President Obama's move to punt the decision on whether to attack Syria to Congress is a face-saving gesture by the commander-in-chief, who is dogged by his unfortunate remark about "redlines" and "moving a bunch of chemical weapons."
It's now up to Obama's unlikely ally House Speaker John Boehner to bail out the prestige of the Office of the President and maintain America's credibility among oversees friends, rivals and enemies. The Ohio Republican achieves those goals by winning Congressional approval for the bombing of Syria's chemical/military installations.
Obama caught a break today after Boehner said: "I'm going to support the president's call for action. I believe my colleagues should support this call for action.
"We have enemies around the world that need to understand that we're not going to tolerate this type of behavior."
Boehner though created some wiggle room for himself, saying via a statement that it will be an "uphill battle" to pass the bombing measure through the Tea Party-packed Congress.
While PR suspense mounts in D.C., the well-respected International Crisis Group reports that any U.S. military strike are "largely divorced from the interests of the Syrian people."
ICG's statement of Sept. 2 says though a U.S. air attack "might discourage future use of chemical weapons," it will have no impact if a desperate Syrian government finds itself fighting for survival.
ICR notes that Obama has stated that the U.S. focus is not in overturning the Assad regime. It believes Syria's leadership will register a post-attack propaganda victory "claiming it had stood fast against the U.S. and rallying domestic and regional opinion around an anti-Western, anti-imperialist mantra."
Following the U.S. military attack, the Syrian government will hardly be in the mood to negotiate a diplomatic settlement to the mess, according to the ICR. "Carefully calibrating the strike to hurt enough to change their calculations but not enough to prompt retaliation or impede diplomacy is appealing in theory. In practice, it almost certainly is not feasible," says the think tank.
In the event Congress approves the President's plan, the impact will have more of a positive impact on political Washington than in Syria. It will be a win based on PR vs. substance.
Bill Huey (Sep. 9, 2013): A huge part of the dilemma here is lack of preparation and laying the groundwork/predicate for punitive action if Assad used chemical weapons or anything else in the Dictator toolbox. Now we're trying to figure it out on the fly, and people are waffling all over the place.
We should have month-by-month scenarios on what we will do if this happens, or that shifts, or this guy gets knocked off, makes a serious threat, etc.
What the hell are they doing in the Pentagon and the at NSA? Each service branch has its own intelligence agency, and then there is the Defense Intelligence Agency, the NSA's own intelligence agency, etc.
Personally, even though I am well aware that "little wars lead to big wars," as Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez put it on "Meet the Press," I say IF there is irrefutable proof, fire away. If we don't stand for banning the use of chemical weapons then what do we stand for?
Joe Honick, GMA International (Sep. 4, 2013): To my highly respected friend, Art: you are correct about the pre WWII circumstance, HOWEVER, there is no comparison. Fact is, despite American isolationism, FDR was successful in developing the Lend Lease program to assist Churchill in overcoming his own British isolationism. So, unless you see missiling Assad as a means of avoid a major world conflict, it's necessary to rethink the idea. Fact is the world has stood by while more than 2 million poor folks in Somalia were done in and in other places we seem not to calculate as "important", how do we get deputized to put ourselves at risk here? How do we calculate the effectiveness of such a strike. Most important: is there any apparent or cryptic strategy or plan for what comes afterward. If anyone has that information, the American taxpayer and Armed Forces members are entitled to it. Why are so few even demanding this information?
Ronald N. Levy (Sep. 4, 2013): It's wrong to kill people but if the winner will be them or us I favor us. A pyrrhic win is better than a loss, and saving 100 million or more lives is better than losing them.
Even the International Crisis Group admits that a U.S. air
attack "might discourage the future use of chemical weapons." It might also, common sense tells us, discourage the future use by Iran and North Korea of nuclear weapons.
Each of us can easily judge which sense--fairness or fear--gets more drivers to stay withi the speed limit, gets adults to stay away from narcotics or drinking too much, and whether fairness or fear is more likely to persuade Syria and Iran not to use chemical and nuclear weapons.
Whether or not one agrees that the world's six billion people are God's children and deserve not to be killed by chemical and nuclear weapons, most of us may agree that the U.S. should try to prevent such killing.
When the lives of our families are threatened as they are today by chemical and nuclear weapons in unstable hands, we have incentive to tell Syria and Iran frankly: "Don't endanger us because if our choice is between your safety and the safety of our families, you'll lose. Work for your health and standard of living, we'll gladly help you, but don't endanger us. We care more about our families than about you. Stone your own police if you want but don't point a gun at us."
arthursolomon (Sep. 4, 2013): To my PR colleagues: The world stood still when Winston Churchill warned the world about appeasing the Nazis before WW2. And look what it led to. The world stood still when the Nazis began gassing its own citizens and those in the rest of Europe. And it led to the Holocaust.
The American public stood still when an isolationist Congress blocked FDR from uniting with Cburchill to stop the Nazis advance before it over ran Europe. And that led to Japan bombing a "paper tiger" US.
And now, on this website, the world is reading the isolationist and appeasement comments of my colleagues regarding Syria. Luckily for the world, we are just PR people and very few people believe that PR people speak the truth. So maybe there is hope to stop evil.
Joe Honick, GMA International (Sep. 4, 2013): As the latest stork clouds gather for our armed forces in the Middle East, perhaps it is time to take stock of our OVERALL INTRUSION EFFICIENCY INDEX, to wit:
10 years ago, we mounted an invasion to save Iraq from its terrible leader whom we had installed with lots of goodies from Mr Reagan., and to bring democracy to that beleaguered nation and rid it of something called WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION. At the time, our intel operations were just as sure of those things as they are today about who flung the chemical stuff at the Syrian rebels. When we found or rather could not find those WMD's, we figured, what the hell, were already here, might as well keep going, and it's damned good for defense contractors anyhow. Then on a lovely day, our then President proudly stood on a ship in a safe New Jsrsey Harbor and declared: MISSION ACCOMPLISHED! So could ditch Iraq and leave it to the bombers and oil giants and move on to Afghanistan where we had manfully driven out the Russians who could not have been happier to be rid of the place, leaving us to fight for something we have yet to understand as our national interest.
Of course there is much more to this tale of our INTRUSION EFFICIENCY INDEX, given we have had no identifiable strategic plan for what we do after wee do the intruding....since there has been no revelation of what we will do after we slap Assad's hands and leave lots of Middle Easter residents wondering precisely why and what we will do now.
Do we simply "hit and run"? Do we somehow muster from a bunch of tired warriors who have been deployed and redeployed wars in Iraq and Afghanistan some kind of military sans any draft...to do something if Assad does not capitulate?