Maybe foreign policy by air strike is not such a good idea.
It’s hard to see how Barack Obama gets out of this one. I mean if the majority of the American public, as measured primarily by opinion polls, is against an attack on Syria and if the congress does not authorize it, it would seem that he is setting himself up for impeachment proceedings.
And while I know presidents, to include Reagan and Clinton, have taken it upon themselves to unilaterally order military strikes without congressional approval, it seems to me that it is neither right nor practical to allow the president to carte blanche order military action simply as a tool of foreign policy. Of course no one would argue that in a case of a national emergency where time was of the essence the president not only could unilaterally order military action but would have a duty to do so for the defense of the nation. The Syria crisis by the president’s own admission does not fit that situation. He said he wanted to get congress’ approval and that he could wait, although he also said he has the right to order the strike or strikes without congressional approval.
President Obama is set to take his case, via the airwaves, to the American people on Tuesday.
What a way to wage war. Talk about it a lot and let the enemy know exactly when and how you plan to do something. You don’t have to be schooled in military strategy to know that the element of surprise is vital. We no longer appear to have that.
Obama has been clever in the past, such as in Libya, where, as one commentator put it, we led from behind. Maybe he’ll successfully make his case (seems doubtful).
There is an ongoing argument in foreign policy circles as to whether America should have a robust policy in which, for lack of a better way to put it, we push our weight around, of course in the interest of spreading true democracy around, or whether we stay back a little and mind our own business. And that’s a tough one. If we are not the leader in the world, some of the dangerous characters will take over. What do we do?
All I can say at this point is we have to choose our battles, but when we choose one, go for the win. Nothing short of that is acceptable. So what I mean is not that we should go in with troops on the ground and hit Syria with everything. No, we can do limited at first, but if the Syrian regime fails to heed the message we have to be ready to hit again and with everything we have. This may not be practical or desirable. If not, don’t go in at all. Think of an alternative. We really need to make a deal here, not with the idiots in Syria, but other players. And it has to be done in private. I’m all for transparency in general. But hashing everything out in public like we have for the past week or two ruins any flexibility we might have.
If we do strike, the Syrian presidential palace ought to be on the target list.