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Thursday, August 29, 2013

From Cowboy to Mau-Mau Diplomacy

What are we doing?

What exactly or even approximately are we doing on Syria?

The news gets weirder and weirder. The latest is that the UK is out, out of . .  . what exactly were we doing? Oh, yes, something "limited and brief" with no intention of provoking regime change. We, according to no less a military expert than our Commander-in-Chief, seek to
"take limited tailored approaches, not getting drawn into a long conflict — not a repetition of Iraq, which I know a lot of people are worried about — but if we are saying, in a clear and decisive, but very limited way we send a shot across the bow, saying, ‘stop doing this,’ that can have a positive impact on our national security over the long term and may have a positive impact in the sense that chemical weapons are not used again on innocent civilians.”
Uh, what? He's certainly not repeating Iraq where President Bush had a Congressional OK, an impressive international coalition, and a military punch that Saddam would not be able to withstand. Obama is warning Assad that we are going to send a shot across the bow, but in a limited way, sorry, in a very limited way, to say "stop doing this." I see. That's going to impress Assad, that pencil-necked swine friend of Nancy Pelosi's? Wow! He must be sweating bullets . . . or, more likely, busting a gut laughing his behind off at the guy who leads from behind, or follows from the front, or whatever it is he does, besides play golf and give historically illiterate speeches.

I have written before how the Democrats have a tradition of mishandling US interests, emphasis added,
Democrats prefer and advocate for U.S. intervention, including messy, bloody, military intervention, in places where there is little or, preferably, no US national interest at stake, e.g., Vietnam, Libya, ex-Yugoslavia. Find a place where there are US interests at risk--e.g., Panama, Central America, Iran, Cuba--they go into pacifist-anti-imperialist-defender-of-the-peoples-of-the-Third-World mode. Also curiously, as we saw most spectacularly in Vietnam, once the US does go in, they quickly begin to doubt the wisdom of the move, and even turn against the US intervention. They know that once we do intervene, even if it was in a place of no or limited importance before, the act of intervening creates US national interests, e.g., the need to show that the US cannot be defeated, that we mean what we say, etc. Once such interests are created, the liberals, "summer soldiers" if there ever were, become very critical of the intervention, and actively work to sabotage the US effort.
Obama and his merry band of morons--kindest word I could generate--decided to be tough on Syria. Better said, to be what they see as passing as tough, you know, two years of desultory debate to draw red lines for US intervention, allowing the jihadi loons to take over the anti-Assad resistance, then announcing, sort of, that the red line, i.e., use of chemical weapons, had been crossed, and that, therefore, we would do something undefined that would be brief and limited, and serve as a "shot across the bow." Now, PM Cameron, Obama's competitor for Dopey Leader of the Year, couldn't get his Parliament to go along with, well, uh, with whatever it is that is to be done somehow.

Now, guess what? If we don't act, but in something more than just a brief and limited shot across the bow, we have lost. That's the way the world works. If you announce or imply that you are going to do something, you damn well better do it, especially when the Iranians are threatening you. If you don't do it, the Iranians win. Remember Bin Ladin's comment about people going with "the strong horse"? You don't want the Iranians to be that horse, not if you're a real President of the United States--but now I really have crossed into Fantasy Land from Bizarro World.

Let's not forget, that all this nonsense has real world implications. Not just in a policy sense, but in a more human sense. People, our people, could die; I don't care about Assad's people or the AQ creeps on the other side. What reason do we give grieving parents, brothers, sisters, children to explain why their loved ones died in Syria? A shot across the bow to stop "mistreating" Al Qaeda fanatics, the same people we "drone" nearly every day in many places around the world?

I am beyond appalled and  disgusted. This misadministration is criminally inept.



  1. Despite the trains being predictably tardy, America's Mussolini is wearing a new suit!

  2. Oddly enough, the "Borowitz Report" in the New Yorker (URL link below) ends up being more accurate than parody:


    WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—Attempting to quell criticism of his proposal for a limited military mission in Syria, President Obama floated a more modest strategy today, saying that any U.S. action in Syria would have “no objective whatsoever.”

    “Let me be clear,” he said in an interview on CNN. “Our goal will not be to effect régime change, or alter the balance of power in Syria, or bring the civil war there to an end. We will simply do something random there for one or two days and then leave.”

    “I want to reassure our allies and the people of Syria that what we are about to undertake, if we undertake it at all, will have no purpose or goal,” he said. “This is consistent with U.S. foreign policy of the past.”

    Beyond that, there was a good article in Slate discussing the lack of legitimate international legal authority (to the extent the reader believes in the concept, anyway) for US military action in Syria given the lack of consensus from the UN Security Counsel. In Libya, at least Obama had the fig leaf of approval for a humanitarian bombing mission to end the civilian slaughter - which turned into a quasi-legal mission of regime change. I'm starting to think that Obama will eventual argue himself into doing nothing, because his "cross the red line" dare was based on an illegal threat of military action. We shall see . . . . .

  3. Diplomad:
    I enter this statement from the administration as one truly for the ages.
    "One U.S. official who has been briefed on the options on Syria said he believed the White House would seek a level of intensity “just muscular enough not to get mocked".

  4. As someone has pointed out, "Shot across the bow" means "cease and desist or we will annihilate you."

    Putin is aligned with Iran and China. The US is aligned with......????

    Obama is about to be humiliated, though, I'm sure the press will make it "Springtime for Hitler."

    Well, I guess the one administration official got his wish. The administration is going to be humiliated instead of mocked.

  5. Nice double reference, Tom Wolfe and Hussein Onyango Obama in three words.

  6. I object to an intervention in Syria. See unclecephas.blogspot.com.

    This is a classic case of talking loudly and carrying no stick at all.

  7. I object to an intervention in Syria. See unclecephas.blogspot.com.

    This is a classic case of talking loudly and carrying no stick at all.

  8. This man is woefully incapable as Commander in Chief.


  9. Greetings from Australia! Just found your site after a tipoff, great stuff. Why are you using a picture of Phsycic Bob btw?

    1. I like to think of him as my hero; the ideal man who can see through the fog of today into the fog of tomorrow.

    2. Well why not? It fits.

  10. My, my that smartest African-king-in-the-room sure has us where he wants us now huh. His moves have my head spinning.
    If I were a betting man, I'd say his next move will be, uh, wait a minute-a speech, yep, that would do it. Can somebody get those faux Greek columns out, set up the old tele-prompter, the blue curtains. I'm feeling like I need to hear his wisdom, and send out that black chick to the UN to tell them it was all a misunderstanding caused by some Muslim film-maker making a video that incorrectly implicated the christians-or something, tell her to wing it. Then get John Kerry out there telling everyone if we had just listened to Nidal Hassan none of this need ever have happened.
    We can recover from this people, someone phone Fred Karno he's pretty good at this kinda stuff, he even has an army.
    Speaking of army-when do the chiefs of staff overthrow these incompetents before a lot of people get killed needlessly.

  11. “We’re portrayed by Republicans as either being lying or idiots,” one Obama administration official told CBS. “It’s actually closer to us being idiots.”

    Wonderful. Just the people we want making decisions about war.

    - Augustus

  12. Unfortunately this post of your's Dip, pointing out all "the noises" our guys (and Susan Rice) are making puts me in mind of Sun Tzu.

    Strategy without tactics is the slowest road to victory while tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.


  13. Diplomacy is supposed to be able to find language to cover or explain as you do what is in your country's best interest. This administration is chock full of lawyers. Surely they can craft some highfalutin reasons to do the right thing in Syria, which would be, no American intervention.

    There is also the thought, what would MLK do?

    BTW, I for one do care about needless death and suffering among Assad's people, if by that you include ordinary civilians. I think you meant his military, and I agree there, but if we're lobbing bombs/missiles, civilian casualties often come into it of course.

    1. Yes, of course, I was referring to Assad's thugs

  14. "very limited way we send a shot across the bow, saying, ‘stop doing this,’”

    This is the law enforcement view of international relations. The mistaken view that states are people who can be spanked, and after punishment will self-rehabilitate into upright citizens of the international community. Liberalism/Socialism has such mistaken views of the world it cannot last, but that doesn’t mean it won’t destroy us all as it works out its psychoses.

    Remember when liberals were opposed the USA being the world’s policeman?

  15. When an American president saddles up to ride, the Brits have traditionally wanted to get in on the action. I believe that they consider it a national insurance policy. I worry that we are experiencing normalcy bias. That our system has been stable for so long that it is inconceivable that loss of confidence in our leadership might lead to collapse. But when you’ve lost the Brits, and presumable the rest of the Anglosphere … can the US military be far behind.

    I am a southerner with a family of strong military tradition. Growing up I was inculcated to never volunteer for service by my Vietnam era vet dad, who did allow that if called up I would be obligated to fight honorably. Today, my attitude is that I will do everything in my power to keep me and mine away from these jokers. Put simply, I have zero confidence in Mr. Obama, and less in the majorities that elected him. Let them send their sons to staff Obama’s army.

    1. Great Uncle. Army. WWII
      Father-in-law Army Korea
      Uncle. Army. No conflict
      Step-father. Marines. Vietnam
      Me. Navy. Gulf War I
      Oldest Son. Army. Afghanistan (out-processed 7-5-13)

      My younger son, now 16, has been wondering whether to continue our family's military service when he graduates high school. I told him that, in my opinion, our family dues are paid for a while. Go to college and sharpen his skills and add something constructive to the world that way. I danced a jig the day my older boy got out, and then did another two days later when his wife gave birth to my second grandson. I am so glad that he shouldn't be caught up in this mess in the Middle East. Selfish, I know, but my family has spilled their blood on five of the seven continents. Enough is enough.

      Blue Tile Spook
      Reader #13

  16. Back in the day, Donald Rumsfeld mused that it was a shame that both sides of the Iraq/Iran war couldn't lose. The same goes for Syria today, but with the fundamental difference being that it is Putin who is saying that about the US.

    My mother taught me it's better to say nothing than to say something bad about someone, but I'm willing to make an exception in this case.

    As Napoleon's Chief of Police, Joseph Fouché, said about the execution of Louis Antoine, the Duke of Enghein during the reign of Bonaparte: "C'est pire qu'un crime, c'est une faute."

    Worse than a crime, it's a blunder.


  17. Oh, and the reason it was a blunder: mistaken identity and a head-long rush to execute a purported enemy of the State ignored normal procedures and led to a strong reaction from the landed gentry and nobility throughout Europe: it looked like Napoleon was reverting to the kind of behavior that led to the Terror of just a few years before, and was instrumental to having the opinion of the people that counted (the nobility) back then turn against Napoleon permanently.

    Just pretty much the way that President Obama and his administration is trashing the reputation of the United States overseas as no President before has even come close to. Hope and Change, y'all.

  18. Is this the tragedy or the farce? With this administration I never really know.

  19. Fred from CanuckistanAugust 30, 2013 at 1:29 PM

    Well America, you have nothing to fear, nothing to worry about.

    You have the smartest POTUS ever and you have a France as your sole allied nation.

    Should work out just fine.

    1. The gods of good fortune smile upon us

    2. More like the Gods of the Copybook Heading. And they're not on OUR side.

  20. This excerpt from Secretary Kerry's report is getting some skeptical attention, since the "one hundred videos attributed to the attack" are almost certainly You Tube videos and the US intelligence assessment apparently concludes that the Syrian opposition lacks the capability to fabricate all of the videos . . . . . .

    We have identified one hundred videos attributed to the attack, many of which show large numbers of bodies exhibiting physical signs consistent with, but not unique to, nerve agent exposure. The reported symptoms of victims included unconsciousness, foaming from the nose and mouth, constricted pupils, rapid heartbeat, and difficulty breathing. Several of the videos show what appear to be numerous fatalities with no visible injuries, which is consistent with death from chemical weapons, and inconsistent with death from small-arms, high-explosive munitions or blister agents. At least 12 locations are portrayed in the publicly available videos,and a sampling of those videos confirmed that some were shot at the general times and locations described in the footage.

    We assess the Syrian opposition does not have the capability to fabricate all of the videos, physical symptoms verified by medical personnel and NGOs, and other information associated with this chemical attack.

    This may be the first go-to-war decision based on the lack of multimedia expertise on one side in a Civil War conflict.

    1. This excerpt from Secretary Kerry's report is getting some skeptical attention, since the "one hundred videos attributed to the attack" are almost certainly You Tube videos and the US intelligence assessment apparently concludes that the Syrian opposition lacks the capability to fabricate all of the videos . . . . . .

      The vids mentioned come from here (it's in Arabic but there's an English version - problem with that is of course, what's being said on the Arab Street isn't necessarily easily (nor exactly) translated into English. Not that Sec. Kerry speaks it either).


      (Roughly - the blog's title is "The Violations Documentation Center" - in Syria.)


  21. I'm just completely floored by this. Who the heck warns their enemy that they don't have the stomach for a protracted fight?
    I just can't believe I'm hearing this from a potus, it's just insanity.
    If Obama *actually* wanted a 'shot across Assad's bow', there would've been maybe 200 sorties over Assad's strong points the day after the reports of this chemical attack were verified.
    What Obama wants now is some sort of self-aggrandizing theater. He's not even interested in US national interests, he's far more interested in not losing his backers than he is in safeguarding national interests.
    - reader #1482

    Distinguishing himself from another President's actions serves NO national security interest.
    Beyond that, it does a disservice to the entire country that he would include such crap in a statement when national security is supposedly on the line.

    I can't fathom why Obama talks so much.

  22. From our [US] media coverage (admitting I'm NOT a medically trained person - but I have been in discussions over a period - my expertise/experience being more "along the lines of mil stuff") my OPINION has been something - if it was gas, likely WWI era chlorine or somesuch.

    However yesterday's reporting of a "napalm type" incident makes me think the info from this site is plausible:


    H/T Malcolm Pollack's source.