Does it come down to the ‘red line’ comment, backing himself into fewer options with Iran?
If Obama doesn’t enforce this, he’ll also lose credibility on the other red line he’s drawn in the Middle East—the one against Iran’s development of nuclear weapons.
He desperately wants to convince Iran to abandon that program without going to war. The only way that’s even remotely possible, however unlikely, is if the Iranian government believes he’ll declare war if it doesn’t stop at some point. So if Assad gets to step over his red line, Tehran’s rulers will have every reason to believe they can step over theirs.
The regime in Iran is using Syria as a proxy, trying to create a Shia crescent (constantly meddling in Iraq), and trying to become the big-dog in the region. They State-sponsor terrorism, through Hizbollah and other outlets, and are still aiming to arrive at deliverable nuclear weapons. Very little the Iranian regime says or does can be remotely trusted, and a nuclear Iran greatly destabilizes a region roiled by an Islamist resurgence (Russia sees Iran as a proxy-ally, which is why the Russians are arming Assad).
Very little economically or politically is likely going to stop the Iranians from getting what they want, including technological warfare.
Obama seems willing to use our military, and the threat of force, for his favored ideals, which are liberal internationalist, and human-rights based. Obama’s stick is still our military, but he’s very reluctant to use it except for those ideals. In the case of Iran and Iran via Syria, he may have committed himself to using it to some extent, while he’s still trying to form a coalition based on those ideals, which does not seem forthcoming.
Aren’t you glad Saddam’s gone? Gadhafi? bin-Laden?
At what cost?
How do we best protect, promote and pursue our interests going forward?
Addition: Cameron loses war vote. Not much of a coalition here.
Another Addition: Don’t worry, Obama’s got this.
From Walter Russell Mead who has been watching for quite some time, and still supports some kind of American action:
‘This kind of decision is exactly the kind of split the difference thinking that has gotten the President into trouble in the past. Surge in Afghanistan—but pre-announce your withdrawal. Attack Syria, but make it clear to everyone that you don’t mean anything serious by it.
That kind of thinking will not impress America’s wavering Middle East allies. It will likely not impress Butcher Assad or his friends in the Kremlin and Teheran. It will not strengthen the moderates in the Syrian opposition. It will not stop or even slow the killing. It will not bolster the President’s credibility at home. King Tarquin got a better deal.’
Many Americans may not have the stomach for it, but he finishes with:
‘The situation in Syria demands a serious response from the United States. Let’s hope that President Obama has realized at long last just how dangerous the horror in Syria has become, and that whatever steps he announces in the coming days will be only the first pieces of a coherent and hard headed approach to the steadily deteriorating situation in a region of vital interest to the United States and its allies around the world.’
Related On This Site: …From Slate: ‘In Aleppo, Syria, Mohamed Atta Thought He Could Build The Ideal Islamic City’
Michael Totten’s piece that revisits a Robert Kaplan piece from 1993, which is prescient: “A Writhing Ghost Of A Would-Be Nation”. It was always a patchwork of minority tribes, remnants of the Ottoman Empire
I just received a copy of Totten’s book, Where The West Ends, and it’s good reading.
Liberal Internationalism is hobbling us, and the safety of even the liberal internationalist doctrine if America doesn’t lead…Via Youtube-Uncommon Knowledge With Fouad Ajami And Charles Hill