LEON: Obama's Irresponsible Rhetoric Exacerbates Global Tensions

Dr. Wilmer J. Leon III | 9/11/2013, 3 p.m.
It is now generally accepted as fact that on Aug. 21, 2013, a nerve agent, probably sarin gas was used ...
President Obama talks with advisers in the Oval Office on Sept. 10, 2013. Attendees include (from left) Tony Blinken, Deputy National Security Adviser; Phil Gordon, White House Coordinator for the Middle East, North Africa, and the Gulf Region; National Security Adviser Susan E. Rice; and Chief of Staff Denis McDonough. (Pete Souza/White House)

First question, when did the American government, when did President Obama become the spokesperson for the world? Second question, if the world is so aghast at this attack why is most of the “world” against American intervention into the Syrian Civil War? Is it possible that the “world” does not equate their interests with American interests?

It is important to understand that the Syrian “rebels” are not a monolith. There are a number of factors, some political, religious, and cultural that are motivating different groups to engage in war. Also, within those factors are various actors that have different if not conflicting motivations. It is possible that defectors from the Assad regime have given access to chemical stockpiles to certain rebel forces. It is possible that al Qaeda affiliated forces have used chemical weapons with the hope of drawing the US into the conflict. With US intervention in the conflict it becomes an easier recruiting tool for al Qaeda affiliated forces. These are just a few examples of why the “world” is not so quick to cast their lots with US action.

One of the factors driving President Obama is the fact that he has backed himself into a corner with his own irresponsible rhetoric. He never should have used the term “red line” to begin with. Just as the adage is “don’t pull a gun on a person unless you are prepared to use it” there is also an adage in diplomatic circles, “don’t draw a line in the sand unless you are prepared to take action if it is crossed.”

Now that President Obama has injected the “red line” into the Syrian Civil War; if he fails to act; what does that say about his “red line” with Iran? The Israeli newspaper Haaretz has laid this out very clearly, “A president cannot commit his nation to a red line if he is also committed to securing congressional approval before responding to the crossing of that red line. What if Congress denies approval? Must the president still keep his red line commitment? If he does not, what does this say about other red line commitments, such as that made regarding Iran’s efforts to secure nuclear weapons?”

It was also irresponsible for President Obama to say, “I have decided that the United States should take military action against Syrian regime targets… But having made my decision as Commander-in-Chief based on what I am convinced is our national security interests… I've made a second decision: I will seek authorization for the use of force from the American people's representatives in Congress.” That’s not a “decision” that’s inconsistent muttering and doublespeak.

The Syrian Civil War is a perilous situation. This is not the time for inconsistent and dangerous rhetoric. President Obama continues to talk in the “world” context but the longer this plays out the more it looks like he’s going to have to go it alone. He has indicated that he is prepared to do that, the problem is he will go it alone at our expense.

Dr. Wilmer Leon is the producer/host of the Sirisu/XM Satellite radio channel 110 call-in talk radio program “Inside the Issues with Leon.” Go to www.wilmerleon.com or email him at wjl3us@yahoo.com.  Follow him on Twitter @drwleon and Dr. Leon’s Prescription at Facebook.com.