Anyone who watched Secretary of State Kerry’s speech about Syria on Friday was convinced that sometime before the G20 summit on Thursday the US Action against Syria would have not only begun but would be well over. In 24 hours between Kerry’s drumbeat of war and the Presidents shocking declaration that any action would be delayed until Congress had a chance to approve action the week of Sept 9th, the president realized its hard to lead from behind when you’re all alone.
In the end it doesn’t matter why the president changed his mind because his announcement today made this country less safe and gave the terrorist entities in the Middle East another reason to believe this president did not have the resolve to take action against Syria, Iran or any other rogue entity in the Middle East.
In the Middle East apparent strength and resolve is more important than actual strength, on Saturday they saw the United States as weak.
Yesterday, Syria’s government mocked Mr. Obama’s decision, saying it was a sign of weakness. A state-run newspaper, Al Thawra, called it “the start of the historic American retreat,” and said Mr. Obama had hesitated because of a “sense of implicit defeat and the disappearance of his allies,” along with fears that an intervention could become “an open war.”
And what happens if Congress, like the British Parliament, votes against any
military action against Syria? It would undermine whatever little is left of Obama’s credibility and U.S.
power/influence, and it would implicitly authorize governments around
the world to ignore the United States as they please. It certainly tells Syria it is free to use the very weapons Obama is trying to stop.
Worse still, Obama’s symbolic tomahawk strike if it even happens, will change nothing on the ground. Assad will emerge unscathed, declare that even the mighty U.S. can’t stop him, and and the civil war will continue, perhaps with the Assad forces emboldened and the morale of the opposition destroyed.
Obama’s weakness makes it more likely that Iran hasten the pace of it nuclear weapon development, and an Israeli attack on Iran makes more likely:
Last year, Obama assured Israelis that he would “always have Israel’s back”. Now Netanyahu is reassuring them they can manage without uncertain U.S. protection against Iran, which has called for Israel’s destruction but denies developing nuclear weapons.
“Israel’s citizens know well that we are prepared for any possible scenario,” the hawkish prime minister said. “And Israel’s citizens should also know that our enemies have very good reasons not to test our power and not to test our might.”
That may not reassure a U.S. administration which has tried to steer Netanyahu away from unilateral action against Iran that could stir yet more chaos in the already explosive Middle East.
Israel’s state-run Army Radio was more explicit: “If Obama is hesitating on the matter of Syria,” it said, “Then clearly on the question of attacking Iran, a move that is expected to be far more complicated, Obama will hesitate much more – and thus the chances Israel will have to act alone have increased.”
From the very beginning Obama’s move toward war with Syria had more to do with protecting Obama’s honor than any punishment of Assad for using WMDs. His beating of the war drums reached its peak with Kerry’s speech on Friday, the sudden turnaround on Saturday makes this president and the United States seem feckless and weak. In the Middle East, weak leadership makes war more likely.