Friday, August 30, 2013

What Obama could learn from Lincoln about Syria

By Donald Sensing


We are about to sow the wind and will only reap the whirlwind.

I listened to President Obama's early-afternoon explanation of why he intends to make was against Syria (purely on this own authority). He basically excluded any military action amounting to more more than slapping Assad's hand.

We will be making war against Assad by any definition of the concept. In the president's mind it will be in only in a very limited, restrained way for a very brief time.

What Obama does not understand is that there is no reason for Assad to think the same thing. What seems to our president to be a few missions flown and a few missiles launched, then home for dinner, will look very different to Assad when bombs start dropping on his country. It will be no little thing to him.

Try to imagine that on the evening of Dec. 7, 1941, the Swiss ambassador handed President Roosevelt a message from Japan's government saying, "We are finished bombing you now. Let the Pearl Harbor attack teach you not to hinder our invasion in the southwest Pacific or Asia."

Do you think that FDR would have said, "Well, glad to hear that, let's just carry with business as before"?

Mr. Obama may think he is waging limited, brief war against Assad, but there is no reason for Assad to think so. This war will not be over until Assad, not the president, says so. Why should Assad feel any restraint at all in responding or planning a response? Why should we think that just because we have stopped bombing that Assad will also agree the US-Syria War is over?

A war is ended only when both sides say so. In Assad's view, this war can continue for many years to come and he can strike back at America when and where he wants.

As David Letterman said last night, "This will be a kind of enjoyable switch for Obama. Now he can start a war that the next president will be stuck with."

Only it won't just be the next president. It will be you and me possibly for many years to come.

This president could teach the current one
a little about crisis management.
During the Civil War, some of Lincoln's cabinet urged armed resistance, if necessary, to Britain's ultimatum of war during the Trent Affair. Lincoln told them, "One war at a time, gentlemen," and complied with Britain's demands.

President Obama has professed admiration for Mr. Lincoln. Perhaps he could heed that advice today. One war at a time, Mr. Obama. Do not needlessly multiply your enemies.

Else you will to sow the wind and we may reap the whirlwind.

This seems apt, too: "Against Symbolic Killing."

Update: "Experts Fear U.S. Plan to Strike Syria Overlooks Risks"
In outlining its tentative plans, the Obama administration has left many questions unanswered. Diplomats familiar with Mr. Assad say there is no way to know how he would respond ... .
Like I said. Then there's this:
Iran’s and Syria’s defense ministers threatened on Friday to unleash attacks on Israel if Mr. Assad was in danger.
No worries. The president has already said Assad will certainly not be in any danger.

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