MUHAMMAD: Obama Dodges Bullet after Syria Bungle

Askia Muhammad | 9/18/2013, 3 p.m.
Even as I was researching, compiling and cataloging the sins of President Barack Obama in his talked-about, immoral, surgical-attack-on-Syrian-chemical-weapons gambit, ...
President Obama meets Aug. 31, 2013, in the Situation Room with his national security advisers to discuss strategy in Syria. (Pete Souza/The White House)

Even as I was researching, compiling and cataloging the sins of President Barack Obama in his talked-about, immoral, surgical-attack-on-Syrian-chemical-weapons gambit, I was thinking to myself all the time: “Self, don’t count Obama out. He’s got a guardian angel on his shoulder.” And sure enough, he does.

That angel saved the president from certain political humiliation before the world as he sought to do the bidding of those who commanded him to draw that so-called “red line” in the first place that he warned the Syrian government to not cross lest it provoke U.S. intervention in the bloody and ugly two-year-old civil war. That “red line” was the use of chemical weapons.

So on Aug. 21 someone unleashed a chemical attack in Syria which would almost certainly lead to a military attack against government forces degrading the government’s ability to continue racking up battlefield victories, as had been the case during the last couple of months. As it had been in the Libyan uprising, the U.S. intervention might have proven decisive, weakening the government and allowing the opposition forces to topple the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. It was a foolproof plan, and President Obama was turning out to be just the fool to prove it.

With very little evidence of who the actual perpetrator of the chemical attack had been the president and his team relied on endless pictures of suffering victims of the attack, tugging at the heartstrings of all decent people who looked on.

But after having been led into an immoral war against another formerly militant Arab country – Iraq – based on false claims by the U.S. government that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein had an arsenal of weapons of mass destruction, world public opinion, U.S. public opinion, Arab public opinion, all lined up against the threatened use of military force by the U.S. against Syria this time.

In the face of a huge backlash against U.S. military action, the president decided to “punt” the ball downfield, into the hands of Congress, which he asked to do what the U.N. would never do; what the Arab League refused to do; and what this country’s closest ally the United Kingdom refused to do; and that was authorize U.S. military action against Syria.

Then, when Secretary of State John Kerry inadvertently suggested that war could be averted if Syria relinquished its chemical weapons to international control, Russian President Vladimir Putin jumped on the idea, and his Syrian counterpart agreed that the country would destroy its chemical arsenal. Oops.

What was a war-weary world to do, except accept the deal and make it happen? The war mongers were incensed. No U.S. military attack? No U.S. enforced “no fly zone” over Syria? No decisive U.S. intervention that would tip the war in the favor of the rebels? No unintended consequences of the war that wasn’t to be?

In the meantime, President Obama had literally dodged the bullet which he himself had fired. An attack by the U.S.; a war against Syria was a bad idea in the first place, no matter who all voted to authorize it. And on top of that, Congress was not likely to approve it, leaving the president shame-faced before the world and forced to order a military strike all by his lonesome. So now, with Syria agreeing to a strenuous schedule regarding dismantling its chemical arsenal, peace was breaking out all over the place.