In her latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Bill Schools Barry on Syria" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/16/opinion/sunday/dowd-bill-schools-barry-on-syria.html?_r=0), Dowd begins by observing:
"Not only is President Obama leading from behind, now he’s leading from behind Bill Clinton.
After dithering for two years over what to do about the slaughter in Syria, the president was finally shoved into action by the past and perhaps future occupant of his bedroom."
"On Syria, the administration now says it will begin supplying rebels with small arms and ammunition, a gesture that friends and foes alike say is too little, too late. The Times’s Peter Baker reported on Saturday that Obama himself said it wouldn’t change anything but would maybe buy time.
And as the White House announced this pittance of a policy on Thursday evening, the president was nowhere to be seen. He let his deputy national security adviser, Ben Rhodes, be the face of the Syria plan, while he spent time at an LGBT Pride Month celebration, a Father’s Day luncheon and a reception for the W.N.B.A. championship Indiana Fever basketball team."
Small arms and ammunition might "buy time"? No way. Small arms and ammunition don't stop air power, armor and artillery, backed by an onslaught of Hezbollah fighters from Lebanon, Shiite irregulars from Iraq and battle hardened Houthis from Yemen.
"While the president was avoiding talking about what he hadn’t wanted to do in the first place, the former president was ubiquitous and uxorious, chatting about Syria and myriad other issues on MSNBC and Bloomberg TV; smiling on the cover of Bloomberg Businessweek and offering his solutions for corporate America’s problems; presiding at his global initiative in Chicago; and promoting the woman he hopes will be the next president.
On Friday, a self-satisfied Clinton told the 'Morning Joe' hosts about Syria, 'It looks to me like this thing is trending in the right direction now.'
The less Obama leads, the more likely it is that history will see him as a pallid interregnum between two chaotic Clinton eras.
Nature abhors a vacuum. And so does Bill Clinton."
Well, before lecturing Obama, Bill might well want to consider Hillary's lame defense of Syria's homicidal president, Hafez al-Assad, in March 2011:
"Many of the members of Congress of both parties who have gone to Syria in recent months have said they believe he’s a reformer."
In addition, Syria's "rebels" have increasingly come to be led by radical Sunni Muslims funded by Saudi Arabia and Qatar with links to al-Qaeda, e.g., the al-Nusra Front. Hmm. Hezbollah versus al-Qaeda. Sounds almost like Freddy Krueger from "A Nightmare on Elm Street" pitted against Jason Voorhees from "Friday the 13th," and almost too good to be true, were it not for the nearly 100,000 dead civilians and 1.5 million refugees (Syria has a total population of some 22 million).
As already stated, the supply of small arms and ammunition is as good as doing nothing. If Obama wants to do something - and this is a big "if" - he needs to strike a quick deal and demand concessions from the rebels in their war against Iran's combined proxy forces. First and foremost, Obama needs to ensure that should the rebels prevail and Assad be forced to flee Damascus, revenge will not be exacted on Syria's minority Alawite population.
But without a no-fly zone, the rebels stand no chance against Hezbollah's forces, which are taking directions from Tehran.
Does Obama have the cojones to stand firm against Moscow and Iran, who were not won over by his first term charm campaign? Probably not. Obama likes to watch; he does not like to decide. And it's so much easier touring Tanzania and hosting the W.N.B.A. champions.
Let's face it. Armed with a teleprompter, Obama is a master orator, but was never meant to lead.
[Today, The Independent is reporting that Iran will be sending 4,000 troops to support Assad (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/world-exclusive-iran-will-send-4000-troops-to-aid-bashar-alassads-forces-in-syria-8660358.html). Yes, this changes the equation.]