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War for Credibility

War for Credibility

Caroline Glick’s article on Obama and Syria sums up the situation quite nicely—although “nicely” is hardly the proper word, because it makes for very sobering reading indeed:

It is important to note that despite the moral depravity of the regime’s use of chemical weapons, none of America’s vital interests is impacted by their use within Syria. Obama’s pledge last year to view the use of chemical weapons as a tripwire that would automatically cause the US to intervene militarily in the war in Syria was made without relation to any specific US interest.

But once Obama made his pledge, other US interests became inextricably linked to US retaliation for such a strike. The interests now on the line are America’s deterrent power and strategic credibility. If Obama responds in a credible way to Syria’s use of chemical weapons, those interests will be advanced. If he does not, US deterrent power will become a laughing stock and US credibility will be destroyed.

Unfortunately, the US doesn’t have many options for responding to Assad’s use of chemical weapons…

Please read the whole thing.

The only part of Glick’s analysis with which I’d disagree is that I think that US deterrent power has already become a laughing stock and US credibility been destroyed. The Obama administration has certainly accentuated and underlined and solidified this impression around the world, but it actually had already begun to occur in the final years of the Bush administration.

Obama’s 2008 election was a symptom of this change rather than an initial cause. As the aftermath of the Iraq war and the American presence in that country wore on, and the MSM and many politicians in both the US and Britain and western Europe relentlessly pressed the liberal/left line against that endeavor, public opinion in the Western world had turned against our efforts in Iraq and against further intervention and engagement of a similar nature. The US seemed to lack the will to go on, and it was just a matter of time before the enterprise would be abandoned.

Obama’s present waffling, red-line braggadocio, lack of focus on US interests and goals, and abandonment of allies is just icing on a cake that has been a long time in the mixing and baking. That doesn’t mean that things couldn’t change at some future point, especially after Obama is out of office; consider what happened in England during the buildup to World War II—first appeasement, and then Churchill’s resolve energizing the will of the people. But it doesn’t look likely, and even if it occurred it would take a long time to rebuild the trust that has been destroyed.

That does not mean that Obama is absolved of responsibility. On the contrary; he’s been working at this goal of disappointing allies, decreasing the influence and credibility of the US, and appeasing terrorists and Iran for a long time now, long before he became president. And he’s been helped by most of the Democrats in Congress and the majority of journalists.

[Neo-neocon is a writer with degrees in law and family therapy, who blogs at neo-neocon.]


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Calling Obama’s election a symptom of the decline of US credibility (and therefore power) is a good point.

One other point where I would disagree however is in the common belief that he has been intentionally reducing our world wide role. Given who we are dealing with, it seems to me far more likely that he arrives at that justification after the fact.

The real reason for his hesitant policies and tendency to make the US seem disinterested in having a role is because Obama, himself, is disinterested in world events. They don’t capture his imagination or give him reason to believe that they will exalt him in the world’s eyes. Therefore he simply does not care.

In Syria, because people are laughing at him, he DOES care. He wants to make himself look sort of like a man of his word, a tough guy to be reckoned with. So he does some saber rattling. But only some. Wouldn’t want to over do it and have people call him mean names.

    RickCaird in reply to irv. | August 31, 2013 at 5:28 pm

    I think Irv is correct on this. Obama is a playground bully uttering threats and since he promised a response, he thinks he has to do something, no matter how wrong or ineffective. Powerline seems to think Obama will get Congressional approval. I don’t.

      I too agree with Irv and with you about the vote in Congress. Obama has no interest at all in international politics and made it clear with his very first acts as president that he had a different point of view on who our allies are. He offended both the Brits and Canada in his first week and then went on to kow-tow to our enemies, particularly the communists and Islamists.

      I also agree that Congress will not vote to approve attacking Syria (92% of Americans are against it, that’s even less popular than Congress itself), that it will be clear very quickly that this is the case and that Obama will attack anyway. Everyone is assuming that he has taken his finger off of the trigger for now but has he? He make it very clear that he doesn’t recognize Congress’s constitutional authority on this matter but will stoop to seek their approval so we can have a debate (for the public good).

      The best outcome at this point would be for Obama to do nothing and then have Congress vote him down. This entire situation is a disaster already. Obama and his same-sex senator collaborators McCain and Graham allowed themselves to get played by the Russians and Islamists. It’s Russia that should have its neck in the noose, not the US. That could be corrected if Obama doesn’t attack but with serious loss of face and credibility. That is why I believe Obama is going to attack and before Congress returns.

Has everyone forgotten the WMD debacle in Iraq?

It may very well be these chemical weapons were from the “missing” WMD’s that everyone said were there, but conveniently used as an excuse to scapegoat Bush when they were not found.

Now, we have a situation as to which SIDE used them, or even if they were used at all? (There is still some debate as to the veracity of the claims). So do we go to war or a claim that is still in debate? The kneejerk reaction to yellow journalism is still ever valid. But as a veteran, I can tell you this. War is an option that politicians love to bandy, but soldiers are the ones to pay the price.

Let’s not forgot this in this on-going debate.

    Phillep Harding in reply to Paul. | August 30, 2013 at 7:22 pm

    I was flashing on 1998 when the Democrats and the Left were mouthing off about how we had to remove Saddam Hussein, principally because of his use of WMDs. Same noise re: Syria.

      RickCaird in reply to Phillep Harding. | August 31, 2013 at 5:29 pm

      It would not surprise me at all if these were the Iraqi chemical weapons. There is a strong likelihood they were moved to Syria prior to the invasion.

I have been pounding away on the ‘CIA said WMDs’ much of the day on twitter.

Though stated in passing in the article, the majority of the blame for America’s present situation rests with the Liberal Media who both put pressure on Bush and got Obama elected.

The Liberal Media is the tail who is wagging the dog.

Just when you thought you had a handle on this Syrian “thing” along comes …

The U.S. military, struggling after defense cuts of tens of billions of dollars, will be unable to pay for attacks on Syria from current operating funds and must seek additional money from Congress, according to congressional aides.

    Paul in reply to Neo. | August 30, 2013 at 9:45 pm

    Oh, a little side step around the debt ceiling debate, eh? These arrogant nitwits in the administration are full of surprises, no?

Is it possible this is just a ploy to allow the president to put a request for military action to the congress and watch it get shot down? He would get the advantage of passing any blame about not intervening to the Republicans, while keeping his base happy about not going into another war.

BannedbytheGuardian | August 30, 2013 at 8:13 pm

Oh yeah go for it .

It does open up a case for Vietnam to sue the US for multiple chemical attacks.

Obama is a laughing stock around the world but Putin described him to a tee when he called him a monkey with a hand grenade. Not a laughing matter.God save the world, we have a moron with nuclear missiles.

OnTheLeftCoast | August 30, 2013 at 9:21 pm

Is there any evidence that Obama would take effective action to keep Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons? In 2012, the following made the Jerusalem Post:

US President Barack Obama reportedly sent a secret message to Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei expressing a willingness to accept an Iranian civilian nuclear program if Iran can prove it will not pursue nuclear weapons, The Washington Post reported…

Maybe Obama is maneuvering Israel to be forced to go it alone on Iranian nukes. Then, even if the operation goes extremely well, US reaction goes something like:
“Flouted will of international community for the last time. Unacceptable loss of civilian life. We’ll make BDS look good. Internationalize Jerusalem. Immediate Palestinian state, contiguous W Bank and Gaza. Too bad, so sad, this’ll teach you.”

Henry Hawkins | August 30, 2013 at 10:02 pm

I marvel at an “international community” wherein chemical weapons are horrifying but napalm is approved for military targets.

    BannedbytheGuardian in reply to Henry Hawkins. | August 30, 2013 at 10:24 pm

    What was it they used on The Iraqui troops retreating back in the gulf war ?

    I met a Texan woman whose son was in the first wave of attackers. When he returned she said he was never the same & used to describe the Iraquis just melting. I say used to because he drove himself off a cliff at 26.

    The suppliers for the Iran Iraq war on both sides must hold some responsibility for the chem warfare there but we all cheered.& thought it was great fun.

From my post earlier this week . . .

“The die was cast five years ago when the United States walked away from Iraq after the “war” was virtually won. It was a mistake of colossal proportions. The hard work was done, relative peace and calm had settled in, and the country had begun the difficult work of establishing a political mechanism for working out its internal differences. Geopolitically a reduced, continued presence in a peaceful Iraq would have ensured a high degree of peace for that country and stabilized the region.

No one will argue that problems, difficult problems, would not have continued in the region but there would have been leverage–American, Iraqi, Israeli, Egyptian, Gulf state, and yes, Saudi leverage–available to manage them, piecemeal, as they arose, without massive human tragedy and reducing the region to rubble.”

The only comments worth adding are:
1) the WMD story is still being tortured a decade later, even here; everyone believed WMDs were a real threat then and the last word and facts from ten years ago have still not been heard.
2) America is no longer what she thinks she is. Obama’s election is not a symptom of the country’s nature and character, it is a reflection of them. Consistent, defining characteristics of his five years in office, people in his administration and, we are finding everywhere in government, are constant open flaunting of the law, elitism, deception, fraud, corruption, cronyism, political muscle and intimidation, and outright lying – all unanswered despite continuous howls of outrage from a toothless, posturing, complicit congress. He is a reflection of the country today. His election is a consequence of the change, not a symptom.

Someone convince me that he wouldn’t be re-elected tomorrow if he ran.

    NeoConScum in reply to Owego. | August 31, 2013 at 3:19 pm

    The thousands of Kurd civilians lying dead from Saddam’s WMD(Nerve Gas)didn’t get anything more than a stern finger wag from Billy Boy Clinton and–AFTER Osama bin-Laden declared war on America and the Jews in ’98–he chose NOT to sniper kill the Islamist when he had the literal crosshaired opportunity.

    The bullshit “Narrative” of the Dems, Libs, Left, Academia, MSM, etc. ad nauseum of the Iraq War that began in 2003 is lies, assumptions based on lies, moral flotsam and group-idiot-think. The Great(and recently late)Jean Bethke Elshtain’s wonderfully succenct little book published in ’03 is even MORE valuable today than 10-years ago: “Just War Against Terror:The Burdin of American Power in a Violent World”. So many IDIOTS and Moral Cowards; So many wet holes in the sand.

    Are we not blessed?

It’s a good sign that Americans can no longer be led down the “garden path.” Assad has been fighting to KEEP his country. And, it’s been the saud’s. Who fund the rebels. Who’ve been looking to take over land that’s NOT in Saudi Arabia!

It’s an amazing thing that 9/11 brought us nothing but the loss of our liberty! And, while it’s true that Dubya got the ball rolling … when you look at his presidency … you see it’s collapse. From the high approval rating (following 9/11), set at 86%. All the way to the decline by the time he left office.

Israel, meanwhile, is a “bargaining chip” to Obama. You don’t know what parts of Israel he’d like to carve up. But Israel should be as focused on it’s own country’s territory, as Assad has been on Syrian territory! The UN, and it’s crayon marks makes no sense at all.

And, what Americans, in the majority, did learn from Irak and Afghanistan, is that it’s not in our interests to fight “over there.” Or to take on the role of the world’s policeman.

I agree that American credibility has been destroyed, but it is over more than the last two Administrations.

Beginning with our conduct of and exit from the Vietnam War, the Mayaguez, the failed Eagle Claw rescue mission, the premature end of the Gulf War, Clinton’s lackluster foreign policies, Bush’s early conduct of Iraq and Afghanistan, and Obama’s fecklessness have all contributed to a different attitude among the bad guys in the world. Congresses along the way bear responsibility as well.

Obama is weak and making us weaker and less respected, but he didn’t invent making us weaker and less respected.

    Vascaino in reply to Estragon. | August 31, 2013 at 3:29 pm

    The point when credibility was totally lost was, in 1983, when the US failed to respond to the killing of its Marines in Beirut convincing the Iranians who had just formed their Foreign Legion (Hezbollah) that Carter wasn’t a one off president.
    Unfortunately Reagan’s advisors (Baker, Weinberger and papa Bush)did not understand the region’s culture and sects.
    Today we witness once more the cognitive egocentrism displayed in trying to come to terms with these societies.
    The Iranians were not blind to the fact that America was paying more attention to bashing Israel’s Sharon than to what the Shiites had done to its soldiers.

You know, it’d sure be helpful if we had a couple of divisions of combat hardened troops just across a land border from Syria. Yep. Sure would have been helpful.

Here is another “must read” covering the same territory from “Zero Hedge”.

What Obama/McCain/Graham are doing is pure lawlessness under all standards of the law, international and domestic. We must not take this NEW path for America.

Shouldn’t this be going in the other direction?

Syria is Russia’s client state. That Syrians are being gassed by someone, probably Al Qaeda (BTW why are the neocons among us so quick to accept Obama’s flimsy “proof”?), is Russia’s problem. WE are the ones who should be holding THEIR feet to the fire. But because our entire corrupt one-party government is so hopelessly stuck on stupid, advantage Russia.

We’ve had four straight disastrous presidents. It’s got to stop. We need to find a way to take our country back from the dirty globalist money that sees EVERYTHING in the world as worthy of wasting American money and lives. We should all be reading Mark Levin’s “Liberty Amendments”. We (all Americans) desperately need to retake control of our government.

Is this a sign that there are some patriotic “Oath Takers” at the Pentagon? This is the most unlawful exercise that has ever been ordered by any US government. If there has ever been a time for our military to not obey an unlawful order, this is it.

Interesting that included among the “White House” of those peeved at the leaks, those most peeved are our same-sex senators McCain and Graham.

The entire world holds us–Under the Obama Admin.–in complete contempt. Who wouldn’t?! Our enemies–for innumerable demonstrated reasons–don’t fear us and our friends(Great Britain!!!)don’t trust us.

American Electorate: Thanks Much for Nov.6, 2012, Folks. ‘In a nation of infants, Santa Claus won’.
In this case Santa possesses a Vast Testicular Concavity.

NEVER have I FEARED for my country as I have since November 7th.

    Keep in mind that they world help us in complete contempt under Bush 43 too. Also, the entire GOP leadership signed off today on Obama’s outrageous strategy and plans. Today we witnessed the American version of the day when Paul Von Hindenberg appointed Hitler as dictator of Germany.

    Hitler had garnered only 30% of the popular vote yet was handed power by the guy who won the election. Kind of like the Boehner being handed the Speakership by the Tea Party in 2010 and then going on to assign his constitutional powers to Obama. This is a day of shame for the country but particularly the GOP who despite having the means to stop it, chose to EMBRACE it.

      NeoConScum in reply to Pasadena Phil. | August 31, 2013 at 3:36 pm

      See my 3:19pm comment to Owego above. Almost’Nuff said, but just a note on the tiresome, SOP and entirely incorrect taking of President Bush’s measure. He was feared and respected by our enemies and TRUSTED by our friends. Look up Sarkozy’s assessment and fondness for ‘W’. Our Warriors didn’t just respect his leadership;they LOVED and honored that Strong Leader. Our friends the Israelis knew for a fact that they’d never had a greater friend and know just as certainly the opposite of His Infantile Majesty. The MASSIVE and hard won victory in Iraq was ABANDONED by The Boy King in very short order from January 20, 2009. Example One for the world to take his early measure.