By L&T Publisher Earl Watt
While the Syrian people wonder when the next chemical attack may come, or if they back off of their resistance to their dictator, the political winds have blown Barack Obama into a corner, and whether it is fair or not, there is no escape.
No matter which side of the issue anyone may take, the most horrific outcome of the political posturing is the suffering of the Syrian people.
Now in the fifth year of his presidency, Obama has learned a very costly lesson — words matter.
When you criticize your predecessor for making tough calls the lead to military action, people remember.
When you draw red lines, people remember.
When you complain about the costs of war, and are on the verge of engaging in one, people remember.
When you rally your party around creating a better international image, and yet you cannot create a coalition to support your military action, people remember.
There are no scenarios that lead to a positive for Obama in Syria, and that will lead to the demise of the Syrian rebels trying to shuck Bashar Assad.
If Obama attacks, what or who is he attacking?
If he targets the chemicals, he can release them.
If he targets Assad, the Nobel Peace Prize winner will be staging an assassination.
If he targets the military, he will be involved in a prolonged engagement.
If he does nothing, he will be perceived as weak and that he blinked against a very inferior opponent.
How will Vladimir Putin interpret this failure in Syria?
The beacon of freedom and democracy will glow a little dimmer around the world, and those seeking to do harm to American interests will only be emboldened.
If he does take action, his counter military positions will cost him his closest allies and could force him to re-evaluate his statements against George W. Bush.
Before Bush went to Iraq, he had Congressional authority which included the support of then-senator Hillary Clinton.
Obama used that to defeat her in the Democratic primary, rallying anti-war support and claiming to be a different kind of leader who wouldn’t use the military in foreign affairs unless there was an imminent threat facing the United States.
And yet, there is none.
Obama correctly understands, albeit too late, that threats are not as easy as warships along the coast.
He now understands the delicate balance of chemical weapons in Syria leading to attacks on Israel and elsewhere.
What are the costs of action?
What are the costs of inaction?
Like a fly who strayed too close to the honey, Obama finds himself trapped in his own sticky words, and now he needs a way out.
I believe there is an answer to this question, but first, he has to create a specific plan with specific goals. He has no choice but to take action.
Chemical weapons have long been considered a red line for America, and for the rest of the world.
But Obama may have to go this one alone. He may have to ostracize himself from his own supporters. He is, after all the leader of the free world.
I believe this is his conflict, his moment of stepping out of the liberal agenda and doing what he knows is right despite the criticism that will come, despite having to eat his own words.
Willing or not, he is President of the United States of America.
He knew there could come a day when he might have to fill the conventional role, and sending snipers into Pakistan after a terrorist in a bunker isn’t the same as sending warships and planes into hostile territory to face an enemy that is expecting you.
He will have to explain his actions to America and the world, something he would rather not have to do.
He may find himself struggling to find Democratic support for the move.
He will pay a price, one way or the other. Do something, or do nothing, he still loses.
He may look better to his inner circle by doing nothing, but the right thing is to do something.