It seems to be going pretty well, all things considered. Syria has agreed to give up it's chemical arms and appears to be doing so. Now obviously ending the civil war would be great from a humanitarian standpoint, but I don't think anyone has the ability to do that other than the Syrians themselves at this point. So blaming Obama for not ending the war is just classic Green Lanternism.Ironically Obama might have even gotten Congress to reassert it's role when it comes to getting into foreign adventures. The Republicans that helped shoot the idea of strikes down where probably motivated by their deep rooted hatred of Obama as much as anything else, but if that sets a precedent for future President having to go to Congress before future foreign adventures, well then I'm all for that.
Obama has rightly made global nuclear disarmament a high priority. For any sort of nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament regime to work, it would have to follow the path of the chemical weapons ban. So the undermining of the chemical weapons ban over Syria--which is where things were headed before Obama's saber-rattling--would have been a big deal. And now the chemical weapon ban is quite plainly in force. Altogether, a good outcome, and important.
He hasn't in anyway made nuclear disarmament a priority. He allows the Israelis to keep their nukes in the shadows and has complied less with nuke reductions than the Russians. What he wants is the U.S to maintain nuclear dominance. That isn't good for most people being that we are the only country inhuman enough to actually use these weapons.
I agree with Anonymous at 7:27 p.m.Indeed, I would go one step further. I think anyone who obtains nuclear weapons as a defense against US attack is morally justified in doing so. We've bombed too many countries already, and murdered too many people, and that seems to be the only thing that deters our imperialist government from trying to dominate the world.Nuclear proliferation would be bad in a world with no imperialist hegemonic evil empire. But in the current world, it's the only check on our limitless power. I hope more countries do the right thing and obtain the bomb, until we have to back down and stop bombing everywhere.
I still am not convinced that either we need to intervene in Syria because they killed x number of people with chemical weapons rather than x number of people with bullets or that there was a way for us to intervene that would have accomplished anything worthwhile at an acceptable cost. Since we actually haven't intervened yet, I guess I'm mildly positive about the President's actions.
My sense is that he wanted to intervene but faced a lot of pushback from the party, public, and international community and so backed down. As with the Fed nomination, I wouldn't say I'm exactly happy with the President, but glad that he is apparently somewhat willing to be persuaded by strong liberal opposition.
Your "sense"? On the other hand, we have the Obama administration's stated goal (enforce CW ban), actions consistent with that goal, and (so far) success. And intervene why? We don't even want the rebels to win--don't want the theocracy that would follow.
It seems to have worked out well. But I don't have enough confidence in the administration to think that it was planned this way. I still think Obama backed himself into a corner and we are all lucky that we got this resolution, which seems to be good all around.
Chemical weapons are in a different class for reasons of direct self-interest as well as trying to validate wider WMD restrictions. Attention to them is necessary to forestall them getting into terrorist hands. Thus the threat of limited action, Putin putting his own reputation on the line to eliminate the chemical weapons and the early success are an optimal solution. Even if dumb luck, it was luck that was seized upon. the minimal weapons to rebels after dragging his feet for two years looks like a political calculation.
Like all of his foreign policy, I am disappointed. My support for Obama over Hillary in the primary was rooted in the belief that he would support a de-emphasis on military action in the conduct of foreign policy. Obama has proved this belief wrong from his fear mongering on Iran to his lust for war against Syria.
I guess I disagree with this. Any bluster so far has come to nothing--a diplomatic solution (work in progress) to Syria's chemical weapons, and the potential of one in Iran. With Bush, I'd have to check statements, but it seemed like he was saying that he was interested in diplomacy, but just crashed ahead with war. I'd rather Obama grumble about wars and not actually fight them. The HUGE caveat is that this is all W.I.P.
TBF -- Obama's bluster came to nothing because he was thwarted by public opinion, which was overwhelmingly against the policy he was advocating for.
We'll see how things go, but there are certainly promising diplomatic developments. It's worth remembering that this was only made possible by stopping Obama's actual policy goal, which was to discourage future wmd use by bombing Syrian government forces. For partisan reasons, the liberal establishment has been willing to give Obama a pass on national security issues time-after-time. But this time, Obama was stopped by a spontaneous reaction of the people themselves. Official Washington and the media seemed to fear that this would result in a cringe-worthy humiliation of Obama and even the nation itself. And yet we're seeing a reasonably positive outcome (certainly better than anything expected to come from of lobbing cruise missiles) and the political credibility of Obama is not hobbled, even when thwarted on such a high profile issue. As for our national credibility, any time the people's voice is heard, and that voice is for wise policy, that only shows the strength of our system. Ultimately, the US will only maintain its power by pursuing a foreign policy that is closely aligned with domestic opinion -- there is a disconnect in this regard that will take real leadership to address. But to my initial point -- we've learned that thwarting the President when he tries to act in illiberal ways is a demonstrably good thing.
Dear Couves, This comment is all so far so good. However, as you are simultaneously commenting on the conservative side, and as I do remember in general (but not in detail) numerous comments of yours at which I could have taken thousands of words of issue, wouldn't it be polite to at least give yourself an introduction of IANAL in cases like this? Yours In Love of Personal and Political Liberty, Ron B
Ron, I assume that all of the regulars here know that I'm a libertarian. In any case, I happen to agree with liberals on national security, and I'd like to see the Democratic party behave more liberal on these issues. I hope that you can at least accept my goodwill in this regard :)
True, but plenty of new people around all the time -- I generally support the point here (and not just here; over on the "question for conservatives" too). Not a big deal, but I think the best etiquette on these would be a very short disclaimer.
So conventional wisdom was that targeted strikes from the air (which is all Obama proposed to do) weren't going to do any good. But the threat of them got the Syrian government to agree to give up their chemical weapons, and so far it seems to be working out.While the GOP accidentally gave Obama a break by diverting attention from the ACA rollout problems, they've also diverted attention from some other promising foreign policy stories, such as Iran and a pulse to Middle East peace.
The chem weapons thing is going well, but it's still too bad that we didn't set up a safe haven along the Turkish border two years ago for the Free Syrian Army to organize the people. I think it could still happen while excluding the Al Qaeda types.
A lot of the criticism of Obama's handling of Syria (I don't mean in this thread, but among pundits in general) seems to be based on a mania for consistency. Obama made a threat that he was never enthusiastic about, was handed an outcome better than he could have expected from unilateral action without having to do what he didn't want to do in the first place, and then accepted the offer instead of carrying through on the threat. This was then condemned as inconsistent rather than successful, or successful but not in the way planned. Gee, what a shame. I would think someone would see it as flexible enough to recognize and achieve a superior opportunity when one presents itself.Other criticisms focus on his acceptance of an offer from Putin, which somehow made Putin legitimate or drew Putin into the Syrian scenario, thus giving the Russians an undeserved victory over us. I hate to say it, but Putin was already in the Syrian scenario, and it's better having him on the inside helping to carry out an agreement than on the outside acting as a spoiler. For that matter, Iran is also in the Syrian scenario, and it might be better to include Iran in broader peace negotiations than to pretend that it can be made irrelevant simply by ignoring it.The relationship with the Free Syrian Army is more complicated. This carries a greater threat of involving the United States in the war than Obama's missile strike threat ever did. It's also complicated by the fact that the insurgency does not consist of one al-Qa'ida crowd and one anti-al-Qa'ida crowd. There are a hodge podge of groups with various shadings of ideology, or which contain various strands within them, or have no ideology at all; and ad hoc alliances constantly form and shift among them. They don't necessarily agree with our breakdown of who's acceptable to work with and who is not, and some resent our requirements as to who can get our weapons. The US, in general, cannot expect to supply them from afar and control the outcome on the ground.http://foreignpolicyblogs.com/2013/10/09/the-syrian-insurgency/
Flexible? Did Obama have a choice? I mean, between his newfound constitutional scruples and significant political constraints imposed by overwhelming public opposition (which could have even included impeachment) I don't think anyone was surprised when he choose not to launch cruise missiles.Putin was the real statesman in this scenario -- he served his national interest without drawing blood (or even threatening to do so), but instead by offering a negotiated solution that provided value to everyone involved.
It seems unlikely that Putin would have made the offer if Obama hadn't made the threat; he'd never offered it before. If you think Obama didn't have any other choices, just look at how many people criticized him for the choice he made. I think the more interesting question is whether Putin thought Obama would have struck without Congress's support (assuming that he believed that Congress wouldn't support him in the end, which we don't really know either) and/or if he thought the prospect of Congress standing in the way would make Obama more open to a deal than he would have been otherwise.
Also, I never said Putin wasn't being a statesman.
Ok, so if Obama was seriously considering bombing without Congressional authorization, then I guess we have to assume that his constitutional scruples were insincere and that he was prepared to commit political suicide. I just don't buy that.As for Putin, I think the deciding factor was the opportunity to heighten the prestige of Russia.
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At The Washington Post
At The American Prospect