Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Cruising the Web

Michael Doran of the Brookings Institute sums up Obama's newest approach to Syria. It's "Potemkin disarmament." Exactly.

In fact Syria is basically adopting the "North Korea playbook."

Guy Benson summarizes up the inherent inconsistencies of the Obama policy on Syria.
After erecting a case against Assad as one of history's greatest monsters, invoking the Holocaust, and advocating "targeted" military action to stop the killing, Obama announced the indefinitely postponement of Congressional votes -- a truly glaring disconnect. He also described Assad's August gas attack as the game changer vis-a-vis US intervention. Why didn't April's violations of his "red line" trigger the current crisis? What about the last two years of civil war, which have witnessed the slaughter of more than 100,000 Syrians? Much of Obama's pitch was humanitarian. Should Americans care about the difference between a child bombed, and a child gassed?
If Assad's actions are like the Holocaust, is it really persuasive to then endorse a policy that will leave Assad in power in Syria? Stuart Rothenberg makes the same point.
If Syria’s act was as heinous as the president and the secretary of state said it was, then Obama should have acted one way. If it wasn’t so heinous, he should have acted another way (and not have drawn a red line initially). How about picking one and staying consistent?
Oh, that's just a hobgoblin for the little minds that don't appreciate the brilliance of our President and Secretary of State.

Don't believe what John Kerry says about Syria's supposedly "moderate rebels."

Obama had a strange choice for his FDR quotation.

So why did Obama get prime time to make an address that basically just asked for a delay while Obama hopes that Putin can save him from the humiliation that Congress was about to hand him?

Now Kerry's gaffes can become administration policy.

Victor Davis Hanson wonders why chemical weapons are being portrayed as so much more of a threat than conventional weapons that kill so many more people.
I wish it were not true, but there is scant evidence that the world, led by the U.S., went to war in the past over the use of weapons of mass destruction — whether by Gamel Nasser in Yemen or by Saddam Hussein against the Kurds and the Iranians. Understandably, the current West’s reaction, including Obama’s, to possible Syrian WMD use is calibrated mostly on the dangers of intervention, not the use of WMD per se. Thus Obama is now focusing on Syria in a way he is not, at least overtly, on Iran, the far greater WMD threat, because he believes the former could be handled with two days’ worth of Tomahawks and the latter could not. That would be understandable pragmatism if it were not dressed up in the current humanitarian bluster about red lines and the “international community.”

Obama, I think, is inadvertently doing the terrible arithmetic that the last 1,000 Syrians killed by the Assad regime pose a humanitarian crisis that demands his intervention in a way that the first 99,000 did not — on the theory that WMD represent an existential threat. (In fact, from the trenches of World War I to Hiroshima, WMD have never killed more than contemporary horrific conventional weaponry has.) So far Obama has not made that case. We can only wonder whether the forgotten hundreds of thousands butchered from Rwanda to Darfur — without so much as one Tomahawk or Hellfire launched on their behalf — might have been saved had only their killers begun their devilry with sarin gas.

Obama, as senator and presidential candidate, made the serial argument that U.S. military interventions, barring an “imminent threat” to our national security, are both illegal and immoral unless they have the triad of U.S. congressional support, U.N. approval, and American public support.

In the present circumstances, to make the argument for attacking Syria he must assume that congressional authorization is an eleventh-hour afterthought and not necessarily binding, that the U.N. is mostly hocus-pocus and not worth the bother, and that overwhelming public opposition does not matter.
There are so many contradictions and hypocrisies in such thinking as to render it farcical. I’ll give one, though: In 2002–03 George Bush built public opinion for an intervention, assembled an allied coalition, succeeded with the U.S. Congress, and tried at the U.N. He made the argument that Saddam Hussein’s past use of WMD, his support for terrorism, and his genocide (read all 23 congressional writs) made a good moral and realist case for intervening in a post-9/11 landscape. In response, Barack Obama launched his political career by deriding just such logic, which he is now far less impressively adopting as his own....

To support the bombing of Syria, we must assume both that Obama has more knowledge of insurgencies than he did in relation to Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya and that suddenly he has more stomach for intervening and sorting out good from bad. Unfortunately, that seems unlikely.

No one currently in charge of U.S. foreign policy has any record of foreign-policy success. Those who might have offered wise counsel either are dead, have left the administration, or do not exercise authority — Crocker, Eikenberry, Gates, Holbrooke, Mattis, Petraeus. In contrast, the common theme among Obama, Biden, Hagel, Rice, Kerry, and Power is not brilliance. They cannot agree in public with each other; they contradict their own past statements; they have lost the public’s confidence in their veracity; and they sermonize and pontificate rather than inspire. One day we are bombing and skipping authorization from Congress; the next day, everything is on hold while Congress vacations; the next, its vote may not even matter; the next, the “shot across the bow” is a full-fledged, non-tiny attack; and most recently, everything is on hold again while the Russians — in the middle of a civil war, no less — negotiate with Assad to account for and turn over his WMD. We are certainly not in reliable hands to make one of the most complicated interventions in recent U.S. history.
Yes, but they call this smart power so it must be.

Obamacare will still leave about 31 million people uninsured. So why are we messing up the entire health care system if it isn't even taking care of the main problem it was supposed to address?

If you're concerned about income inequality, blame the weak recovery, not vice versa. Obama has the causality all wrong. What a surprise.

The GAO analyzes how little the administration's policies to create green jobs has done.
“Of the $595 million identified by Labor as having been appropriated or allocated specifically for green jobs activities since 2009, approximately $501 million went toward efforts with training and support services as their primary objective…”

Yes, I quoted that correctly: of the $595 million, over 84 percent was spent on “training and support services” rather than actual employment.
Remember that next time you hear one of the administration's spokesmen bragging about what they've done for green jobs.

Here's some surprising good news: Eliot Spitzer lost in his efforts to be New York City Comptroller.

More released Gitmo detainees have returned to terrorism.
Of the 603 former detainees tracked by US intelligence services, a total of 100 have now been confirmed as reengaging in "terrorism" or "insurgent" activities, while another 74 are suspected of reengaging. This brings the total rate of recidivism to nearly 29 percent, up from 28 percent as of the last report six months ago.
The department of defense might be facing some tough sequestration cuts and layoffs, but they still can spend $7 billion on wind energy.

Perhaps the administration could examine how fracking is helping the poor as they save money in lower utility bills. Has anything Obama has done similarly helped the poor?

Mexicans are getting sick of their teachers unions.