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Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Maureen Dowd, "Shadow of a Doubt": Shadow of a President

Where does Maureen Dowd stand regarding Obama's proposed "shot across the bow" against Syria's Assad regime? Her latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Shadow of a Doubt" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/04/opinion/dowd-shadow-of-a-doubt.html?_r=0) does not provide an answer; however, it does provide many references to America's mistaken and tragic involvement in Iraq. Dowd writes in this regard:

"In many ways, Syria is an eerie replay of Iraq, but with many of the players scrambled and on opposite sides.

. . . .

Once more, we see the magnitude of the tragedy of Iraq because the decision on Syria is so colored by the fact that an American president and vice president took us to war in the Middle East on false pretenses and juiced up intelligence, dragging the country into an emotionally and financially exhausting decade of war and an identity crisis about our role in the world.

. . . .

But the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing Tuesday dramatically showed how our misjudgment on Iraq infects our judgment on Syria."


Sorry, Maureen, but Syria is not "an eerie replay of Iraq." Sadly, the United States did absolutely nothing when Saddam Hussein gassed to death some 5,000 of his country's Kurds in Halabja in 1988.

A telegraphed "shot across the bow" lasting 48 hours and aimed at Syrian army bases that were evacuated prior to the strike is in any way the equivalent of America's massive involvement in Iraq? No way.

Dowd further observes:

"Many around the president are making the case that if he doesn’t stand firm on his line in the sand, having gotten so far out on a limb, he’ll look weak and America will lose face and embolden its foes."

Will look weak? The president already does look weak both to friends and foes. Russian President Putin has become openly contemptuous of Obama (recall Putin's recent grant of asylum to Snowden). Syrians  are mocking President Obama as a "coward" (see: http://news.yahoo.com/relief-damascus-syrians-mock-obama-coward-201855652.html). Israelis, even on the left, are openly wondering whether Obama's vacillation regarding his  impromptu, sans teleprompter, "red line" declaration vis-a-vis Syria, means that Israel should not place any creedence whatsoever in Obama's warning to Iran not to develop a nuclear weapon (http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2012/03/obama-to-iran-and-israel-as-president-of-the-united-states-i-dont-bluff/253875/) and will ultimately need to "go it alone."

America is not losing face. Rather, Obama has already lost face, and an impotent "strike across the bow" is not going to repair his standing.

Dowd concludes:

"It’s up to President Obama to show Americans that he knows what he’s doing, unlike his predecessor."

Well, I've got news for you, Maureen: This administration doesn't know what it's doing, as evidenced by John Kerry and his wife dining in Damascus with his "dear friend" Assad, and as evidenced by the inane declarations of Kerry's predecessor, Hillary Clinton, describing Assad as a "reformer."

Obama's smiling overtures over the past 5 years, aimed at Russia's Putin, Iran's Khamenei and Syria's Assad have only provoked disdain among America's enemies and distrust among its friends.

Mind you, I am not advocating American "boots on the ground" in Syria. God forbid! But you can't change the nature of the "bad guys," and you can't go around telegraphing your punches. The product of elite private schooling, Obama apparently never had to contend with bullies on the playground.

In an August 27 blog entry (http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.co.il/2013/08/maureen-dowd-less-bully-more-pulpit.html), I observed how a touchy-feely Obama, who is guided by the proverb "Speak softly and carry a tiny twig," passed assurances, in an open microphone gaffe, to Russian strongman Vladimir Putin that he would be more "flexible" after the 2012 election.

Today, Putin continues to provide Assad with advanced weaponry and opposes any effort to bring the Syrian tyrant under control.

Have Obama and friends learned anything over the past five years? I don't think so.

"Show Americans that he knows what he’s doing"? Unfortunately, the president has already demonstrated that he is clueless.

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