Monday, September 2, 2013

US Loses the Will to Lead

by Dan Margalit

If the U.S. had concurrently announced that Syrian President Bashar Assad had used chemical weapons and that an American military response would be contingent on congressional approval, then there would have been no big problem. But U.S. President Barack Obama himself believed that he did not need the backing of his legislature for a punitive strike against the mass murderer Assad. Obama publicly set red lines for Assad and the Syrian ruler brazenly violated them.

Obama's desire to receive congressional support for military action is somewhat understandable. In 1964, Lyndon B. Johnson got Congress to approve the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, which enabled Johnson to escalate U.S. military involvement in Vietnam. Obama wants his own Gulf of Tonkin Resolution. So be it.

But during the worldwide diplomatic campaign that preceded his speech on Saturday, did Obama ever mention the possibility that he would ask for congressional support for a military strike against Syria? If he intended to do so all along, why didn't he say so from the start? The idea of relying on congressional support arose belatedly. It is an excuse. With his words and cursory decisions, Obama is undermining America's status as the world's sole superpower.

If the phrase "patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel" is true, then in this instance it is also right to say that Congress is the last refuge of the vacillator. Congress did not demand the authority to decide on a military strike against Syria. But Obama has now forced American legislators to make a decision on matter of which their professional understanding is limited and their views are partly fueled by irrelevant political considerations.

Obama is a carbon copy of America's 39th president, Jimmy Carter. They both had delusional ideas, like the "Arab Spring." Carter allowed the Shah of Iran Mohammad Reza Pahlavi (who was indeed a tyrant) to fall in 1979, and Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini rose to power. To this day, Iran still threatens to lead humanity into Armageddon. Meanwhile, Obama had a hand in the 2011 ouster of then-Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and is currently making life difficult for Col. Gen. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi by bizarrely supporting the Muslim Brotherhood. Everything that Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohammed Morsi represents stands in stark contrast to America's heritage.

Nations that have joined the world's enlightened and democratic community, for which the U.S. provides the umbrella, since World War II now face a two-fold problem.

The first tough element of the problem is that the U.S. has lost its will to fulfill its duties as a superpower. It was this American weakness that led Britain, Canada and Germany to jump ship ahead of an attack on Syria. And the second, and even graver, component of the problem is that America's evasion of carrying out an strike on Syria took place not after silence by the president, but rather after he had set red lines for Assad, the violation of which were supposed to constitute a casus belli.

Obama has asked the world -- and Israel -- to trust that he will not let Iran develop nuclear weapons. The president has called on Israel to make compromises, pledging that he would have its back, but what good are his promises? Even if the U.S. launches a limited strike on Assad in another 10 or 12 days, that would only partially repair the damage that has been done.

Dan Margalit


Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

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