Criticism of Obama’s Syria Policy Reveals Longing for Autocracy

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I’ll be honest – I didn’t watch Obama’s speech. I might read a transcript when I get the chance, but it’s pretty clear that the speech isn’t going to set the course for our Syria policy – that course has been set, and will now be steered again to the UN Security Council. But I did find the reactions to his recent policy highly interesting – most telling is that we have the chairman of the RNC saying, ““The administration’s handling of the U.S. response to Syria has been so haphazard it’s disappointed even the president’s most ardent supporters.””, we have Peggy Noonan again questioning Obama’s competence, and a general complaint that the president looks ‘weak’. I pointed out a long time ago that Obama’s critics have chosen this as the theme – they mock him for ‘leading from behind’ and skewer his administration for being too weak on foreign policy. Essentially, they are saying ‘man up!’, occasionally in as many words. It is impossible to escape the conclusion that they honestly wish Obama would just set out a military policy and stick to it, regardless of the diplomatic situation.

But is the apparent ‘inconsistency’ of US foreign policy in fact weakness? I would argue no – that the conservative pundits and politicians in the country are in fact expressing a desire for a unilateral, authoritarian administration like they had with Bush II. Their definition of strength is in fact a mere denial of inconvenient facts. While the Obama administration lacks the self-assuredness of the Bush regime, it has been far more successful.

For an example of how what the GOP calls haphazard is in fact responding to facts: Obama took both Libya and Syria to the UN Security Council. On Libya, he got approval and acted. On Syria, he did not, and then watched as the UK also dropped out of the venture. Instead of pushing ahead, as Bush did (and the other Bush, and Reagan would have), Obama sent the question to the congress, delaying any action and thus, in the eyes of the National Standard and Wall Street Journal, appearing weak. But then something remarkable happened – Putin and Assad proposed putting Syria’s chemical weapons essentially out of reach of the Syrian government. And when diplomacy opened up, the administration again delayed the attack and it appears will allow diplomacy to run its course. The parallel with Iraq could not be more striking – even with UN inspectors in the country, the Bush administration insisted on going ahead with an attack.

Obama will again come under harsh criticism from the right for this ‘haphazard’ policy, but the fact is American policy is, for the first time in years, reacting to events on the ground, rather than deciding on a narrative and pretending the facts support it. And time and time again, this more flexible (if less satisfying in a ‘Pass the popcorn! U!S!A! sort of way) approach has yielded results that improve our geopolitical position without costing US lives or outrageous sums of money, in Iraq, Libya, and hopefully now in Syria.

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The Polish Wolf

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Larry Kralj, Environmental Rangers
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Larry Kralj, Environmental Rangers

Actually, it’s all moot. You can discuss, speculate, and argue all you want. In the end, the CIA is gonna do what they’re gonna do. The system is broke. The comedians make the most sense of all. But as evidenced by the recent polls, the public isn’t even part of the process. Hasn’t been for some fifty years or so, ever since St. Ronnie gassed the kids at Berkley. I think it’s healthy to acknowledge that and move on.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/10/stephen-colbert-bill-oreilly-reagan_n_3900078.html

Larry Kralj, Environmental Rangers
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Larry Kralj, Environmental Rangers
Larry Kralj, Environmental Rangers
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Larry Kralj, Environmental Rangers

But this was our intellectual treat in the GF Spitoon this morning. You see, we are children who don’t understand the realities. And the Izreelees, god’s chosen, should be our guide. GOD SAVE THE ZIOFASCISTS!

http://jewishworldreview.com/cols/thomas091013.php3#.UjBvoDbnYqQ

Tokarsk
Guest
Tokarsk

Why, if you do not watch American news sources, are you such a perfect reflection of American news?* It’s not a partisan issue. If you cannot look at American history since 1963 and see that wars are bipartisan, then you are not paying attention. The indoctrinary system in our country requires token opposition on matters such as this, but only for perception management purposes. The Democrats offered token opposition to the Iraq attgack. There’s no controversy on the objectives. There are roadblocks to that objective put in place by the Russians. That requires a change of strategy. Not objective. (You’re… Read more »

Craig Moore
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Craig Moore

Obama’s Syria stumble has put the Russians in control. http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2013/09/10/krauthammer_obama_has_completely_walked_into_putins_trap_and_has_nowhere_to_go.html CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER: If [Pelosi] imagines that this is a victory, she is delusional. The policy now is in total disarray. What happened yesterday was clear: the Russians were throwing Obama a lifeline because Kerry had made a gaffe. They gave an opening for Russia to look like the peacemaker, but as we talked about last night, their single objective is to make sure that Assad wins the civil war. That’s their interest. They have no interest in chemical weapons one way or the other. They have a base there. This… Read more »

Turner
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Turner

Really? You’re citing Krauthammer as a serious person? The man is a Cold War ideologue and a moron.

Craig Moore
Guest
Craig Moore

Turner, instead of attacking the person, just where is he wrong about Putin, Russia, and Obama having fallen into a trap? Even the Iranian FM is saying the same thing about Obama being trapped.

Larry Kralj, Environmental Rangers
Guest
Larry Kralj, Environmental Rangers

Ah, craig. Egg SACKLY what I’ve been saying all along. And here comes craig to parrot the rightwing talking points. Boy is this sad. That’s ALL you dudes have. Attack the president and obstruct. HAVE YOU NO SHAME?! Nor thought of your own? Sad, so sad.

Craig Moore
Guest
Craig Moore

Larry, I don’t care about politics or party affiliation regarding these matters. Back before we went into Afghanistan, I told a Dem congressman to his face, don’t do it. Don’t let Bush take us to war there. Sometimes to lead we have to stand and bleed, or we sacrifice whatever moral authority we have. We did just that, sacrificed our moral authority after 9-11. We attacked and the world felt we had our vengeance and went about business as usual. Now Obama wants to leave without victory, whatever the hell that is at this point. The world sees us as… Read more »

Larry Kralj, Environmental Rangers
Guest
Larry Kralj, Environmental Rangers

WTFaaaaaaaa?!! The Ziofascists are wagging the little Unca Sam dog REAL good this time! Is it really anti-Semitic to point this out and ask just WHY IN THE HELL we’re bankrupting our country for these little zionazis? I don’t get it. Someone help me out here. The “chosen” done chose to steal my freakin’ HEALTH care to murder Mooselims! Sorry, but I don’t think that that’s a fair trade, especially since the zionazis have primo health care while they’re sending their sewage straight into the occupied territories! Is it REALLY any wonder why the Islamic world hates us? Not to… Read more »

MTgrl
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Thank you, PW. Right wing pundits may be chagrined, but taking the issue to Congress is what the president of this country should do if he cares deeply about preserving democracy. Old thinking: only a strong, decisive man can save us! New thinking: we should think about this together.

Tokarsk
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Tokarsk

I would be more interested in acquiring democracy than preserving it. One must precede the other.

larry kurtz
Guest

Mr. Downhour: it is offensive that you would censor someone with differing opinions. Doubting Israel’s right to exist is not Antisemitism and nobody has disproved that Mossad or IDF didn’t gas Syria to precipitate the disarming of a regime defending itself against rebel forces.

Israel should be held to account for its war on Islam.

lizard19
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lizard19

larry, in our increasingly authoritarian state, a state that snoops and stores data on nearly all its citizens, allowing unnecessarily provocative language is not a very smart thing to do. LK is a liability, and I don’t blame PW for trying to impose some limitations on his incessant commentary.

larry kurtz
Guest

funny, liz: good one.

Larry Kralj, Environmental Rangers
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Larry Kralj, Environmental Rangers

Spent a lot of time as a kid crisscrossing the sw desert. I loved it all then, and still do. It pains me terribly to see this shit. Makes me wanna put on my ghost shirt and take up my Springfield Trapdoor 45.70 a la Geronimo!

http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2013/09/12-4

Bastards!

p.s. I have spent my entire life in the west. I have never been east of the Montana line. I love the west. It’s my home.

lizard19
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lizard19

have you ever removed comments at your blog larry?

larry kurtz
Guest

yes, liz: spam and foolishness mostly.

The Polish Wolf
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The Polish Wolf

I merely deleted a meaningless word. In fact, I’m censoring someone whose opinions I at least partially agree with – US foreign policy has assigned a greater value to Israel than I think it deserves. It is a secure, wealthy country and can continue to be so without US aid. However, Larry is throwing out language that implies a devious nature on the part of an entire nationality. I don’t believe he is anti-semitic, and so I merely ask that his language reflect his opposition Israel politically, not to Jewish people in general. If I don’t draw the line here,… Read more »

lizard19
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lizard19

there is one blog I visit where constant trolling, sometimes seemingly well-organized, is deployed, especially when Israel is being discussed. obviously LK is the nut we know, but the effect is still not good.

Turner
Guest
Turner

I’m far from being a competent student of world history, but the fact that the United States presides over and provides the military might to sustain a worldwide empire seems undeniable. This empire is made up of corporate interests, client states, the military establishment, and our comfortable acceptance of it. We Americans, especially if we’re white and fairly well educated, are benefiting from the high standard of living our empire provides. We resemble some of the more comfortable characters found in Jane Austen’s novels, characters who enjoy endless rounds of tea parties and dances paid for by an oppressive and… Read more »

MTgrl
Guest

So good to know someone understood Ms. Austen’s critical analysis of her artificial society and the lessons for us now. “A” in Literature, Sociology, and Economics, Turner!

Tokarsk
Guest
Tokarsk

That, Turner, is deeply insightful, in my humble opinion.

Tokarsk
Guest
Tokarsk

Obama, ignoring surface phenomena, is just another Neocon. As a Democrat, he is effectively cloaked. He has allowed the NeoCon faction to move forward with their Post-9/11 agenda of aggressive war in the Middle East. He’s useful. In today’s New York Times, there is an op-ed piece by Russian President Vladimir Putin. This is highly significant. The Times is but a frontispiece behind which there is obviously a squabble going on. Otherwise, Putin would not have access to the pages of the venerable state organ. There is obviously not unanimity within the ruling class that the US should attack Syria.… Read more »

Larry Kralj, Environmental Rangers
Guest
Larry Kralj, Environmental Rangers

This is quite bizarre. The more things change, the more they stay evil! Obummer the progressive dusts off the Evil One. I’m surprised that he doesn’t have the Dick, cheney as his closest advisor! Time to follow the JFK plan of breaking the CIA into a thousand pieces. US foreign policy must be wrenched from the hands of the war criminals and their nazi teachers.

p.s. I use the term nazi to indicate all the nazi influence after WWII. Read The Beast Reawakens by Martin Lee

http://www.commondreams.org/further/2013/09/12-5

Foursteps
Guest

Whatever positives may have come out of Obama’s (and Cameron’s in the UK) handling of the Syria issue have in my view been a happy accident rather than a thought through strategy. Many believe that had the vote on the UK government’s proposal gone Cameron’s way then the US and UK would have taken military action the following weekend. It was only when the UK vote failed that Obama decided he needed some political cover in the US. He and David Cameron have badly misjudged the mood on the Syrian civil war. For some reason Putin has decided to rescue… Read more »

Larry Kralj, Environmental Rangers
Guest
Larry Kralj, Environmental Rangers

Bienvenido al mundo de educacion in Mejico! THIS is how you negotiate with teachers in Mexico. Brutal but effective.

http://www.commondreams.org/video/2013/09/16

Jack Ruby
Guest
Jack Ruby

The Russian navy is not a conventional deterrent but there won’t be any conflict between us openly because no one is crazy enough to start a nuclear world war 3…which is what each side convinces the other will happen in the event they are routed conventionally. The real redlines are the ones the us and Russia have with each other which each must mutually understand to maintain order. If obama can take this opportunity reach a rapprochement with Iran, which has long been the logical thing to do, he can reestablish his hopey changey cred before he leaves office. That… Read more »

Tokarsk
Guest
Tokarsk

Agreed.

Craig Moore
Guest
Craig Moore

PW, a new poll reveals that the American people believe Obama is eating Putin’s dust. http://today.yougov.com/news/2013/09/25/americans-doubt-obamas-effectiveness-syria/ Many Americans think that Vladimir Putin was the most effective leader during the Syrian chemical weapons crisis, while approval for how Obama handled the crisis is still low. Although Syria appears to have met the first deadline in its agreement with the United States and Russia, beginning the process of turning over its chemical weapons, few Americans trust it will fulfill its promises. That leaves President Obama in a difficult position: he continues to have little support for action against Syria, and Americans continue… Read more »

Mark Tokarski
Guest

Don’t you think it is interesting Craig that if Obama’s objective was a an illegal aggressive war against Syria, the ultimate crime against humanity according to Nuremberg, and he was not “effective” in bringing it about, that we are well-served by his ineptitude? The whole idea that there needed to be military aggression against Syria was a planted meme, an agitprop campaign. I am relieved that circumstances brought about its failure, as are tens of thousands of Syrians who Obama and company wanted to kill. They get to live until he gins up another faux-crisis. In the meantime, the “Civil… Read more »

Tokarsk
Guest
Tokarsk

PS: As I understand it via reports in the non-American news: The chemical weapons attack was approved by the White House, with plausible deniability, no doubt. It was funded by the Saudis, and carried out by Ukrainians. The shells and sarin came from Libya, since that country possessed old Russian shells from the 70’s. They were were transported to Syria via Turkey, it appears, as terrorists were arrested in that country in possession a while back. The Brits were in charge of overall management. The children used in the photos were kidnapped from remote regions of Syria. At least one… Read more »

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