gerald Ford after Nixon left. The old omnipotent President Obama, able to make the seas fall, the child of the world uniquely equipped to build bridges everywhere, answerable only to himself, is gone.
As America's leader the old Obama handed Syria, Russia and Iran and huge victory. Gave it to them on a platter with his vaunting, invincible stupidity. In the process, not only has he shot America in the foot on the world stage but he will have emboldened the Ayatollahs to forge ahead with their nuclear ambitions. He will have encouraged Russia to make a comeback in the region. We will shortly feel these effects in Egypt, Iran and even in Europe.
He has also destroyed himself. It was painful to watch, even to those who had no particular fondness for him. There is always something inexpressibly sad about seeing a great thing die, whether it is a ship, a whale, an enfeebled giant, or a puffed up fantasy. And his "friends", so obsequious in his salad days, were silently tiptoeing toward the door has he self-destructed. Nile Gardiner at the Telegraph mused over why Hillary Clinton was "remarkably silent on Syria".
One voice in Washington that has been remarkably absent from this week’s Syria debate has been that of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The frontrunner for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, Mrs. Clinton hasn’t said anything at all about President Obama’s plans for military strikes against the dictatorship in Damascus. As someone who dominated the US foreign policy landscape over the past four years, Clinton’s silence on Syria is striking. What explains this?
What explains it is she could see the ship going down, as Gardiner himself concluded. " Her own handling of the Syria crisis was a spectacular failure, as has been President Obama's. The last thing she needs in the lead-up to her inevitable White House run is a reminder to Americans of her poor track record as Secretary of State, from the Syrian debacle to the farcical Russian reset. Syria is a liability for Clinton in 2016, and with good reason she is nervous about what happens next."
What happens next? That is indeed the question. If Obama can reinvent himself as the President of the United States of America; if he can throw out all the hacks in his office who have led him to this sorry pass; if he can learn from his mistakes and start to think strategically, then the setback will be merely temporary. He will emerge much more formidable than he is now.
But if he persists then this is merely the first and the smallest of an unending string of defeats. If he continues with the pretense no one now believes he will only succeed in making a fool of himself. But until a new Obama emerges or he heads for the links, the Oval Office is only half tenanted; there's no one in the White House -- and the enemies of America will scent this.
Nobody ever beat arithmetic. Nothing has ever beat reality. The Narrative 0, The Truth 1.
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