The president addressed the nation last night and tried to thread a needle.
As expected he made his case for a military response against the Assad regime in order to send a clear message that the use of chemical weapons will not be tolerated. At the same time he called for patience to allow a developing diplomatic solution the time to gain traction.
He called for his congressional friends on the right and on the left to support his decision to use military force. Then he asked them to hold off on their vote to give diplomacy a chance. Earlier in the day the president met privately with congressional leaders urging them to postpone their vote…a vote he knew that he was certain to lose… so as not to undercut him in the eyes of the world.
The president’s policy on Syria has taken a very circuitous route toward its current position of being backed into a corner. Given the hand that he has dealt himself, last night’s speech was probably the best he could do.
Overall the reviews from the chattering class are not good. We’ll leave it to others to parse each word.
Our take away is as follows.
Last night the president pushed the reset button. He gave the world a chance to develop a diplomatic solution to the Syrian conflict while holding the threat of military intervention over its head. If diplomacy is successful then it is a win win for humanity. If diplomacy fails he can always intervene militarily. And next time he won’t wait for congressional approval.
The hawks won’t take kindly to this strategy. Relying on the evil Putin to broker a peaceful settlement is not their idea of strong American leadership.
The doves won’t like it either. In their view holding the threat of military intervention as a bargaining chip is never acceptable.
It is time for the country to learn that America’s influence in world affairs is waning. We can no longer go it alone. America’s military might cannot solve the world’s problems.
Today marks the 12th anniversary of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. In the aftermath of that horrible day, America unleashed upon its enemies the full force and fury of its military might. Al Qaeda has been decimated, Bin Laden is dead, Hussein is dead, and Gadhaffi is dead, Afghanistan has returned to the second century haven for terrorism that it once was, and Iran has filled the power vacuum in Iraq. Thousands of American lives lost…to what end.
We have been at war for twelve years and the Middle East looks very much today as it did on 9/11/2001…a region in conflict threatening to boil over into a worldwide conflagration. The lesson here is that we are powerless to stop it by ourselves.
The key to a new world order in the Middle East lies in Syria, Iran and Israel/Palestine. They are all interconnected. A long term solution cannot be found at the tip of a cruise missile.
The key to worldwide peace is the world’s involvement in creating that peace.
The sooner we learn that lesson the better.
The president tried to thread that needle last night.
Under the circumstances he did the best that he could do.