President Obama is prepared to move ahead with a limited military strike on Syria, administration officials said Thursday, despite a stinging rejection of such action by America’s stalwart ally Britain and mounting questions from Congress. [New York Times]
THE BRITS aren’t coming and President Obama doesn’t care. The state senator from Illinois who gave the anti Iraq war speech has drawn a red line in his own mind and it’s on the use of chemical weapons against innocent civilians. Anyone thinking that’s inconsistent is incorrect, but with Iraq as a backdrop, isolationism is all the rage.
In Iraq Mr. Bush was explicitly seeking regime change. In this case, White House officials argue, Mr. Obama is trying to enforce an international ban on chemical weapons and seeking to prevent their use in Syria, or against American allies.
“We have been trying to get the U.N. Security Council to be more assertive on Syria even before this incident,” said Benjamin J. Rhodes, the deputy national security adviser for strategic communications. “The problem is that the Russians won’t vote for any accountability.”
The decision to proceed without Britain is remarkable, however. Even in the Iraq war, Mr. Bush relied on what he called a “coalition of the willing,” led by Britain. Mr. Obama has made clear that this initiative would come from the United States, and that while he welcomed international participation, he was not depending on foreign forces for what would essentially be an operation conducted largely by the United States, from naval vessels off the Syrian coast.
Mr. Rhodes and other aides rejected comparisons between this case and that of Mr. Bush in 2003, and noted that Mr. Obama was still actively seeking allied participation. “There is no direct parallel with 2003, given that the United States at that time had to prove the existence of weapons of mass destruction in a country where we were going to do a military intervention aimed at regime change,” Mr. Rhodes said.
Obama Set for Limited Strike on Syria as British Vote No [New York Times]
The rest of the world is choosing isolationism, taking a step back from making Bashar al Assad pay for his atrocities and escalation against his people, including chemical weapons on women and children. Reports across the web proclaim David Cameron’s rebuke from the British parliament, and on the popular phone app Flipboard photos show Colin Powell next to John Kerry, the caption reading “Fool me twice… again shame on you.”
Isolationism in the face of Assad using chemical weapons on civilians, including children, sends a harrowing message on a new international standard of timidity.
President Obama must now get congressional support, as well as speak to the nation directly about why America must act as the world turns away.
Americans strongly oppose U.S. intervention in Syria’s civil war and believe Washington should stay out of the conflict even if reports that Syria’s government used deadly chemicals to attack civilians are confirmed, a Reuters/Ipsos poll says. About 60 percent of Americans surveyed said the United States should not intervene in Syria’s civil war, while just 9 percent thought President Barack Obama should act. [Reuters]