Painted into a Corner, Obama Ponders Cosmetic Strikes
Published on: August 30, 2013
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  • rheddles

    If Obama fails to gain congressional authorization for his action, will his order to the military to conduct operations in Syria be legal? If illegal, need it be obeyed? If not obeyed, what action would be taken? If court martial, could the defendant seek removal to civilian courts due to undue command influence? Not all the bad things that could happen are in the Middle East.

  • bpuharic

    Wow. All over the board and still no message.

    We lost credibility when conservatives got 4400 US troops killed and spent 2 trillion in Iraq with NO success.In case no one’s told you guys, THAT little fiasco DID have some consequences for our credibility.

    Neville Chamberlain? OK let’s set the Godwin’s law violation aside, indirect though it is, and see what our options are. “Assad must go”? Gee. Our options are rather limited.

    Garfinkle, WRM and the rest of the baying right wing horde have to understand one thing:

    There are dreams that can not be there are some storms we can not weather

    Some events are out of our control. Even the rabid right tried, with ALL the might of the US in Iraq to effect regime change. It went nowhere since Islamist fundamentalism, like Christian fundamentalism, is a suicidal poison that people are HAPPY to drink.

    Stay out of it. This is NOT our fight. You guys can blame Obama all you want for your failures, but the fact is


    US troops have died in wars started by Obama

    And That, ladies and gentlemen, is a SUCCESS

    • Tom

      It is also true that zero US troops died in wars started by Herbert Hoover.

  • USNK2

    Mr. Garfinkle mentions endocrine systems.
    I have been wondering if the USA could somehow deploy whatever it is that has neutered so many American men that ads for cures for ‘Low-T’ are now mainstream.
    btw, the Elmore Leonard-inspired drama “Justified” had the best ‘punchline’ for that feeling when Nick Searcy’s character Art Mullen, opined in “Get Drew [Thompson]:

  • wigwag

    Is it okay to mock a Commander-in-Chief who orders the U.S. military to launch a strike on Syria just strong enough not to be mocked?

    • bpuharic

      Mock him if he does

      Mock him if he don’t

      Mock him if he will

      Mock him if he won’t

      That’s the right wing WAAAAYYYY

  • Pete

    “Not that the line made any sense, since it implied that killing 1,000 innocent people with chemical weapons was somehow worse than killing 100,000 in more old-fashioned ways, ..”

    Well, yes, killing with chemical and/or biological weapons is indeed worse than the ‘old fashioned’ way with bombs and bullets.


    Because, the use of such weapons lowers the threshold of their further use by anyone and everyone. It’s a Pandora’s Box that’s best left close. That’s logic 101, Mr. Garfinkle.

  • Boritz

    The use of force to no deliberate political end is worse than no use of force at all. It expresses strategic illiteracy. -A.G.

    True if the main consideration is the Middle East. What O really wants is to go before the cameras in a few day and say he handled it. He called their bluff. He has it under control. An electorate that voted for him twice will believe him and thank their lucky stars we don’t have a foreign policy cowboy right winger in charge.

    • bpuharic

      Hey you’re right! Let’s do the right wing thing

      Kill 4400 US troops. spend 2 trillion for nation building! Mission accomplished!

  • wigwag

    To paraphrase William O. Douglas in Griswold v Connecticut, there are endless pnenumbras and emanations firing forth in all directions from Obama’s fecklessness. One of the most interesting is the humiliation rained upon Prime Minister Cameron of Great Britain. Cameron’s reputation is even more tattered than Obama’s. The indignity of losing a vote in Parliment and watching numerous members of your own Party and most of the MPs from your coalition partner abandon you when you ask for their support to launch military strike is almost too much to take. Obama may be a fool but its Cameron who is the clown.

    When was the last time a Prime Minister asked Parliment to support his desire for military action only to be turned down?

    Loyal readers of Via Meadia surely remember Professor Mead’s post where he compared the current occupant squatting at 10 Downing Street with Clement Atlee, Winston Churchill, Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair. Professor Mead assured us that Prime Minister Cameron was putting the “great” back in Great Britain.

    Now that President Assad seems to have a firmer grip on power than the Right Honorable Prime Minister, I wonder whether Professor Mead has changed his mind.

    • USNK2

      Parliament has voted for every war since 1782, until now. Maybe Britain is finally war-weary, albeit still fighting in the Fourth Anglo-Afghan War (the First and Second Anglo-Sikh Wars were scheduled between the First Anglo-Afghan War, and the Crimean War, with a few other small wars in between)
      But, Cameron will rebound.
      His timing was awful, probably due to Obama’s timetable since he has to wrap up Syria before his visit to a synagogue in Sweden en route to the G20 next week.
      am in a very cynical mood this week, in that I was hoping Obama would lobby Syria for gun control and emigration reform. heh.

      • wigwag

        I wouldn’t be so sure that Cameron will rebound. He’s about as popular right now as a tempeh dinner in a Morton’s Steak House and this most recent fiasco is sure to accelerate his decline.

        Ed Milliband, Cameron’s opponent in the Labor Party might not be a genius but he isn’t a total fool like the current British Prime Minister is.

        You have to be pretty pathetic to make Obama look like a heavyweight, but Cameron is such a lightweight that compared to him Obama floats like a butterfly and stings like a bee.

        What we are witnessing is in many ways a complete collapse of Western influence in the Middle East and by extension, the rest of the world. You can be assured that leaders throughout Asia are watching Obama’s stumbling performance and Europe’s abdication and drawing the logical conclusion; the West no longer matters as much as it did.

        Can someone remind me why the U.K. and France are permitted to maintain their permanent seats on the Security Council? Why not just replace them with nations of equal consequence like Moldova or Bulgaria.

        Who would have guessed that Obama’s mindless performance on Syria would have ended up exposing Prime Minister Cameron as the most incompetent British leader in decades?

        Cameron is such a twit that even the clueless John Major looks good by comparison.

        What do you think USNK2; do you still think Professor Mead believes that Cameron “is a man with a plan?”

  • Jacksonian_Libertarian

    I think our incompetent President is to arrogant to ever even admit to a mistake, never mind learning from it. I think Obama’s response to the suggestion that he shut up and stand down, is “I won”.

  • Anthony

    “If the Obama administration really sees a need to degrade and deter the Syrian regime, if it’ not just mumbling speechwriter-quality bullshit for press consumption, it’s got to order up some really serious violence to bend the will of those who are consummate connoisseurs of it. If it’s not prepared to do that, and to risk the consequences that entails, it should shut up and stand down.” Given all talking points and punditry as well as public commentary, last two sentences of Adam Garfinkle’s essay simplifies presidential choice with latter sentence corresponding to prevailing view.

  • Brian O’Connor


    Syria is not a strategic imperative of the US. We should not attack Syria, either robustly or with pin-pricks.

    IF we are going to attack someone . . . IF . . . then we should attack Iran. We should take out Iran’s AD system then its nuke facilities, and whatever other military assets we can get at.


    1) Depriving Iran of her (prospective) nukes is a long-standing strategic objective of the US. Doing so would make the entire middle east safer from Iran’s hegemonic ambitions for the foreseeable future.

    2) It would be just that much harder for non-state Islamic terrorist organizations to acquire the bomb.

    3) The Norks might be a little more cautious.

    4) Assad and Hezbollah would both be seriously weakened. (Syria is nothing without Iran.)

    5) The world would receive the message that the US has stopped its withdrawal from international affairs and has re-engaged with them.


    1) It’s an act of war, an unprovoked attack on a sovereign nation. (Introducing Stuxnet was an act of war; invading Pakistan to assassinate UBL was an act of war; attempting to kill the Saudi ambassador to the US on US soil was, arguably, an act of war; sending forces to kill Americans in Iraq was an act of war; etc. The bottom line: We are already at war with radical Islamists, be they Sunni or Shi’ite)

    2) The Iranians would retaliate, especially against Israel. (But they threatened to respond disproportionately against Israel even in the event of “pin-prick” attacks against Syria. So we might as well earn the response.)

    3) The Russians would likely invade Georgia in protest, and shut down our northern supply lines into Afghanistan. (But we’re running away from Afghanistan as quickly as possible anyhow.) They’d do other things as well.

    4) There’d be terror attacks against all manner of western interests.

    5) There’d be other nasty consequences.


    The decision is between a bad outcome and one infinitely worse. So — What serves our interests better: stopping Iran from getting the bomb now, or trying to deal with an expansionist nuclear-armed Iran and, perhaps, a nuclear arms race in the middle east later?

    “If you set out to take Vienna, take Vienna.” — Napoleon

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