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Monday, September 2, 2013

Congress: Vote NO on Syria Attack

There is no simple, clean, consequence-free exit from the box into which the horribly inept Obama misadministration has placed the US vis-a-vis Syria. Every egress plan has downsides. In sum, US national interests have been damaged by Obama's Syria fiasco; US interests will be damaged ending the fiasco.

The "handling" of Syria by the incompetent boobs running our government shows, once again, how liberals do not understand a basic fact of international life: the word of the US president on foreign affairs must be akin to an IOU note backed by gold coin. The president should issue such a note sparingly and only when sure he has that coin. For reasons known only to Obama and whomever he has as foreign affairs advisors--and that remains murky--this misadministration decided to say, I repeat to say, a couple of years ago that any use by the murdering Assad regime of chemical weapons was unacceptable and a threat to the United States.

Some time back I noted that,
If you want a clue on dealing with Arab states, don't look to the State Department or the NSC--especially under Susan "It's YouTube's fault" Rice. Look to the Israelis. For them it is literally a matter of life or death who runs the corrupt Arab regimes in the neighborhood. The Israelis detest the Assad regime and have fought a continuous war with it since 1970. They also detested Arafat, and any number of other Arab dictators. They, however, were and are very cautious about promoting regime change. Despite numerous opportunities, for example, they never killed Arafat; they dropped people all around him, but never him. Who would replace him? Nobody knew, so better stick with the disgusting but inept known devil than risk getting someone or something much worse. The Israeli military and intel services, likewise, repeatedly have demonstrated an ability to strike deep into Syria and successfully take out major targets. They, however, have not targeted Assad, father or son. The assumption being that the Assad clan knows where to draw the line and not cross it for fear of engendering a regime-killing Israeli response.
It is not clear, as I have noted, why the deaths of 1400 Syrians by gas are more threatening to the US than the deaths of 100,000 Syrians by more conventional weapons, and continue to note the uneasy silence from the Israelis. All that, however, now is one giant "never-mind." The President of the United States has said chemical weapon use by Assad would pose a threat to core US interests. Our rodeo-clown SecState, furthermore, has stated that Assad, indeed, has used these weapons and, he said, that requires an immediate response by the United States, with or without the UN or our traditional allies. The British, of course, have said "No, thanks," and the French are looking for a way out of their initial support for Obama.

The President and the SecState have said Obama has the authority to strike Syria with or without Congressional approval--the kind that Bush got, but liberals seem to have forgotten. The Pentagon has moved ships into position, and more are on the way. The hammer has been cocked and . . . eased back down. In a rambling, disjointed follow up statement, Obama has said that, well, after all, he wants Congressional approval to engage in a limited warning strike of brief duration that will involve no major US military presence with the objective of . . . we don't know. He also undermined John "Xmas in Cambodia" Kerry by saying that, well, there is no hurry, and that we can strike whenever we want, now, tomorrow, in a week, in a couple of months, it's all good, dude . . . time for some golf with the ever-grinning Joe "The Plugs Don't Hurt Anymore" Biden.

My recommendation, for what little value it has, is for Congress to vote "NO," unless the misadministration comes up with a real, solid thought-through proposal with goals and an exit plan. President Obama built this bizarre structure, he should get full credit for it. He should be told, you didn't want us in on the take-off, don't call us in on the crash landing. This is a tough thing for me to recommend. I have spent some 34 years in the Foreign Service, and have seen up close what happens when the President of the United States has no credibility. A "NO" vote by Congress could embolden Assad, but then it is not clear that a "YES" vote would deter him; it might embolden him even more when the smoke clears after the limited, brief, minimal pain attack and he still stands. A "YES" vote would make Congress, and the Republicans, complicit in an extremely foolish and poorly designed policy with some potentially very nasty fall-out.

As stated at the outset, every action has a negative consequence. Having the President humiliated by Congress is not a good thing on the international scene, no matter how much he deserves it. This President, however, has said that he has the authority to act and that the situation in Syria is worthy of exercising that authority. If he really believes that, and is willing to "man up" and accept the consequences of his policy, then he should go ahead and strike Syria. He should deal with the consequences of whacking a hornet's nest with a very small bat. Let Obama prove his mettle as a leader.

Whatever happens, we will have to hunker down and try to ride out the next three years of incompetence and the consequences such incompetence brings.

I repeat, let him own it. He built it.

UPDATE: For a different view see Legal Insurrection's thoughtful post on this matter

43 comments:

  1. And then you have the likes of John McCain (R) and Peter King (R) roaming the media advocating for Obama's hair brained plan.

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    1. Fine, primary every one of the R's who vote yes. I'm with Mr. Mad on this, there will be no painless way out of this fiasco of O's making.

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  2. And have a roll call vote. Make every one of the democrats vote on the record!

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  3. The sad thing, of course, is that it is our military who will have to bear the brunt of the Obama disaster.

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  4. "The sad thing, of course, is that it is our military who will have to bear the brunt of the Obama disaster". And the Israelis. I'm with you in that it's never good a US President is this humiliated, even if he deserved and brought it about unto himself. I'm a firm no on this issue. But, I want these Dems who've been running their mouths for so long put on record!
    Mr. Mad I really think something bad has been turned loose and is coming. We need to somehow clear the decks. Oh well soap box closed for the day.

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  5. Syria is not about Syria. Syria is the tar pit.

    This whole thing is about Iran and nukes.

    Whatever force, action, strategy, motion, approval, or other action should define our strategy to the Iranian end.

    If we are going to take action let's do this once, with planning, finality, and comprehensive effect.

    When you kill a snake, you attack the head, not the tail even though it rattles.

    Sadly, our leadership in either party is not up to the task.

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    Replies
    1. Quite right. Never mind the puppet, it's the puppet master that needs sorting

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    2. If the U.S. is looking for "credibility" by attacking Syria, I have NEWS for you; this country and its high exalted leader has lost credibility a long time ago. If we go to war with Obuma as our leader, its all over, the fat lady has sung and died of a heart attack.

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  6. As far as chemical weapons are concerned, whether used by Assad or by the "rebels", by accident or on purpose, by rogue low level employees or the top, let the UN do something about it. That's suppose to be their job, not ours. We should not be Policeman of the Planet with our military as the World's Cannon Fodder.

    The U.S. Military Does Not Want To Fight For Al-Qaeda Christian Killers In Syria
    Why is the Obama administration so determined to have the U.S. military help al-Qaeda win the civil war in Syria? Why are we being told that the U.S. has "no choice" but to help rabid jihadist terrorists that are slaughtering entire Christian villages, brutally raping Christian women and joyfully beheading Christian prisoners? If you are a Christian, you should not want anything to do with these genocidal lunatics. Jabhat al-Nusra is a radical Sunni terror organization affiliated with al-Qaeda that is leading the fight against the Assad regime. If they win, life will be absolute hell for the approximately two million Christians in Syria and other religious minorities. According to Wikipedia, Jabhat al-Nusra intends "to create a Pan-Islamic state under sharia law and aims to reinstate the Islamic Caliphate." As you will see below, many members of the U.S. military understand this, and they absolutely do not want to fight on the side of al-Qaeda.


    They took the black and blue from the dark skies and a stoned infidel girl’s eyes and a touch of Allah’s hue
    And gave it to the men who proudly wear the U.S. Air Al Qaeda Black and Blue.
    The U.S. Air Al Qaeda Black and Blue!
    Oh, they are men with a dream on Al Qaeda’s team
    They’re a unsightly but Shariah compliant crew
    And you can bet your neck and head the Islamic world looks up to the U.S. Air Al Qaeda Black and Blue
    And you can wear it too! The uniform of the U.S… Air Al Qaeda … Black and Blue!

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  7. Here's the decision matrix for an attack on Syria as I see it:

    (a) Congress says Yes, Obama says No

    (b) Congress says No, Obama says No

    (c) Congress says Yes, Obama says Yes

    (d) Congress says No, Obama says Yes

    The possible outcomes are:

    (a) is a likely win for Obama. Engaging Congress will seem a positive step to many observers, whereas Obama's "no" decision can be reversed at any time.

    (b) is a definite win for Obama. This is (a) on steroids.

    (c) is a definite win for Obama. This is a license to act on whatever agenda Obama privately wishes to pursue, and Obama's "yes" decision can be reversed at any time.

    (d) is a potential win for Obama depending on events, and/or the agenda he privately wishes to pursue.

    Many people are saying Obama looks like a fool in this Syria event, but I score 3 out of 4 probable "wins" for the man going in, with a potential for 4 out of 4 "wins."

    Of course, should Congress say No and Obama say Yes ((d)), a Constitutional crisis might occur in which the mettle of the legislative branch and the oaths of office of uniformed military personnel may both be put to the test.

    Decision (d) is the most worrisome. If pursued it would be a grab for unconstitutional power.

    John-onymous

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    Replies
    1. Decision (d) is the most worrisome. If pursued it would be another grab for unconstitutional power.

      There. Fixed it for you...

      What do you think would happen if Boehner just decided to tell Pee Wee Barry that he agrees with John Yoo? http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2013/08/30/constitution-allows-obama-to-strike-syria-without-congressional-approval/

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    2. (e) When the roll is called, all Republicans vote "present."

      Let it be entirely a Dem decision.

      Delete
  8. Remember the old "joke" doing the rounds back after Iraq rolled into Kuwait:

    Q. What is the Saudi National Anthem?

    A. "Onward, Christian Soldiers!"

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  9. Obama acts as though he is the sovereign of the United States (issuing red lines and an ultimatum hinging on his sole say-so). He is not. This is the time to remind him who is the boss of who. And failing to do so is in default of our responsibilities as the actual sovereigns in this nation -- in effect, ceding to Obama what is properly ours alone. Bad idea.

    Besides, ObaZma's Excellent Syrian War Adventure is a transcendently stupid idea. Why not simply avoid the error?

    Vote no.

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  10. I hope to God that every single decent Republican congresscritter votes NO (no matter how the eggs end up getting scrambled-because there is no good option here-our eggs are cooked under this joke of POTUS) and then I hope I get to enjoy it when the Democrats try to campaign in 2014 and 2016 against Republicans as the "Party of No...War". Because that would be fun to see how they spin it. All of this is a political maneuver, don't doubt this for an instant. These people are either evil, stupid, or both.

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    1. I'd even hope as number of Jackasses with soft spots for our Cold War enemies join decent Jumboes as well. This Syrian thing is one of the most hare-brained schemes ever to come out of Washington. Where are the Democrat pacifists on this one?

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    2. "when the Democrats try to campaign in 2014 and 2016 against Republicans as the "Party of No...War"" Put them on record!

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    3. You are asking too much of the Republicans for as Robert Reavis a commentator at Chronicles Magazine said about their party - The GOP believes in nothing, stands for nothing, will fight for nothing but will say anything.

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    4. Rand Paul 2016. Proud to say he's my senator from KY. I wonder what dirt the Obaminions scraped up on Boehner, Graham, Cantor, and I would say McCain...but I think he's got Stockholm Syndrome at this point.

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  11. "For reasons known only to Obama ..."

    Where's the mystery? You've seen the line on his resume that says Community Organizer, right? (How could you miss it, it's about the only thing there.) Well, spouting off is one of the main things C.O.'s do. Followup, on the other hand, is definitely not in the job description.

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  12. This is truly a tar baby that I don't think anyone wants any part of. Excuse me if the president looks bad, and thus, our (the US) credibility; but that has to end at the president's desk, not on the American People. He does not represent us and never has from day ONE. This man is trying to be "big man on the block" at our expense....he's had years to deal with Syria, and NOW, he's a "wee-weed up", PLEASE

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  13. Seems like we use drones to great effect in other parts of the world, and without Congressional approval. I say make it direct and personal. Identify anyone in the Assad bloc who had anything to do with the decision, and they've got 30 days to turn themselves in at the Hague. Otherwise, good luck.

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  14. Simple solution: The Republicans should walk out of each chamber once the vote is called. (OK, a few would need to stay behind in the House to maintain the quorum.) They could make up an official reason for that decision when the media vultures demand it -- but pretty much anything, said with conviction, would be more credible than any of O's utterances. And then, let the Democrats own the whole thing from top to bottom, come what may, while denying O any political advantage.

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    Replies
    1. Well, the only problem I see is that it ends up getting us into the Syrian tar pit.

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  15. I found it odd that GEN Jack Keane repeated almost verbatim the points that Institute for the Study of War senior analyst, Elizabeth O'Bagy, presented in a recent WSJ article and also on Fox news. Glanced through ISW and found out that GEN Keane is the "Chairman of ISW's board" and instrumental in its founding. Then I came across a Syrian Emergency Task Force group and lo' and behold Ms. Bagy is listed as the "political director" or this resistance movement. I have a purely amateur blog www.libertybellediaries.com at Wordpress, where I wax on about politics mostly and I wrote about this obvious conflict of interest if Ms O'Bagy is supposed to be an unbiased analyst and GEN Keane, one would hope, would be well-versed in being used by groups with foreign agendas. Spent most of my life as an Army wife and homemaker, no professional background whatsoever - just like reading about military strategy and foreign affairs and a friend suggested I start a blog. My blog is strictly my political musings and ventures on the internet. I've been following your blog for a long time and love hearing your insights.

    libertybelle

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    1. Elizabeth (Bailey) O'Bagy

      http://ccas.georgetown.edu/story/1242708341083.html

      Arkie

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    2. Thanks! Do you think GEN Keane is aware she's the political director of this "Syrian Emergency Task Force"? And it sure looks like the map she provided in her WSJ opinion piece is showing up all over the place as an "official" disposition of the rebel forces and their areas in northern Syria. Intellectual laziness on the part of our State Department and the mainstream press? Stranger than fiction sometimes, how stupid people are and I spent most of my life as a homemaker, rofl.

      libertybelle

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    3. Do you think GEN Keane is aware she's the political director of this "Syrian Emergency Task Force"?

      Yes Libertybelle, thing about US Flag Rank people these days is, to get to that rank one must be Summa Cum Loudi A Political Animal - the drawback (for the military anyway) is that no longer will there be guys like Anthony Zinni. [I noticed your sidebar had a certain "independent civilianmost" Intel firm, a search of that site's archives yields clues about him no 'of this generation's General/Admiral' people have - there are more Generals/Admirals being paid by the media outlets than all the active services combined - with the exception of guys like Zinni.]

      Back when I first began commenting here Somalia came up - might Amazon a book co-authored by Clancy, Battle Ready. (I seem to recall you questioned the subject - the US figured 'boots on the ground' twice, there was a completely US run op prior to the UN thing which ended as Blackhawk Down.

      I'm sad to say, my personal knowledge of AQ and it's many subsequent offshoots presently (and it looks to be for sometime ahead) yield not for "people like us" but rather - as good ways of earning for "Experts & former Generals/Admirals" in the media/lobbying business.

      Hopefully, this Syrian lunacy will expose this - even to the most diehard Libtard. Of course the "Yeah, I'll take one of those too long as your giving it away for free" wings of both [BOTH] parties will take something else.

      What that "something else" is I can only suppose, not being an economics guy I can only guess it'll be something like, Bankrupt.

      Arkie

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  16. The Legal Insurrection post is assuming the President has the wisdom to attack Assad and destroy his stockpiles of WMD or least significantly degrade his ability to use them. I don't think Obama is that wise and his national security team that skilled and in any case the only time they did demonstrate their war making skill was in Libya. Libya was not a big problem to the US yet Obama went whole hog for regime change and we have AQ running wild in north Africa as a result. He took a not so bad situation and made it much, much worse for American national security.

    Obama has gone to Congress for permission, I hope Congress says "no" not because I don't think vital national interests aren't at stake but "no" because Obama is likely to make a bad situation much worse thru escalation or thru the ascendency of AQ should Assad fall.

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    1. James Taranto's "Best of the Web" has the best description of the current dilemma that I've seen anywhere:

      http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324886704579051432219385214.html?mod=djemBestOfTheWeb_h

      The problem with the Legal Insurrection post is that it's pretty unlikely that this strike will be able to significantly degrade Assad's ability to use WMD. Destroying the stockpiles is out of the question, since an air attack on a WMD gas depot is likely to spread collateral damage uncontrollably downwind. I'd guess that the US can at least temporarily wreck the Syrian airfields, but runways can be repaired. If we can find the aircraft and helicopters, those could be destroyed, but as far as I can tell, special rocket launchers were used in the nerve gas attacks that are the current issue.

      If that's the case, good luck in tracking down all the special rocket launchers along with nerve gas canisters. If those are found, I'd guess they'll be stored in hospitals, schools and other "civilian" locations where even precise bombing may not be a good idea.

      Or. Not.

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    2. The UK Telegraph is reporting that US DOD analysts have calculated that 75,000 boots on the ground are needed to secure Assad's WMD.

      This idiot administration's plan, which worked SO WELL in Libya, will virtually insure that those WMD are instead captured by the Islamists, just as Libya's MANPAD missiles were,

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  17. A proxy war fought by proxies of proxies. Layer upon layer of fly paper.

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  18. I seem to remember one of the earliest lessons of WWII. Surface ships can't survive without air cover. We now have at least 5 destroyers operating off the coast of Lebanon and Syria...without US Air cover. So lets assume I'm Vlad Putin and I'm looking to really stick it to the US. Lets assume I tell my naval staff to keep Assad informed minute by minute of the positions of the US destroyers. Once the US attacks, regardless if the destroyers launched a single missile, Assad gives the word to launch a few jets loaded with his C-802 anti ship missiles. They fly out over Syria into the Med, get close enough to launch, probably at least 100 km from the US fleet, then go home.

    If ships are hit, its a win for Assad and probably gets the Arab masses pouring to the streets to celebrate. If the ships aren't hit, the Arab streets probably still parties hard into the night and the US realizes it just got lucky. Serious conversations ensue about what to do next. Escalate or not? Retreat or stick around?
    Does anyone think Obama has the wisdom to figure this stuff out? Along with Chucky Hegal, JF Kerry, Susan Rice? Yikes.

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    1. The nuclear aircraft carrier USS Nimitz and 4 destroyers and a cruiser have been moved from the Arabian Sea westward and have entered the Red Sea. Public reports do not have them ordered to transit the Suez Canal, yet, but I wouldn't be surprised if that happens shortly.

      I also wonder if the Israeli missile test this morning wasn't related to checking out the Aegis Combat System on our surface ships out in the Mediterranean? There are published reports that Russia has supplied Syria with P-800 Yakhont anti-ship missiles (range 120-300 km) and maybe even some SKean 5 ground-to-sea missiles with a 250 km range.

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    2. Yes if the Nimitz was on station in the Med, that would take care of my concern. But she isn't on station and hasn't traversed the canal. Given the state of our relations with Egypt I'm not quite sure she can go thru, are you? I believe the Egyptian govt is one record opposing any US strike on Assad. Times are changing in the ME, I hope we still can get stuff done like we used too...before the arrival of Smart Diplomacy.

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    3. It's getting harder and harder in the ME to keep track of who is supporting who. In Egypt, the main backers of the current regime, the military, are the Saudi's, the UAE and Kuwait. The MB had Qatar and maybe the US (lol?). In any event, the Egyptian military will not prevent the Nimitz from going through the Suez canal . . . . . .

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    4. We'll know how confident our Command is by how far they park these vessels off the coast.

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  19. Based on the theatrical event this afternoon- boots on the ground? Kerry says no boots on the ground!- this is going to come back to bite them in the rear when things go the way the rest of the things that this misadministration seems to FUBAR. Who do they think they are kidding? Don't get me started about the Babs Boxer Apologia Speech. Do they even hear how insane they sound?

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  20. Would it be wrong to suggest that the solution in Syria would be to make sure both sides had plentiful supplies of chemical weapons?

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  21. Along Syd's line of thinking, here is my question: if Assad hid Saddam's chemical weapons in 2003, isn't it a testament to his self-restraint that he hasn't used them or sold them before? Or has he been nefariously trafficing in WMD's and the World's Leftists don't want to admit it because that pokes a hole in the Unjust Iraq War meme? Is that what this is about with the Clinton/Kerry/Pelosi "Assad Fan Club circa 2007" suddenly becoming the "Hangem' High Posse of 2013"? Was he ready to spill the beans to defend himself, and thus rat them out? Without examining the casings and actual evidence, how could we take anyone's word for it, even when based on several YouTube videos? Call me cynical, but my faith in the veracity of YouTube video blame eroded in September 2012. (Oh, and since when did all these Democrats care so much about the deaths of "hundreds" of children, when they are more concerned about access to late-term abortion?)

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  22. Is “the Israelis never killed Arafat" a good example? Considering what happened after Arafat died, killing him might have been to the Israeli’s benefit.

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