Big Red Car here. So The Boss is still in the Carolinas helping the Cub move to his new digs in Charlotte. The Queen City is a great city and is one of those great American cities that are emerging as regional centers of growth, culture and commerce. The Boss is very high on Charlotte.
So what’s going on in Syria now with the President’s decision to put the entire Syria initiative in front of the US Congress for direction?
Why ask Congress?
The Big Red Car is not a huge fan of President Obama primarily because he is a feckless and inexperienced leader who appears to be unable to create a disciplined decision-making policy mechanism. His staff bears as much, if not more, responsibility for being unable to maintain focus — jobs, economy — while formulating a disciplined methodology with which to present decisions and solutions to the President.
Previous Presidents, like Eisenhower and Reagan, had decades of executive or military service to inform them as to how to formulate and undertake decisions. This is the product of experience and President Obama has simply not had that experience and is not good at it for that reason. This is not an indictment of the President, simply a statement of facts.
The Big Red Car cannot ski the moguls for the same reason — lack of experience. Though, of course as we all know, if the Big Red Car ever decided to cruise the bumps, well he would excel at it. [Haha, Big Red Car, you only entertain and amuse………………………….yourself. Sorry.]
The Congressional decision
The Big Red Car has a funny view on things here. The Big Red Car thinks the Congress should approve the President’s request to take action against Syria not on the merits of the case but rather because American foreign policy is the responsibility of the Executive Branch not the individual policy initiative of each Senator and Congressman.
The President must be left alone and unfettered to conduct HIS foreign policy and should therefore be given the authority to act. He should explain is foreign policy but at the end of the day, it is the job of the President to conduct the foreign policy of the United States.
Having said “not on the merits of the case”, the Big Red Car wants to acknowledge that Secretary Kerry did a superb job of framing the facts and issues. He did a damn good job of convincing a grand jury that an indictment should be handed down. He did not establish the presence of a national security threat to the United States.
The notion of “limited action” and a “shot across the bow” seem particularly ineffective. If you were Bashar al-Assad could you possibly feel more chagrined than having gone 75 MPH in a 55 MPH zone. If you do not make the Butcher of Dasmascus suffer and bleed, why should he care at all? How will you modify his behavior? The simple answer to both is that he will not care and you will not modify his behavior. He is a bastard. Bastards do not care how many shots you take across their bows. They do care about shots at their heads.
Why should the US not seek regime change as an outcome? Isn’t it the man with his finger on the trigger of the chemical weapons who has to be influenced? And isn’t killing him the ultimate message that such behavior will not be tolerated? So, let’s kill Bashar al-Assad rather than giving him a shot across the bow.
The Big Red Car does want to rag the administration a bit about having sacrificed tactical surprise. Ya’ll are sentenced to a few chapters of Sun Tzu and Clausewitz — come on, ya’ll, telegraphing our actions to our enemies? Really? That’s stuff that cadets learn their first year at the USMA (the VMI of the North) or VMI. Get with it, ya’ll.
Let’s make damn sure we understand the strategic implications.
Syria has about 22MM people. Less than Texas. The fate of Syria is not going to impact the United States militarily, strategically, economically or any manner that would rise to a national strategic interest.
Syria is a bosom buddy and ally of Iran and the two together account for almost all of the state sponsored terrorism in that region of the world. Iran has its elite units — Quds and its Republican Guard — in Syria and lending direct military support to the Assad regime. Fighting right alongside these bastards.
Syria is Russia’s last Middle Eastern ally, client state really and big buyer of Russian armaments. The Russians are spoiling for an opportunity to embarrass the United States as a means toward rebuilding their lost former superpower prestige. Putin, in particular, enjoys poking his thumb in President Obama’s eye and the President has given him a lot of opportunities to use his opposable thumb for just that purpose.
The United States has endured a number of unfortunate but self inflicted embarrassments including its bad call on two Egyptian regimes, the notion of “leading from behind” in Libya, the Benghazi incident, the continuing and ineffective Iranian sanctions, the cooling of the Israeli relationship, loss of any strategic position in Iraq effectively allowing Iraq to slip back into darkness and the surrender of Afghanistan to the Taliban.
The Middle East views the Obama administration as ripe for provocation, ineffective in its diplomatic efforts and now militarily indecisive. We are losing our way in the Middle East.
Actions speak louder than words
To compound the impact of the President retreat from threatened action — he of red lines and consequences — you have the obvious messaging contained in the President’s failure to call Congress back into session immediately coupled with his decision to play a bit of golf. The impending unleashing of military action, the use of chemical weapons are of such importance that the President……………………went out to play golf.
So what do we get instead?
Speeches from guys who wear Hermes ties. The ultimate American response to everything these days. Bit of showmanship. Bit of brinksmanship. Big of posturing.
And, then, speeches from guys who wear Hermes ties. America’s national strategic interests are not advanced by speeches from guys in Hermes ties. Sorry.