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September 04, 2013

Obama's Thin Red Line

Now you see it...

Now, you don't. Like the racist dog whistle, it is only detectable when convenient ...and then, only by People In The Know.

Let us be clear -- the President's line setting was never meant to convey the existence of a personal line because Herr Obama was actually speaking for the entire planet. He totally has the authority to do that sort of thing, you know. It's in the Constitution, and all you cheese eating surrender monkeys are only opposing him because you want him to fail. Never mind that he seems to be doing a bang up job of failing on his own, thank-you-very-much. We're all in this failure thing together. It's the American way: if we don't all fail together, we shall surely all fail separately.

And before one of you nitwits goes there, it's not the President's fault if the White House web site can't even get The Boss's positions straight.

... the people in Syria and the Assad regime should know that the President means what he says when he set that red line. And keep in mind, he is the one who laid down that marker. He's the one who directed that we provide this information to the public. And he's the one who directed that we do everything we can to further investigate this information so that we can establish in credible, corroborated, factual basis what exactly took place.

Yes, the President said exactly what he said about that red line. It's just that his uniquely complex thought processes sometimes result in statements of such subtle, nuanc-y sophistication that the human brain is incapable of comprehending them. This is complicated stuff, peoples - far above your pay grade. And it doesn't help when the media insist on interpreting possessive personal pronouns like "my" as indications that the President was about to take ownership of the problem. Or that he was personally invested in any particular outcome:

The use of chemical weapons, itself, was not exactly Obama’s original “red line,” as he laid it out during a news conference at the White House on Aug. 20, 2012. For purposes of expediency and practicality, media outlets have simplified the “red line” as this: If Syria deployed chemical weapons against its own people, it would have crossed a threshold with the White House.

But what Obama said was a little less clear.

“We have been very clear to the Assad regime, but also to other players on the ground, that a red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized,” the president said a year ago last week. “That would change my calculus. That would change my equation.”

It was also unclear what the consequences of crossing that “red line” would be. Obama has cautioned that unilateral action, particularly without a U.N. mandate, may be unwise and could run afoul of international law. In keeping with the strategy he used in seeking international cooperation for airstrikes against Libya in 2011, Obama warned in a CNN interview last week that international cooperation is key to military intervention.

To many, Wednesday’s attack outside Damascus would likely qualify as “a whole bunch” of chemical weapons deployed.

Let us be clear about one thing: like the word "my", "a whole bunch" is open to interpretation, and not by the likes of you morons. What might seem vague and contradictory to some of you is actually just one more example of the dazzling brilliance for which 44 is rightly worshipped and venerated by all 12 of our allies:

The arguments were lengthy and unclear. The White House expressly admitted that their strikes wouldn’t save Syrian lives or topple Assad or making anything better in any way, and they were instead asking Americans to bomb Syria in order to enforce abstract international norms of warfare. It would be the first military action in American history that wasn’t meant to save lives or win a war but to slightly change the mix of arms a dictator was using to slaughter his population.

All this was helpful in creating opposition. But then Obama turned on a dime and decided to go to Congress at the last minute, making his administration look indecisive and fearful of shouldering the blame for this unpopular intervention, putting the decision in the hands of a body famous for being unable to make decisions, giving the argument for strikes more time to lose support, and giving an American public that opposes intervention in Syria more time and venues to be heard.

And then, after all that, Obama goes to Congress with an absurdly broad force authorization — so broad that it doesn’t specify when it ends, or even really limit which countries can be hit. The force authorization offended even Obama’s allies in Congress, left many questioning his motives, and has now been thrown out by the Senate. Members of Congress and their aides I’ve spoken to remain shocked that Obama chose to come to Congress and then handed them that document.

And on Tuesday, of course, Secretary of State John Kerry stepped before the Senate and, asked, to forswear ground troops, said, “I don’t want to take off the table an option that might or might not be on the table.” He later walked the comments back as “a hypothetical,” but they led the nightly news, and pushed the possibility of escalation further into the discussion.

The Obama administration’s strategy to cool the country on this war without expressly backing away from the president’s red lines has been brilliant, Hill aides say (just look at the polls showing overwhelming opposition!). If they are going to go to war, their efforts to goad Congress into writing a punitively narrow authorization of force that sharply limits any potential for escalation have worked beautifully.

Believing anything else — like this is how the administration is actually leading the United States into conflict — is too unsettling.

Whew! For a moment there, we were becoming concerned.

Posted by Cassandra at September 4, 2013 12:17 PM

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The spectacle is more amazing every day. Last week there were people complaining that Congress hadn't stepped up and authorized an action when the President himself didn't seem to know what he might be prepared to ask for, or even whether he was genuinely in favor of whatever it was that he was privately mulling over.

It's bad enough when we send servicemen into harm's way in the throes of an initial enthusiasm, only to cut them off at the knees once they're in deep. This is the first time I've ever seen a commander in chief offer to send them into harm's way for the purpose of pursuing a strategy that has been pre-disowned.

If what the SCOAMF really meant some months back was that Assad was flirting with crossing a red line that the UN was prepared to take seriously, then maybe he should button his lip and let the UN handle the problem in its own inimitable fashion.

An argument can be made for the world's leading powers to combine in an effort to discipline the use of outlawed types of weapons--but the world's leading powers are not in fact doing any such thing, as witness not only Syria but Iran and North Korea. Maybe they will at some point. In the meantime, I'm adopting Kissinger's line: "It's a pity they can't both lose." I'm not interested in seeing the U.S. stand alone to enforce a presumptive U.N. position that the U.N. doesn't want to enforce and that has no strategic impact on the U.S.

Posted by: Texan99 at September 4, 2013 02:44 PM

I knew things had jumped the shark when the President of the United States held a press conference to tell the nation that he hadn't made up his mind yet.

Posted by: Cassandra at September 4, 2013 04:18 PM

the only way he could appear more weak and dithering would be to put on a sweater and the famous fake Carter smile.

Posted by: CAPT Mike at September 4, 2013 08:11 PM

My favorite line from this whole farce is from Sarah Palin (Xerxe's favorite pig in lipstick), "So, we're bombing Syria because Syria is bombing Syria? And I'm the idiot?"

Sorry, CAPT, but he passed up Jimmah Cahtah in the weak and dithering department many moons ago.

Posted by: DL Sly at September 5, 2013 12:51 AM

I am oddly calm. I can't quite figure out whether it's because this administration has completely met all of my (admittedly low) expectations, or because I am dead. Either way, there's no cure.

Posted by: spd rdr at September 5, 2013 08:01 AM

"I am oddly calm...Either way, there's no cure."

spd, check your fishnets, they may be tight enough to block the blood flow to *essential* areas.
Just a thought.

Posted by: DL Sly at September 5, 2013 03:44 PM

the only way he could appear more weak and dithering would be to put on a sweater and the famous fake Carter smile.

Jimmy Carter always reminded me of a demented Mr. Rogers :p Though that's pretty unfair to Fred Rogers.

I hate to say this, spd, but I burned up all my 'give a damn' when The Unit went to Afghanistan for a year. It took pretty much all my mental bandwidth to stay positive about the whole thing and not let resentment and anger take over my life.

I read an interesting piece this morning about 'war weariness' and how the war never really touched the lives of most Americans. I can't disagree. I can't even disagree that in the ways that count, I was extremely lucky. But if I feel this way (even after so many years writing about the WOT almost every day), I can't imagine how families that have been through 3 or 4 deployments feel.

I reluctantly supported the invasion of Iraq because I was persuaded by George Schultz's arguments that we had been ignoring a growing threat in Iraq for too long. I was never convinced that a large scale effort in Afghanistan made sense, and even LESS so when it consisted of a leader who opposed the Iraq Surge (which actually worked and made sense) who then proposed the very tactic he fought tooth and nail in Afghanistan...

...and then announced the withdrawal date in advance. I am angry and bitter about that. Sometimes I don't think I will ever be able to forgive the awful waste. We owed those who fought there so much more.

Posted by: Cassandra at September 5, 2013 04:42 PM

And now I'm sitting here with tears running down my face.

I can't even comment about this without losing it. Damn, damn, damn.

Posted by: Cassandra at September 5, 2013 04:44 PM

*slides over next to the Princess, puts an arm around her*

Posted by: DL Sly at September 5, 2013 05:36 PM

This terrible stupid mistake that is about to be foisted upon us is......depressing as Hell.

The years in Iraq took a heavy toll on those who served. I know a few of them. I know a couple of people that lost their sons their. A friend who lost close team mates there. War is ugly, there are no good wars. But to then have all the blood and sacrifice squandered by....the present Administration, and then to hear this cacophony of illogic about why we should be involved in Syria, baffles me to no end.

It is sickening, in the extreme.

Posted by: Don Brouhaha at September 5, 2013 06:14 PM

I actually would not necessarily have had a problem with a swift, decisive airstrike early on (before they were given time to move all their weapons). If the goal is to show that we're not going to stand by wringing our hands and wallowing in postmodernist existential angst, that's the way to respond. Basically, do it like the Israelis and don't apologize afterwards.

What can I say? I'm heartless that way. I hate violence. I've never hit another human being in anger my whole life, but I understand that violent thugs aren't generally impressed by empty resolutions and the sternly wagging finger of symbolic global opprobrium.

I don't understand the point of doing anything now. We've telegraphed the punch six ways to Sunday, our President openly admits he doesn't intend to do anything painful enough to have a deterrent effect.

It's all show and no substance.

Posted by: Cassandra at September 5, 2013 06:36 PM

*slides over next to the Princess, puts an arm around her*

Thank you. That helps, more than you might imagine.

I apologize. I didn't mean to emote all over the comments section. I guess that's what happens when you repress stuff :p

Posted by: Cassandra at September 5, 2013 06:38 PM

It's not even show, it's just tongue-wagging. Tears are entirely appropriate.

Posted by: htom at September 5, 2013 06:41 PM

Tears are entirely appropriate.

It's funny - most people associate tears with sorrow or grief, but I have the most trouble not crying when I get really angry.


Posted by: Cassandra at September 6, 2013 09:06 AM

The incompetence of this administration is just so... staggering... that it sucks the life from me. He's running the world with a learner's permit.

Posted by: spd rdr at September 6, 2013 10:09 AM

The incompetence of this administration is just so... staggering... that it sucks the life from me. He's running the world with a learner's permit.

Dang. Almost makes me look like Einstein, doesn't it?

Posted by: Dubya at September 6, 2013 10:30 AM

I think the view of the President and his running buddies is that violence should be bloodless and bureaucratic, as in an idealized penal system. The target of punishment should be informed in advance of his sentence, and someone should hold him down while you administer it. The notion that war is taking the field against an opponent that may fight back is foreign to them. Syria is no Libya, and that's even before you consider the ruthless effectiveness of its allies. Russia has not been sitting on its hands. What are we going to do when Syria responds to our antiseptic bombing/spanking by taking out a few of our destroyers?

Posted by: Texan99 at September 6, 2013 11:33 AM

What are we going to do when Syria responds to our antiseptic bombing/spanking by taking out a few of our destroyers?

C'est impossible! Nevaire would they dare such impertinence!

Posted by: Barack Obama at September 6, 2013 11:48 AM

I wouldn't worry too much about the Iranians "taking out a few of our destroyers," Tex. We've got no "destroyers" left in Obama's Navy. Just wind-powered puddle-paddling "consensus builders."

Posted by: spd rdr at September 6, 2013 03:09 PM

Holy underwear!
Al Queda murdered!
Innocent women and children blown to bits!
We have to protect our phoney baloney jobs here, gentlemen! We must do something about this immediately! Immediately! Immediately!
Harrumph! Harrumph! Harrumph!

Posted by: The Wyzzerd of Izz at September 6, 2013 04:59 PM

I didn't get a harrumph outta that guy!

Posted by: The Wyzzerd of Izz at September 6, 2013 04:59 PM

IMO, attacking Afghanistan was not a mistake, and following up w/ ground forces to chase out al quida & Taliban was OK too. Our mistake was the hubris of thinking we could 'make' them into a proper country . . . much less a modern democratic republic.
- we had a logical achievable mission, and we accomplished it.
> *huge* mistake was allowing mission/creep (gallop!) to attempt 'nation-building.'

Iraq is a much more interesting question, but I'll repeat myself; still think it was OK to make the effort to wax Saddaammm, but that we had *no* responsibility to hang around for years.

Syria is somewhat different; while Assad is a second rate bad guy, he hasn't been making much trouble, outside Lebanon. Likely successor Islamists might actually spark a shooting war w/ Israel.

More broadly, Obama & minions have ignored the broad strategic importance of limiting the influence of radical Islam, everywhere.

Very Best Regards,

Posted by: CAPT Mike at September 6, 2013 10:40 PM