That clever Barack Obama with his Kenyan, colonialist, socialist tactics. I see what he's doing. He's using an old Cold War, Manchurian mind-control trick he learned in an Indonesian madrassa when he was in training to take over the world. Obama is using the ancient technique of turning someone's greatest desires against them, in this case the back-bench Republicans, who would love nothing more than to see the election of 2008 declared unconstitutional and Obama deported.
Like using reverse psychology on a child, the Svengali president is using the irrational, frothing hatred of the Tea Party Republicans against the very idea of a Barack Obama in order to obtain his genuine goals. Look at the record. This man distinguished himself in the Illinois Senate by declaring against the Bush Iraq war resolution when other Democrats were too timid. He came into office vowing to end that same Iraq war, and he has. Troops in Afghanistan are loading up the trucks for a trip back down the old Khyber Pass, getting the hell out of hell. Obama doesn't want war in Syria. He's a pacifist who pals around with people like William Ayers, the peace terrorist. This whole "getting congressional approval for a military strike" is a sham. Obama's a peacenik. He even won the Nobel Peace Prize. If he tells this Congress he wants health, they'll vote for sickness. If he says he wants war, they'll give him peace.
It's not as if Syrian president Bashar al-Assad is the first lunatic to use chemical weapons. I can still hear echoes of George W. Bush sputtering in exasperation, "but he gassed the Kurds," in reference to Saddam Hussein. That wasn't a sufficient reason to invade Iraq then, and it's not reason enough to invade Syria now. The president has assured us that no such thing would ever take place — no "boots on the ground," in the current politspeak. The problem is that the trust factor of the American people in their elected leaders has been so eroded by the Bush lies, they are hesitant to provide that trust to anyone again. Obama cites Bill Clinton's successes in Bosnia and Kosovo, where a bombing campaign ended a brutal dictator's reign and stopped a genocidal Serb forces' terror. Folks who can still remember that far back may also recall Clinton's response to the al-Qaeda bombings of the U.S. embassies in Africa. When Clinton lobbed a couple of cruise missiles into terrorist bases in Afghanistan and a suspected chemical weapons plant in the Sudan, he was in the midst of the Monica Lewinsky scandal, and his opponents claimed the strikes were just a diversion from the ongoing testimony of the sordid details from his sex life.
Bashar al-Assad was hoped to be a more enlightened leader than his dad, Hafez al-Assad, who ruled Syria by violently suppressing dissent. Assad is an opthalmologist who lived in London for a while and even once made a statement praising democracy, yet he's proven himself to be a more efficient killer than his father. The pictures coming out of Syria of victims of chemical attacks are undeniably heart-breaking and are deserving of a response. Where's the Muslim Brotherhood when you need them? Syria is surrounded by states capable of attacking their weapons cache, so why does the U.S. have to do it? In 2007, Israel made a secretive air strike against a partially constructed nuclear reactor deep within the Syrian desert. Because the operation was subject to a news blackout, tensions in the region remained unchanged, and what was the ferocious Syrian retaliation? Syria complained that Israeli jets had violated their airspace. If Israel felt threatened by Syria's chemical weapons today, would they not act again? There are atrocities committed around the world every day. Although the U.S. claims the moral authority, we no longer have the wherewithal to be the international dispenser of justice.
Obama's caution is understandable. When he ordered missile strikes against Libyan air defenses for murdering anti-Gaddafi protesters in March 2011, his objective was achieved, but it led to Benghazi. If he's looking for a precedent, all he need do is look to the Republican hero, John Wayne — I mean, Ronald Reagan. In 1986, in response to a bombing in West Berlin by a terrorist group based in Libya and supposedly directed by Gaddafi, Reagan ordered the strafing of Gaddafi's personal residence. Sixty Libyans were killed. Afterward, Gaddafi announced that he had "won a spectacular military victory over the United States." Gaddafi continued his terrorist activities for the next 25 years.
There's never been a war that the Republicans weren't willing to join, yet suddenly, usually hawkish conservatives are sounding like John Lennon. Obama stepped into his own trap with this "red-line" stuff, and it was wise to leave it up to a Congress that would refuse him ice water in the desert.
As of this writing, the president has not yet addressed the nation, but it's beginning to look like public, as well as congressional, sentiment is turning against him. And as we grow closer to hostilities, the Tea Party is accusing Obama of "wagging the dog" to detract from their pursuit of the Fox News-created Benghazi scandal and for taking up precious time that could be spent attempting to disassemble Obamacare. If they refuse to act, the fleet's already there. We're the nation that killed the whole Hussein family. What's another missile or two between murderous tyrants? The president could accept an alliance with France just to drive critics like Donald Rumsfeld nuts. But Obama doesn't want to go to war. If he wanted to end the massacre of civilians in Syria, he could fire a targeted cruise or Tomahawk or whatever missile is the latest thing and send it right up Bashar's Assad. Problem solved — or as Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson put it, "It's better to apologize than to ask permission."
Randy Haspel writes the "Born-Again Hippies" blog, where a version of this column first appeared.