We’re Not Playing Risk Here

September 4th, 2013

If the past couple of weeks haven’t convinced the American people how important it is to choose a president with some executive experience I don’t know what will.

Obama’s decision-making regarding Syria is truly painful to watch.  In his press conference with Swedish Prime Minister Frederik Reinfeldt today, Obama compounded the mess he’s made with the following declaration, “I didn’t set a red line.  The world set a red line.”

He went on to blame everyone but himself for the world’s current conundrum by adding, “My credibility’s not on the line.  The international community’s credibility’s on the line.”

It appears that after fits and starts at carrying out foreign policy, President Obama is now applying the Groucho Marx approach, as he does so often on other matters, which is to live by the credo, “Who are you going to believe, me or your lying eyes?”

In this case, it’s our “lying ears” that are at issue, but the same basic principle applies. It’s never Obama’s fault even when he’s clearly messed up.

Regardless of where one stands on Syria, I think it’s hard to argue that this is America’s finest moment on the world stage.  I know a few folks over at MSNBC are trying to present this entire debacle as some stealth strategy by a brilliant political leader, but I just don’t see how the facts bear this out.

First, the president failed to build a coalition against Syria’s use of chemical weapons although he’s had more than ample time to do so.  Evidently, he felt confident that just by uttering the words “red line” he could prevent Bashar al-Assad from daring cross that line.  Clearly, this was a gross miscalculation.  Apparently, it never dawned on him that Assad might actually find Obama potentially weak enough that Obama’s words might constitute nothing more than an idle threat.

Next, Obama positioned U.S. warships to strike Syria and then sent (or allowed—it’s hard to figure out exactly who is in charge these days) Secretary of State John Kerry to make a powerful and emotional statement that sounded an awful lot like the order to shoot was imminent.

It all looked very serious.  In fact, Israelis became so concerned that thousands of them waited for hours on Friday to pick up gas masks for their personal protection and the Israeli army was put on high alert.

Then Obama changed his mind.

He decided that he’d go ahead and get Congress to weigh in on the situation.  Mind you, he hasn’t cared a wit about Congress up to this point.  In fact, he’s taken every opportunity go around Congress and do exactly what he wants to do on every issue imaginable.  This particular situation is especially perplexing since he claims he doesn’t even need Congress to act.  So why is he doing this except to find some sort of cover for himself if this all goes very badly?

In the meantime, Assad is taking the additional time to move assets and take verbal jabs at Obama and the United States.

I could understand this entire “strategy” if he was playing that very entertaining “game of global domination,” Risk. I’ve played that game many times with friends and family members, and it never fails that there is always someone who can’t make up his mind or who confidently thinks that the secret to winning is to control South America only to realize too late that she’d made a huge strategic error.

The big difference, of course, is that Risk is a game.  No one really dies and the whole world can’t literally be turned upside down by erratic or even ill-advised decisions.

In today’s press conference, one reporter asked Obama how he can reconcile the fact that he won the Nobel Peace Prize with the reality that he currently has guns drawn on Syria and is itching to shoot.

In his response, he began by noting that when he accepted that award he’d made clear that he was one of the least accomplished recipients in recent memory.

That is the understatement of the century and sadly is being proven true more and more every day.

Can the world survive a superpower president’s on the job training in foreign affairs?

Stay tuned.