In FrontPage this morning I explain why what now appears to be inevitable is nonetheless so unwise.
A Senate panel has voted to authorize Barack Obama to use military force in Syria. This is a disaster in the making.
Just as in Afghanistan, Obama has no goal, no plan for victory. He said that the military strikes in Syria would not be directed toward removing Bashar Assad, but then he said that it would be a good thing to remove Assad from power. This was just one of many indications of how ill-conceived and misbegotten Obama’s Syria plan really is.
Obama said that Assad used chemical weapons, but still has not produced compelling enough evidence to convince our closest allies, the British. What he has produced is a series of YouTube videos of dubious provenance, establishing nothing conclusive.
And as is increasingly the case in Afghanistan also, as Hamid Karzai continues to show his true colors, Obama doesn’t even have any real allies inside Syria, either. Even the New York Times has admitted that there is no significant secular fighting force within Syria. The major rebel groups are all allied with al-Qaeda. John Kerry insists they”re “secular” and John McCain assures us they”re “moderates.” None of these groups, however, have shown any sign of being either.
And now McCain has refused to support the Senate resolution, saying that we should only go in if Obama intends to remove Assad. So again we see that Obama’s Syria plan is entirely opaque, even to its most ardent supporters. And that is no surprise, for it is not founded upon any facts that have as yet been established.
Vladimir Putin has openly accused Kerry of lying, saying: “They lie beautifully, of course. I saw debates in Congress. A congressman asks Mr Kerry: “˜Is al Qaeda there?” He says: “˜No, I am telling you responsibly that it is not.” Al Qaeda units are the main military echelon, and they know this. It was unpleasant and surprising for me — we talk to them, we proceed from the assumption that they are decent people. But he is lying and knows he is lying. It’s sad.”
Putin added that “what Congress and the U.S. Senate are doing in essence is legitimizing aggression. This is inadmissible in principle.”
It is hard to argue with that. Obama has even admitted that “we may not be directly imminently threatened by what’s taking place” in Syria. In fact, in light of al-Qaeda’s dominance of the Syrian rebels and the opposition of Russia and China to our intervention, going in to Syria could touch off a much larger conflict.
Obama and his national security team — Kerry, Hagel, and Rice — once again seem indifferent to American interests. They have not been honest with the American people about the nature of the Syrian opposition, or how it could possibly be good for America once again to aid pro-Sharia, pro-jihad forces in Syria, as Obama did in Egypt and Libya with disastrous results.
Above all, it is appalling that Barack Obama still hasn’t provided proof that Assad used chemical weapons. It is the height of hypocrisy for him to push forward with military action after criticizing George W. Bush mercilessly for providing insufficient proof of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. The stakes are too high for Obama to be playing politics: we need to see the proof, and we need it now.
Yet even if Obama does manage to produce conclusive proof that Bashar Assad used chemical weapons on his own people, that in itself does not ipso facto make the case for intervention — unless the United States is now going to intervene against every tyrant who terrorizes his own people the world over. We do not have a military of sufficient size to do that, especially after the interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan have depleted our resources, weakening us militarily and economically. With no compelling national interest sending us into Syria, it would be much wiser for us to take steps to restore the economy and revive the military rather than get involved in an adventure with no point, no clear goal, and no easy way to get out.
This is the crowning misjudgment of a presidency that has been alarmingly full of them. Nonetheless, Obama said Wednesday: “My credibility is not on the line. The international community”s credibility is on the line.” But the international community has not joined in his call for an attack on Syria. Nor has it agreed that Assad used chemical weapons, or that the rebels are “secular moderates” who must be aided. Obama also said that he “didn’t set a red line,” the world did — but the world is not with him in this.
The American people shouldn’t be, either. The Republican leadership — John Boehner, John McCain, Lindsay Graham — have gone along with Obama. They shouldn’t have. America needs a loyal opposition to stand up in Congress for true American interests, and to insist: no U.S. war in Syria.