FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

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.  

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
January 20, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Divide and Rule: Class, Hate, and the 2016 Election
Andrew Levine
When Was America Great?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: This Ain’t a Dream No More, It’s the Real Thing
Yoav Litvin
Making Israel Greater Again: Justice for Palestinians in the Age of Trump
Linda Pentz Gunter
Nuclear Fiddling While the Planet Burns
Ruth Fowler
Standing With Standing Rock: Of Pipelines and Protests
David Green
Why Trump Won: the 50 Percenters Have Spoken
Dave Lindorff
Imagining a Sanders Presidency Beginning on Jan. 20
Pete Dolack
Eight People Own as Much as Half the World
Roger Harris
Too Many People in the World: Names Named
Steve Horn
Under Tillerson, Exxon Maintained Ties with Saudi Arabia, Despite Dismal Human Rights Record
John Berger
The Nature of Mass Demonstrations
Stephen Zielinski
It’s the End of the World as We Know It
David Swanson
Six Things We Should Do Better As Everything Gets Worse
Alci Rengifo
Trump Rex: Ancient Rome’s Shadow Over the Oval Office
Brian Cloughley
What Money Can Buy: the Quiet British-Israeli Scandal
Mel Gurtov
Donald Trump’s Lies And Team Trump’s Headaches
Kent Paterson
Mexico’s Great Winter of Discontent
Norman Solomon
Trump, the Democrats and the Logan Act
David Macaray
Attention, Feminists
Yves Engler
Demanding More From Our Media
James A Haught
Religious Madness in Ulster
Dean Baker
The Economics of the Affordable Care Act
Patrick Bond
Tripping Up Trumpism Through Global Boycott Divestment Sanctions
Robert Fisk
How a Trump Presidency Could Have Been Avoided
Robert Fantina
Trump: What Changes and What Remains the Same
David Rosen
Globalization vs. Empire: Can Trump Contain the Growing Split?
Elliot Sperber
Dystopia
Dan Bacher
New CA Carbon Trading Legislation Answers Big Oil’s Call to Continue Business As Usual
Wayne Clark
A Reset Button for Political America
Chris Welzenbach
“The Death Ship:” An Allegory for Today’s World
Uri Avnery
Being There
Peter Lee
The Deep State and the Sex Tape: Martin Luther King, J. Edgar Hoover, and Thurgood Marshall
Patrick Hiller
Guns Against Grizzlies at Schools or Peace Education as Resistance?
Randy Shields
The Devil’s Real Estate Dictionary
Ron Jacobs
Singing the Body Electric Across Time
Ann Garrison
Fifty-five Years After Lumumba’s Assassination, Congolese See No Relief
Christopher Brauchli
Swing Low Alabama
Dr. Juan Gómez-Quiñones
La Realidad: the Realities of Anti-Mexicanism
Jon Hochschartner
The Five Least Animal-Friendly Senate Democrats
Pauline Murphy
Fighting Fascism: the Irish at the Battle of Cordoba
Susan Block
#GoBonobos in 2017: Happy Year of the Cock!
Louis Proyect
Is Our Future That of “Sense8” or “Mr. Robot”?
Charles R. Larson
Review: Robert Coover’s “Huck out West”
David Yearsley
Manchester-by-the-Sea and the Present Catastrophe
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail