September 10 2013
Vladimir Putin is very much the man of the hour. The American president? Not so much.
Victor Davis Hanson dubs Putin the “bare-chested Machiavelli.” Hanson writes:
Without much effort, his Alice-in-Wonderland proposal of collecting WMD from Assad, in the midst of a civil war no less (does this mean a mandatory 24-hour time-out so that U.N. inspectors can rush in with clipboards and audit the ten warring sides?), all at once seems to have kept his Mediterranean coastal client Bashar Assad not just alive, but with the upper hand in the war just by — in theory, though unlikely in fact — eliminating 1 percent of the combined killing capacity so far demonstrated in the fighting.
Putin, the leveler of Grozny, and absolutely callous to the first 99,000 killed in Syria, has advertised to the world his humanitarian empathy in preventing an American-led, new escalation of the war, supposedly to be waged over the last 1,000 dead.
Syria: Barack Obama Hands the World to Vladimir Putin
Mr. Putin will have been handed the most spectacular public relations victory imaginable and the Assad regime will go its murderous way into the indefinite future. American resolve and integrity will have taken a blow from which it may take a generation to recover. (Maybe Mr. Obama should offer to give Mr. Putin his Nobel Peace Prize?) However you felt about the prospect of the US intervening in yet another Middle Eastern country, this is an ignominious chapter in American diplomatic history.
Some Democrats are jubilantly seizing upon Putin’s intervention as a way to get President Obama out of a colossal hole of his own digging. But—really—it isn’t much of a fig leaf. We all know it’s a charade: Syria will say it has given its WMDs to Russia and “the international community,” whoever that is, and Russia will pretend that this is the case. NB: the U.S. role in all this appears to be pretty paltry.
President Obama’s historic shaming of himself and the nation he leads is based on two factors: an ideology that distrusts American might, which has gotten the world out of so many jams in the past, and his own character.
A less vain man would never have gotten us into this historic mess with careless words aimed at making himself look good. A less vain man would not have taken us to the brink of war solely to make good on his own empty words. A less vain man would not have believed that by his mere elevation to the presidency the world would change.
National Review has the text of Senator Mitch McConnell’s speech announcing that he will be a “no” vote on Syria. The vote has been postponed, probably indefinitely, but I urge you to read McConnell’s speech. It is principled and shows knowledge of the world our unseasoned president lacks. McConnell is extremely tough without being rude. Also an adult. Memo to Voters: Next time we elect a president, let's pick somebody who's not used to having people swoon over him.
Meanwhile, things go from bad to worse in Syria. Hot Air quotes a tweet from NBC’s Richard Engel saying that a distraught Syrian doctor called him and said that, if the U.S. doesn’t strike, all the rebels will go al Qaeda. Let’s hope the doc’s words are as empty as the president’s. The time for doing anything in Syria was two years ago.