US involvement in Syria is another manifestation of lackluster, indecisive US policy. President Obama had a chance to arm a third force, a non-Islamist moderate group of rebels and failed. As a result, the conflict there has become polarized between two major Islamist groups, the Hezbollah greatly assisting President Assad, and a mixture of Islamists (including Al-Qaeda) at the forefront of the rebel cause, which includes many non-Islamist factions.
The risk of a desperate reaction by an indecisive president Obama is for him to take feverish, impetuous steps to silence his critics by shooting himself out of a canon, without a clearly thought out plan at the expense of thousands who will absorb his fervor – and his crushing bombs. This is a dangerous combination of juggling one’s personal issues and personal failures with the lives of thousands of innocent people.
In retrospect, and consistent with the above, President Obama has not been an example of strong leadership. He even admitted recently in a speech in Jerusalem that he is “merely” a politician waiting for the masses (right or wrong?) to tell him what to do. In that regard, reading between the lines does not necessitate the help of a “rocket scientist.” What he was saying to the students was that he was waiting for the people, the students, to do the right thing for peace in the Middle East as he, as a weak, indecisive politician, was incapable of stepping up as a great leader to take the necessary risks, even risking his money and power, to do the right thing. An example of doing the right thing would be to place conditions on US aid (over 3 billion yearly) to Israel to pressure it, among other ways, to stop approving the building and extending of the settlements on confiscated Palestinian land in the West Bank as well as stop approving the building of apartments for Israeli Jews in East Jerusalem. Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, including the creation of settlements on Palestinian land and transferring Israeli citizens to inhabit them, has been condemned more than once by the International Court of Justice.
By making the statement that he is a mere “politician”, he apparently refuses to follow the lead of great leaders, such as F.D.R. who nationalized US banks in the face of overwhelming hostility by especially his own constituents. He even risked committing political hari kari to do the right thing. That is what real “leaders” do! However, with courage, intelligence, and patience he convinced Americans it was the right thing to do to pull them out of economic disaster. He was subsequently re-elected for another term of office.
One could furthermore ask on what grounds is the US basing its decision to bomb Syria? Assuming it has been definitively proven that Mr. Assad used chemical weapons, his actions are clearly in violation of international law. But should it be enforced by a small group of countries led by the US? Does the US need to thrust forward as the World Police, Billy club in hand? I suppose the US has never violated international law, nor has it been an accomplice in aiding and abetting another country systematically violating international law. One example, among others, is the blind support in the form of financial and military aid to Israel by the US government which allows the former to continue its unbridled occupation of the West Bank. As an American, I am not proud of the rampant hypocrisy of the US government. .
- In fact, Mr. Obama appears to ignore three red flags that should tell him to engage in this crisis with more caution:
- For the first time in years, the UK has voted not to support US military endeavors, especially in the Middle East.
- For the first time since before Mubarak became the dictator of Egypt, the leaders in charge of government there (now the Egyptian Military) have denied support of US military actions to bomb Syria.
A potential military response to the bombing by Hezbollah and Iran may erupt in a 3rd world war in the Middle East.
However, in spite of Mr. Obama’s ostensible concern with public opinion (even though the polls show Americans disapprove of the bombing) by his endless queries of politicians and propaganda favoring the bombing spewing forth from administrative “boys”, he – as former President Bush was determined to invade Iraq regardless of whether weapons of mass destruction were found there – is bound and determined to bomb Syria for the above reasons. Following President Obama’s overtures, all the sheep disguised as hawks are lining up behind him, notably, Mr. McCain, Mrs. Clinton, and others, behind a president pulling at straws who clearly is not the master of the situation.
Even though Mr. McCain was probably right that the US should have intervened in Syria long before, notably to help the non-Islamist forces, his present support of Obama’s bombs is spurious at best. Perhaps his knee-jerk support of the bombing is a way of saying, «Well, finally, I told you so!“ He also recently stated that if Congress failed to approve the President’s proposal it would be “catastrophic” since it would further compromise US credibility. It is unsettling to glean from his statement that his major concern is US credibility and perhaps prestige as he ignores the fallout from the bombing. I now ask Mr. McCain, “If your main concern is American credibility, that has been lost long ago with Obama’s indecisive policies and all the bombing, destroying and killing will not make up for that!”
Another theory for the bombing is that the US intends to take punitive measures for Mr. Assad’s crossing Obama’s red line. However, it seems perverse to conclude that Obama did nothing to stop the killing of 100,000 people but now is prepared to jettison a few bombs into Syria when the killing of 1400 crossed his red line.
Finally, several politicians have stated that the bombing of Syria is fundamental to showing Iran what will happen if it persists in constructing nuclear weapons. From that one can draw an unsettling analogy of perhaps the more convincing reason for the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, than to save American lives during an invasion of Japan:
to show an insurgent Russia who was master of the world at the expense of thousands of defenseless Japanese.
In light of the above, Mr. Obama, full of himself, his rhetoric and perhaps megalomania, is preoccupied now with his legacy but should pull the reins of his futile attempts to make history as one of the greatest US presidents by mindlessly bombing Syria at the expense of thousands of innocent lives.
By Dr. Frank Romano
Author: Love and Terror in the Middle East & Storm Over Morocco
 “Vote on Syria Sets Up Foreign Policy Clash Between 2 Wings of G.O.P.,” By JONATHAN MARTIN, NY Times, Sept. 2, 2013.