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Friday, September 6, 2013

New York Times Editorial, "Can Mr. Obama Avoid Mission Creep?": Can Mr. Obama Make Up His Mind?

Following the G-20 Summit in Saint Petersburg, President Obama finds himself between a rock and a hard place: He has been unable to garner support for a "limited" strike against the Assad regime from either the American public or the international community. Never before has Obama appeared so disoriented, isolated and unpopular. Unpopular? Can Obama endure this disdain and the resultant damage to his fragile, narcissistic psyche?

In an editorial entitled "Can Mr. Obama Avoid Mission Creep?" (, The New York Times declares:

"President Obama is scheduled to address the nation Tuesday on his plans for using military force in Syria. He will have a hard time persuading a skeptical Congress and an equally skeptical American public.

. . . .

It is a very strange moment for Mr. Obama, who has worked hard to extricate the country from two debilitating wars. As the president contemplates striking Syria, the public deserves to understand more fully what 'limited' military action actually means."

Sorry, but Obama has not "worked hard to extricate the country from two debilitating wars." In fact, he was personally responsible for escalating America's disastrous ground involvement in Afghanistan.

"The public deserves to understand more fully what 'limited' military action actually means"? Does this also apply to Bashar al-Assad? When you are about to engage in an armed confrontation, even of limited duration, do you always leak the game plan to the opponent?

But beyond any such "leakage," does Obama intend to proceed with his attack without Congressional approval, which he impulsively decided to seek, surprising both friends and enemies? Deputy national security adviser Tony Blinken told National Public Radio that Obama has no such intention (

Moreover, is Obama strong enough as a "leader" to proceed with the attack without international and domestic support? Probably not, and perhaps all along, he has been seeking an escape hatch from his impromptu, sans teleprompter,"red line," which he is now seeking to disavow. Glenn Kessler of the The Washington Post would have us believe that if it's not read from a teleprompter, the president is not responsible for anything he says.(see:

And if the US does not fire a single Cruise missile against a single Syrian air base? What will friends (e.g., Israel) and foes (e.g., Iran) read into this irresolution? Obama already has the answer: Congress is to blame.

However, the implications of a failure to act against Assad are far-flung. You will recall that Obama told Jeffrey Goldberg  (

"I think that the Israeli government recognizes that, as president of the United States, I don't bluff. I also don't, as a matter of sound policy, go around advertising exactly what our intentions are. But I think both the Iranian and the Israeli governments recognize that when the United States says it is unacceptable for Iran to have a nuclear weapon, we mean what we say."

So, are Israel and Iran to understand that Obama doesn't mean what he says and that he does bluff?

Will Israel now act on its own, as it wanted to do one year ago, but stood down at the time owing to Obama's veto (see:

Regardless of what he decides regarding a "limited" strike against the Assad regime, Obama's credibility has been irretrievably tarnished.

Or what happens when America elects an anti-Leader, who is then faced with a crisis demanding leadership . . .


  1. Even before his election Obama sought popularity. Five years later he still seeks popularity and is puzzled how "circumstances" seem to have worked against him. He started out with his mantra of "change" the most populist meaningless tripe, a hook onto which all Americans could hang their dreams, hopes, aspirations. Change per se is absurd. One needs to know a leader will do to effect that change and where he wants to take one, in practical terms. This is why from the moment I heard that mantra I thought: here is a preacher and not a statesman. And then he tried exporting his mantra and stood up in the Egyptian parliament and bleated his message of democracy. Democracy in a land where there could never be democracy for Arab and Muslim society is incompatible with democracy in the evolved Western sense due to the inequality of women, due to patriarchal custom (not least female genital mutilation, a you Jeff, have frequently pointed out). It was Obama who set in the motion the pie-in-the sky aspirations across the Arab world. And now he is puzzled by the outcome. Puzzled that all his fine hollow words have returned to roost as insurmountable problems. And still he thinks he ranks with the 4 top presidents in US history on foreign policy....
    so what can be done?
    He has taught important lessons to many nations.
    To Egypt: can one trust the USA again.
    To Israel: do Obama's words amount to anything? On Iran? On Syria?
    To Saudi Arabia: how much can we rely on the USA when push comes to Shia shove?
    the list is long...
    It is a very strange world when the USA can count on only one other country.... France.
    How did Obama manage this?

    Why not just award him another Nobel Prize for Peace... or how about for Physics? He's just as likely to deliver on that front as he was on the first.

  2. When Americans vote for their leaders in the same way they decide to buy their next tech product, they're bound to get the same disappointments with both - along with promises that any problems will be addressed in the next version.

    This is how "Every Political Campaign Commercial" will be structured in the future.