Even before Obama’s disastrous Press Conference About Nothing today which gave us more insights into his utterly vacuous thinking and lack of strategic vision, the usual suspects on the left lined up to help him out of the hole he has dug for himself.
One of those, naturally, is William Saletan of Slate. In defense of the incoherent foreign policy of the Obama administration, Saletan tries to pull on his big boy pants and sound tough:
The better reason to hit Syria is colder and simpler: If Bashar al-Assad doesn’t pay for gassing his people, he and others are more likely to use weapons of mass destruction again. To discourage that, we have to make him suffer.
But to continue to hold onto his fringe-left club card he has to find someway to blame President Bush.
Nobody wants another Iraq. Iraq is why we don’t trust our intelligence agencies when they tell us Assad used chemical weapons. Iraq is why we dread another invasion. But our mistakes in Iraq also conceal the perils of the road not taken. What would have happened if Saddam’s defiance of the U.N. inspectors had gone unpunished? What would other regimes have concluded about the world’s willingness to police the development and use of weapons of mass destruction?
Just to refresh Saletan’s memory let’s revisit what we did to Iraq between 1992 and 2003. We establish no-fly zones over at least half of Iraq and regularly targeted any actions by anti-aircraft batteries. When inspectors were expelled in 1998 we initiated an air campaign aimed at, wait for it, punishing Saddam Hussein. All the while Iraq was under trade and financial sanctions, a policy that Slate editorialized against as ineffective and counterproductive.
The decision to invade Iraq was the result of the sanctions regime beginning to fail in the face of a coordinated public relations campaign sponsored by the left, one that downplayed Saddam’s aggressiveness and brutality. The invasion of Iraq was the end of a failed 11 year program of, in Saletan’s words, inflicting pain on Saddam.
Contrary to Saletan’s assertion, Obama is not threatening to make Assad “pay” for his alleged use of chemical weapons. In fact, he has said Assad will not be a target, we are not trying to overthrow him, and:
One U.S. official who has been briefed on the options on Syria said he believed the White House would seek a level of intensity “just muscular enough not to get mocked” but not so devastating that it would prompt a response from Syrian allies Iran and Russia.
I use the word alleged deliberately. To date there is zero forensic evidence that chemical weapons were used. They may have been but one would think whatever “rebel” force controlling the area of the strikes would have made a priority of getting blood, tissue, and soil samples to the West rather than YouTube videos. If chemical weapons were used, we don’t know for a fact who employed them as the “rebels” have been accused of using them in the past. Further, we really don’t know whether the weapons were used as a result of an order from Assad (in my view unlikely for a whole host of reasons from the target chosen — totally irrelevant from a tactical or strategic viewpoint — and his knowledge of the repercussions.) or a local commander decided it would be fun.
Saletan’s final zinger is:
If you don’t want a military strike in Syria, fine. Make your case for sanctions or some other alternative. Whatever you propose doesn’t have to save Assad’s people. But it had better hurt him.
What is being contemplated, under a best case scenario, is what did not work in Iraq even when combined with a vigorous international sanctions regime. There is a word for trying the same thing over and over in hopes of achieving a different result but it escapes me at that moment.
Nothing proposed by Obama, or by Saletan, will hurt Assad. Some of his troops will be killed. Inevitably we will kill innocent civilians. He will stay in power and will not even have to worry about being a target. If he uses chemical weapons again, he knows the extremely low price he will have to pay.
To be clear, what we heard today from Captain Bull****, and what this article by Saletan represents, is nothing but a shallow political ploy. Obama is going to toss the issue to the Congress, hope (as I do) that they do nothing, and then blame them for every successive atrocity. This is not a strategy aimed at Syria or the Middle East. It is aimed at the 2014 elections. It is a strategy that will fail because most Americans clearly see that Syria is irrelevant to our security and Obama’s plan does nothing to remedy the situation there, but Obama is hardly a political savant.
Saletan’s essay is just another example of him acting as a butt-remora for Obama and any other administration toad that gives him a work assignment. It is, to paraphrase Winston Churchill, nonsense wrapped in stupidity inside of bull****.