At the Intersection of Faith and Culture

At the Intersection of Faith and Culture


Obama and Syria: Challenging the Conventional Wisdom

posted by Jack Kerwick

Overwhelmingly, Americans reject Barack Obama’s call to launch a military strike against Syria.  Many of his opponents think that the President is in a tough spot, regardless of what happens: If he doesn’t attack Syria, then, since the latter has crossed his now infamous “red line,” Obama—and, quite possibly, America itself—promises to appear “weak” to our enemies and the world. If, on the other hand, he does attack Syria against the objections of Congress, American voters, and the rest of the world, then Obama will appear stupendously arrogant.

He’s damned if he does, damned if he doesn’t.

Not so fast.

Obama is a radical leftist, a “community organizer”—a community rabble rouser—who knows exactly how to create and exploit crises for his own political aggrandizement.  We should consider the possibility that the consensus among the punditry class is on the verge of being subverted: Obama might be setting himself up to benefit from the spot he’s in—regardless of what happens.

First, in the almost certain event that Congress refuses to authorize the use of force against Syria, Obama will be provided with an opportunity to avoid going to war.  And what an opportunity this will be.

If more atrocities occur in Syria, as they most assuredly will, he will be able to blame the bloodshed on his rivals in Congress.  With the help of his media accomplices, Obama can attempt to convince voters of the callous opportunism of his Republican foes, a rank partisanship—maybe even “racist” partisanship?—that would sacrifice numerous Syrians if this was the price that had to be paid to obstruct Obama’s agenda.

At the same time, the President can elevate his own image by showing the world that, while he personally wanted to strike Syria, he nevertheless deferred to the will of Congress and to that of the American people. In glaring contrast to his opponents, as well as to the charge(s) that they’ve been leveling against him for the last five years, Obama can use this as his chance to prove that not only isn’t he the radical that they say he is; he isn’t even much of a “partisan” at all.

Second, by deferring to Congress’s will, Obama can, at least implicitly, draw out the contrasts between himself and his predecessor.  The country remains war-weary because of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars in which George W. Bush and his Republicans got us mired.  Obama, on the other hand, ended America’s engagements in both Middle Eastern lands and kept it out of any others.

This, at any rate, is how history might remember him.

Third, if the wildly unpopular occurs and Congress does authorize a military intervention in Syria, then Obama can again showcase his commitment to bipartisanship and statesmanship. He will also be able to save his face vis-à-vis Assad and the planet.

However, if this scenario plays out, you can rest assured that the American military will be in and out of Syria in no time.  Again, this will be so that Americans still disenchanted with Bush II and the GOP for “their” wars will be able to breathe a sigh of relief that Obama kept his word: Syria was no Iraq.

Fourth, if Congress complies with Obama and we attack Syria, then, for the time being, attention is shifted from the other, more damning scandals that plague his administration.

Finally, if Congress votes “no” to an assault against Syria, Obama and, more importantly, America, may very well look “weak,” as several critics have said.  Yet, if some of these same critics ever took their earlier criticisms of this President seriously, then even this might serve Obama’s interests well.

Recall that Obama recently said that it isn’t he who drew “the red line,” but America that did so.  This may not have necessarily been a ploy meant to either convince the public to support his efforts in Syria or save Obama’s face.  For years, more than a few conservative-minded detractors of the President have been vocal regarding their belief that Obama’s desire to “fundamentally transform” the country is nothing more or less than a desire to destroy and replace it in favor of an America made in the image of his own leftist ideology.

Is it such a stretch to think that Obama wants to make his threat concerning “the red line” America’s threat because he knows that by failing to enforce it, America will appear weaker to the rest of the world?  Being the man of the hard left that he is, Obama regards America as the purveyor of all manner of evil in the world: “racism,” “imperialism,” etc.  But if America’s global stature is diminished, so too will its capacity to inflict mischief be diminished.  And if reneging on a threat to intervene in Syria is a crucial step toward realizing this goal, then this is what must be done.

With Obama, one must always watch the other hand. For some reason, as this issue with Syria is but the latest episode to reveal, his opponents continually forget this.



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