September 10 2013
The Syria Crisis: Will It Be a "Teachable Moment" for President Obama?
Bret Stephens of the Wall Street Journal captures the “low dishonesty” of the Obama administration’s behavior with regard to Syria:
So much for John Kerry's "global test," circa 2004. So much for Barack Obama slamming the Bush administration for dismissing "European reservations about the wisdom and necessity of the Iraq war," circa 2007. So much for belittling foreign leaders who side with the administration as "poodles." So much for the U.N. stamp of legitimacy. So much for the "lie/die" rhyme popular with Democrats when they were accusing George W. Bush of fiddling with the WMD intelligence.
Say what you will about the prospect of a U.S. strike on Syria, it has already performed one useful service: exposing the low dishonesty, the partisan opportunism, the intellectual flabbiness, the two-bit histrionics and the dumb hysteria that was the standard Democratic attack on the Bush administration's diplomatic handling of the war in Iraq.
In politics as in life, you lie in the bed you make. The president and his secretary of state are now lying in theirs. So are we.
Unlike Bret Stephens, your humble blogger is not in favor of military action in Syria. But it has been anything but edifying to watch the collapse of U.S. foreign policy. The president of the United States has become a laughing stock, and that is bad for all of us.
Conrad Black has compared the collapse of U.S. power to the disintegration of the Soviet Union. Black chastises President Obama for going to Congress to do something Black argues he should have done on his own. But Black’s picture of a world without U.S. leadership is chilling.
There is no way to extricate the United States from this mess with honor. Democrats will seize on Vladimir Putin’s stepping in (because of Secretary of State Kerry’s own off the cuff remark) as a victory for the president. It is not. But it may extricate him from an immediate psychological need to use our missiles to make good on his careless words.
Here is what I wish (but don’t expect) from the current crisis: that President Obama would learn some humility. He blew this badly and it would be great if he could admit, if only to himself, that he failed spectacularly. He’s going to occupy the Oval Office for three more years, and it would be a better three years if he acquired some humility. A humble man could deal with Congress, which is different from seeking cover from them. A humble man might feel for all the people who are unemployed in this country and bring himself to ask the horrible question: are my policies contributing to the sum total of human misery? A humble man, moreover, would stop lecturing us and wagging his finger at us from a supposed pedestal of moral superiority.
Raise your hand if you think that this worldwide mess of his own making will humble Barack Obama.