Will President Obama Wear His Nobel Peace Prize Medal When He Bombs Syria?

by PETER LEE

For all you anti-war types sniggering over President Obama’s well-deserved Syria travails, just remember: he’s the president of the United States, and he can do something about it.

Not to you.  To Syria.

Especially if he has to attack Syria without congressional approval, I find it unlikely President Obama will give some Syrian army munitions dump a symbolic, admonitory plink and then return to business as usual in Washington as a neutered lame duck (assuming that ducks can be neutered*).

No, I think he will give serious thoughts to doubling down in order to 1) rebut accusations of wimpish impotence and 2) bury the memory of the humiliating debate under a serious, prolonged, and seriously distracting barrage of ordinance.

So we might be treated to a Syrian version of the miraculously expanding Libyan no-fly zone (the Libyan air force was destroyed within a week or so, but NATO kept bombing targets for months anyway).  Every Syrian army base, government office, warehouse, truck, and toilet could be deemed a possible WMD sanctuary and plastered accordingly.

Bombings would continue until President Obama’s morale improves (perhaps when the insurrectionists get their act together and the regime finally falls and we can start criticizing President Obama for his bloodthirsty red-line enforcement manliness instead of his effete red-line tap dancing wussitude).

In the process, President Obama would have to abandon his fading hopes of a Yemen-style regime transition Defcon 3 fuckup in Syria in favor of a Libyan regime collapse Defcon 4 type fuckup.

I find it remarkable that all the talk is about President Obama’s Iraq War-inspired squeamishness for intervention in Syria.  The real precedent is Libya which, Benghazi or no Benghazi, is a snowballing failing state train wreck, fueled by a stand-off air offensive and virtually no ability to control outcomes on the ground, which no president in his right mind would want to duplicate.

If, as I believe, Saudi Arabia has intransigently worked against the transition formula (and, in the possibility that dares not speak its name in polite company, perhaps the KSA helped arrange a false flag chemical weapons outrage that pushed President Bush into his current red line cul-de-sac), I wonder if President Obama is also casting around for a way to avenge his humiliation at the hands of Prince Bandar.

Hey, how about peace with Iran?  That would really stick in Bandar’s craw.

I also think that John Kerry can start taking some long weekends and long vacations.  Nobody’s going to be missing him at the office.

He was not President Obama’s first choice as Secretary of State and his performance as war salesman has been well short of outstanding (which might be attributed to an admirable inner conflict between his defining personal history as an anti-war veteran and the full-bore warmongering demanded by his office, as well as his full-bore shortcomings as a public persuader).  Susan Rice’s self-righteous R2P invective would have given the President more political breathing room than John Kerry’s awkward verbal meandering.

For that matter, I wonder who’ll take the fall for the “let’s let Congress vote on it” brainwave.  All that’s done is highlight the fact that the American public is unenthusiastic about the attack and President Obama has to go out there for some inglorious and unpopular armtwisting to get a vote he might have to ignore anyway.

Now President Obama has to sell the war himself and explicitly frame the resolution to unhappy Democrats as a matter of his personal credibility and effectiveness during the last two years of his administration.  Grrrr.  Giving his party some political cover in return is another reason to go for more bombs and deliver a bigger foreign policy “win”.

If Hillary Clinton had still been Secretary of State, she might have advised President Obama to tell Congress to stick the vote up its cloakroom and launch an attack from the git-go by executive order.  And it might have been a quicker, smaller attack than the big, face-saving, clout-preserving, and legacy-building attack that I am expecting.

*Answer: No, they can’t.

Peter Lee edits China Matters. His ground-breaking story on North Korea’s nuclear program, Japan’s Resurgent Militarism, appears in the March issue of CounterPunch magazine. He can be reached at: chinamatters (at) prlee. org.

Peter Lee edits China Matters and writes about Asia for CounterPunch.  

Like What You’ve Read? Support CounterPunch
Weekend Edition
August 28-30, 2015
Jeffrey St. Clair
Long Time Coming, Long Time Gone
Mike Whitney
Looting Made Easy: the $2 Trillion Buyback Binge
Randy Blazak
Donald Trump is the New Face of White Supremacy
Alan Nasser
The Myth of the Middle Class: Have Most Americans Always Been Poor?
Rob Urie
Wall Street and the Cycle of Crises
Andrew Levine
Viva Trump?
Ismael Hossein-Zadeh
Behind the Congressional Disagreements Over the Iran Nuclear Deal
Lawrence Ware – Marcus T. McCullough
I Won’t Say Amen: Three Black Christian Clichés That Must Go
Evan Jones
Zionism in Britain: a Neglected Chronicle
John Wight
Learning About the Migration Crisis From Ancient Rome
Andre Vltchek
Lebanon – What if it Fell?
Charles Pierson
How the US and the WTO Crushed India’s Subsidies for Solar Energy
Robert Fantina
Hillary Clinton, Palestine and the Long View
Ben Burgis
Gore Vidal Was Right: What Best of Enemies Leaves Out
Suzanne Gordon
How Vets May Suffer From McCain’s Latest Captivity
Robert Sandels - Nelson P. Valdés
The Cuban Adjustment Act: the Other Immigration Mess
Uri Avnery
The Molten Three: Israel’s Aborted Strike on Iran
John Stanton
Israel’s JINSA Earns Return on Investment: 190 Americans Admirals and Generals Oppose Iran Deal
Bill Yousman
The Fire This Time: Ta-Nehisi Coates’s “Between the World and Me”
Scott Parkin
Katrina Plus Ten: Climate Justice in Action
Michael Welton
The Conversable World: Finding a Compass in Post-9/11 Times
Brian Cloughley
Don’t be Black in America
Kent Paterson
In Search of the Great New Mexico Chile Pepper in a Post-NAFTA Era
Binoy Kampmark
Live Death on Air: The Killings at WDBJ
Gui Rochat
The Guise of American Democracy
Emma Scully
Vultures Over Puerto Rico: the Financial Implications of Dependency
Chuck Churchill
Is “White Skin Privilege” the Key to Understanding Racism?
Kathleen Wallace
The Id(iots) Emerge
Andrew Stewart
Zionist Hip-Hop: a Critical Look at Matisyahu
Gregg Shotwell
The Fate of the UAW: Study, Aim, Fire
Halyna Mokrushyna
Decentralization Reform in Ukraine
Norman Pollack
World Capitalism, a Basket Case: A Layman’s View
Sarah Lazare
Listening to Iraq
John Laforge
NSP/Xcel Energy Falsified Welding Test Documents on Rad Waste Casks
Wendell G Bradley
Drilling for Wattenberg Oil is Not Profitable
Joy First
Wisconsin Walk for Peace and Justice: Nine Arrested at Volk Field
Mel Gurtov
China’s Insecurity
Mateo Pimentel
An Operator’s Guide to Trump’s Racism
Yves Engler
Harper Conservatives and Abuse of Power
Michael Dickinson
Police Guns of Brixton: Another Unarmed Black Shot by London Cops
Ron Jacobs
Daydream Sunset: a Playlist
Charles R. Larson
The Beginning of the Poppy Wars: Amitav Ghosh’s “Flood of Fire”
David Yearsley
A Rising Star Over a Dark Forest
August 27, 2015
Sam Husseini
Foreign Policy, Sanders-Style: Backing Saudi Intervention
Brad Evans – Henry A. Giroux
Self-Plagiarism and the Politics of Character Assassination: the Case of Zygmunt Bauman