Red lines: Obama's costly bluster
August 28. 2013 10:07PM
"We must not promise what we ought not, lest we be called on to perform what we cannot." — Abraham Lincoln
Last August, President Obama drew his line in the Syrian sand. "We have been very clear to the Assad regime, but also to other players on the ground, that a red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized. That would change my calculus. That would change my equation."
A year later two things are clear: 1) There was no equation; it was just Obama talking nonsense. 2.) He bluffed without a plan.
It is an axiom of statecraft that one does not go rattling sabers if one is not prepared to stain them with an enemy's blood. Or as Napoleon put it, "One should never forbid what one lacks the power to prevent." In Obama's case, we can replace "power" with "will."
In 2007, Obama was brimming with indignation that the United States would go to war without the approval of Congress. Now he is preparing to do exactly that for the second time. With Syria, it is for the worst reason: so the President can save face.
The United States of America has no business attacking Syria. Our national security is not at stake. The one and only reason we are on the verge of war is because the President thought it personally advantageous to rattle the sabers just before the 2012 election. It is schoolyard diplomacy, but with real missiles.