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Obama Syria Speech Instant Reaction

obama-seal-logo

I’ve been up since 3 am and drinking since 6 pm, so my reaction to a presidential war speech at 9 pm may not be the definitive word. Regardless, it did not move the needle, as best I can tell.

President Obama began with a point of agreement:

Over the past two years, what began as a series of peaceful protests against the repressive regime of Bashar al-Assad has turned into a brutal civil war. Over a hundred thousand people have been killed. Millions have fled the country. In that time, America has worked with allies to provide humanitarian support, to help the moderate opposition and to shape a political settlement.

But I have resisted calls for military action because we cannot resolve someone else’s civil war through force, particularly after a decade of war in Iraq and Afghanistan.

On this, we are in absolute agreement. I’ve criticized his administration for fecklessness because he’s had Susan Rice and others out there issuing pious pronouncements we obviously had no intention of doing anything to back up but, fundamentally, the president’s policy instincts have been right.

The situation profoundly changed, though, on August 21st, when Assad’s government gassed to death over a thousand people, including hundreds of children. The images from this massacre are sickening, men, women, children lying in rows, killed by poison gas, others foaming at the mouth, gasping for breath, a father clutching his dead children, imploring them to get up and walk. On that terrible night, the world saw in gruesome detail the terrible nature of chemical weapons and why the overwhelming majority of humanity has declared them off limits, a crime against humanity and a violation of the laws of war.

The problem, of course, is that a whole lot more children have been killed by conventional means than through chemical weapons. By orders of magnitude.

Because these weapons can kill on a mass scale, with no distinction between soldier and infant, the civilized world has spent a century working to ban them. And in 1997, the United States Senate overwhelmingly approved an international agreement prohibiting the use of chemical weapons, now joined by 189 government that represent 98 percent of humanity.

The enforcement mechanism for which is the UN Security Council, not POTUS.

No one disputes that chemical weapons were used in Syria.

True.

Moreover, we know the Assad regime was responsible.

No, we don’t.  But it’s a reasonable working assumption.

When dictators commit atrocities, they depend upon the world to look the other day until those horrifying pictures fade from memory. But these things happened. The facts cannot be denied.

True.

The question now is what the United States of America and the international community is prepared to do about it, because what happened to those people, to those children, is not only a violation of international law, it’s also a danger to our security.

False. There’s no conceivable logic through which Assad attacks the United States with chemical weapons.

Let me explain why. If we fail to act, the Assad regime will see no reason to stop using chemical weapons.

As the ban against these weapons erodes, other tyrants will have no reason to think twice about acquiring poison gas and using them. Over time our troops would again face the prospect of chemical warfare on the battlefield, and it could be easier for terrorist organizations to obtain these weapons and to use them to attack civilians.

If fighting spills beyond Syria’s borders, these weapons could threaten allies like Turkey, Jordan and Israel.

You’ve heard of the Slippery Slope Fallacy? Because, this is an instance of it.

And a failure to stand against the use of chemical weapons would weaken prohibitions against other weapons of mass destruction and embolden Assad’s ally, Iran, which must decide whether to ignore international law by building a nuclear weapon or to take a more peaceful path.

That’s just silly. Iran is going to obtain nuclear weapons, regardless. Indeed, attacking Assad would, if anything, further incentivize the ayatollahs to hurry up in achieving the security that comes with nuclear capability.

This is what’s at stake. And that is why, after careful deliberation, I determined that it is in the national security interests of the United States to respond to the Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons through a targeted military strike. The purpose of this strike would be to deter Assad from using chemical weapons, to degrade his regime’s ability to use them and to make clear to the world that we will not tolerate their use. That’s my judgment as commander in chief.

Okay. . . .

But I’m also the president of the world’s oldest constitutional democracy. So even though I possessed the authority to order military strikes, I believed it was right, in the absence of a direct or imminent threat to our security, to take this debate to Congress. I believe our democracy is stronger when the president acts with the support of Congress, and I believe that America acts more effectively abroad when we stand together.

But Congress is likely to vote you down.

Now, I know that after the terrible toll of Iraq and Afghanistan, the idea of any military action, no matter how limited, is not going to be popular. After all, I’ve spent four and a half years working to end wars, not to start them.

Other than the wars you’ve escalated and started, yes, sir.

Our troops are out of Iraq, our troops are coming home from Afghanistan, and I know Americans want all of us in Washington, especially me, to concentrate on the task of building our nation here at home, putting people back to work, educating our kids, growing our middle class.

That’s right. Good night, sir.

It’s no wonder, then, that you’re asking hard questions. So let me answer some of the most important questions that I’ve heard from members of Congress and that I’ve read in letters that you’ve sent to me.

Oh, sorry, thought you were done. Carry on, Mr. President.

First, many of you have asked, won’t this put us on a slippery slope to another war? One man wrote to me that we are still recovering from our involvement in Iraq. A veteran put it more bluntly: This nation is sick and tired of war.

My answer is simple. I will not put American boots on the ground in Syria. I will not pursue an open-ended action like Iraq or Afghanistan. I will not pursue a prolonged air campaign like Libya or Kosovo. This would be a targeted strike to achieve a clear objective, deterring the use of chemical weapons and degrading Assad’s capabilities.

That’s comforting, even as it avoids answering the question.

Others have asked whether it’s worth acting if we don’t take out Assad. Now, some members of Congress have said there’s no point in simply doing a pinprick strike in Syria.

Let me make something clear: The United States military doesn’t do pinpricks. Even a limited strike will send a message to Assad that no other nation can deliver.

I don’t think we should remove another dictator with force. We learned from Iraq that doing so makes us responsible for all that comes next. But a targeted strike can makes Assad — or any other dictator — think twice before using chemical weapons.

Sir, forgive me, but that doesn’t make any sense.

Other questions involve the dangers of retaliation.

Umm, but about the previous question?

We don’t dismiss any threats, but the Assad regime does not have the ability to seriously threaten our military. Any other — any other retaliation they might seek is in line with threats that we face every day. Neither Assad nor his allies have any interest in escalation that would lead to his demise, and our ally, Israel, can defend itself with overwhelming force, as well as the unshakable support of the United States of America.

Well, that’s a relief. Good night, sir. Glad we sorted that out.

Many of you have asked a broader question: Why should we get involved at all in a place that’s so complicated and where, as one person wrote to me, those who come after Assad may be enemies of human rights?

Sorry, sir, I didn’t realize there were more questions. But that’s certainly a good one. Don’t mind me.

It’s true that some of Assad’s opponents are extremists. But Al Qaida will only draw strength in a more chaotic Syria if people there see the world doing nothing to prevent innocent civilians from being gassed to death.

That’s a good point. Because Al Qaeda hasn’t shown any propensity towards criminality up to now. We wouldn’t want to give them any ideas.

The majority of the Syrian people, and the Syrian opposition we work with, just want to live in peace, with dignity and freedom. And the day after any military action, we would redouble our efforts to achieve a political solution that strengthens those who reject the forces of tyranny and extremism.

So, wait a minute, we’re going to bring peace and freedom to Syria’s people? Because that’s going to be rather challenging, if you don’t mind my saying so.

Finally, many of you have asked, why not leave this to other countries or seek solutions short of force? As several people wrote to me, we should not be the world’s policemen.

I agree.

Outstanding. Thank goodness for your correspondents, sir. And thank you for reading our letters. Good night, sir.

And I have a deeply held preference for peaceful solutions. Over the last two years, my administration has tried diplomacy and sanctions, warnings and negotiations, but chemical weapons were still used by the Assad regime.

Oh. So, no more sanctions and warnings, then?

However, over the last few days, we’ve seen some encouraging signs, in part because of the credible threat of U.S. military action, as well as constructive talks that I had with President Putin. The Russian government has indicated a willingness to join with the international community in pushing Assad to give up his chemical weapons. The Assad regime has now admitting that it has these weapons and even said they’d join the Chemical Weapons Convention, which prohibits their use.

And no chemical weapons use since then? Outstanding. Well played, sir. That reset with the Russians has really paid off! And I had my doubts about that. I won’t deny that now, sir, that you’ve had your moment of triumph.

It’s too early to tell whether this offer will succeed, and any agreement must verify that the Assad regime keeps its commitments, but this initiative has the potential to remove the threat of chemical weapons without the use of force, particularly because Russia is one of Assad’s strongest allies.

I have therefore asked the leaders of Congress to postpone a vote to authorize the use of force while we pursue this diplomatic path.

That sounds like a plan to me. Good night, sir.

I’m sending Secretary of State John Kerry to meet his Russian counterpart on Thursday, and I will continue my own discussions with President Putin.

That will certainly teach them. Jolly good.

I’ve spoken to the leaders of two of our closest allies — France and the United Kingdom — and we will work together in consultation with Russia and China to put forward a resolution at the U.N. Security Council requiring Assad to give up his chemical weapons and to ultimately destroy them under international control.

I’m somehow reminded of Monty Python but am somewhat confused by the role of the French. But never mind. At least there will be no war now.

We’ll also give U.N. inspectors the opportunity to report their findings about what happened on August 21st, and we will continue to rally support from allies from Europe to the Americas, from Asia to the Middle East, who agree on the need for action.

Ah, now I see where the French come in.

Meanwhile, I’ve ordered our military to maintain their current posture to keep the pressure on Assad and to be in a position to respond if diplomacy fails.

So long as Congress declares war, right, sir? Because, after all, we’re the world’s oldest constitutional democracy.

And tonight I give thanks, again, to our military and their families for their incredible strength and sacrifices.

So say we all. And no need to add to that list, right?

My fellow Americans, for nearly seven decades, the United States has been the anchor of global security. This has meant doing more than forging international agreements; it has meant enforcing them.

Unless there’s a duly constituted international body charged by the treaty in question, yes.

And so to my friends on the right, I ask you to reconcile your commitment to America’s military might with the failure to act when a cause is so plainly just.

So, you’re asking an ideology committed to the national interest to go to war—a war which you’ve just tabled in this very speech—in support of their opposite ideology?

To my friends on the left, I ask you to reconcile your belief in freedom and dignity for all people with those images of children writhing in pain and going still on a cold hospital floor, for sometimes resolutions and statements of condemnation are simply not enough.

But you’re also asking them to commit to actions—surely, sir, more than a pinprick, no doubt about it—that leaves the man who has killed 100,000 plus in power to continue killing more children, so long as he doesn’t use one particular type of weapon to do so?

Indeed, I’d ask every member of Congress and those of you watching at home tonight to view those videos of the attack, and then ask, what kind of world will we live in if the United States of America sees a dictator brazenly violate international law with poison gas and we choose to look the other way?

So, this is war by YouTube? What of the other 99,000 dead? Are they okay?

Franklin Roosevelt once said, “Our national determination to keep free of foreign wars and foreign entanglements cannot prevent us from feeling deep concern when ideas and principles that we have cherished are challenged.”

That’s true! Except that we did precisely that for several years until we were directly attacked on December 7, 1941.

Our ideals and principles, as well as our national security, are at stake in Syria, along with our leadership of a world where we seek to ensure that the worst weapons will never be used.

Forgive me for saying so, sir, but that’s complete and utter horseshit. None of those things are remotely true.

America is not the world’s policeman. Terrible things happen across the globe, and it is beyond our means to right every wrong, but when with modest effort and risk we can stop children from being gassed to death and thereby make our own children safer over the long run, I believe we should act.

But it’s okay to use the death of these children to propagandize a war? Our children are in no way endangered by what has happened in Syria and you have offered no rationale at all for why they would be. Nor, indeed, have you offered a plan to protect even the children of Syria.

That’s what makes America different. That’s what makes us exceptional. With humility, but with resolve, let us never lose sight of that essential truth.

Adding to the list of logical fallacies in this short speech, we have the non sequitur. What is it that makes America different and exceptional? What essential truth must we never lose sight of?

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About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He earned a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.

Comments

  1. Steve V says:

    Up since 3am?! Ouch.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  2. TPF says:

    No idea why Obama did not postpone giving this speech. Pointless.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 5

  3. Kolohe says:

    . Over time our troops would again face the prospect of chemical warfare on the battlefield,

    wait. ‘again’? If our troops are currently *not* facing the prospect of chemical warfare, why has MOPP gear been standard issue for a CENTCOM deployer for about a quarter century now?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  4. Jack says:

    The best rebuttal I have ever read to an 0bama speech. Unfortunately James, nearly every rebuttal you wrote could be reused on any number of 0bama speeches and still hit the mark. There’s a man-child in the White house throwing a temper tantrum and the entire world knows it.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 36

  5. michael reynolds says:

    James:

    Pretty good for being drunk and stupid from lack of sleep.

    I however am well-rested and only slightly drunk:

    Is it not the case that both Hezbollah and Al Qaeda are at war in a country in possession of chemical weapons? Is there not a non-negligible chance that one or both might get control of some of those weapons? If so, then is there not a chance that said weapons would be used against Israel or US interests?

    If it’s possible that Hezbollah or Al Qaeda could obtain said weapons, is it not the case that such a risk is heightened when the weapons are deployed as opposed to being held in secure facilities behind the lines?

    Wouldn’t a Sarin attack on Israel unleash one almighty sh!t storm? And wouldn’t that be rather a problem for us, security-wise? What about an attack inside Turkey or Jordan?

    So, sorry, but yes, Sarin in Syria is a threat to our security. Cuban Missile Crisis level? No. But a threat.

    Also, the UN is not duly constituted to deal with Syria on CBW because Syria never signed the treaty. Should they sign the treaty then, yeah, arguably it’s on them. But right now it’s on whoever has the ability to dis-incentivize Syria from using chemical weapons. And who’s that? That would be us, and perhaps Israel, maybe Turkey, but nobody wants to go down that path. So, it’s us.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 21 Thumb down 14

  6. michael reynolds says:

    @Jack:

    Yes, well all negroes are “man-children,” aren’t they, Jack? Why else would y’all call ’em boys? Don’t they all need the supervision of white folk?

    When you’re an idiot (and you are) you probably shouldn’t be denigrating the abilities of your betters. Yes: your betters.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 35 Thumb down 12

  7. edmondo says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Yes, and we all know that anyone who disagrees with Obama is a racist

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 16 Thumb down 28

  8. Mikey says:

    obama-seal-logo

    I’ve been up since 3 am and drinking since 6 pm, so my reaction to a presidential war speech at 9 am may not be the definitive word.

    On the contrary–I can think of no better condition to be in when watching a presidential war speech than exhausted and drunk. Might as well get there early, because we’re all going to end up there anyway.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  9. michael reynolds says:

    @edmondo:

    No, Edmondo. Joyner disagrees with Obama, and he is not a racist. Mataconis disagrees with Obama, and he is not a racist. John Boehner disagrees with Obama, and he is not a racist.

    Jack, however, is a racist.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 32 Thumb down 6

  10. Steve V says:

    So James’s inner wingnut comes out when he drinks I guess. Is there some tape we can replay from 2002 where James snidely dismissed Bush’s pronouncements with a bunch of snarky “good night sirs” while Bush was pushing for military action in the Middle East?

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 19 Thumb down 10

  11. edmondo says:

    @michael reynolds:

    OK, now I understand what those glasses are- racist finders. Good luck, it appears the more Obama pumps this unnecessary war, the more racist we all become.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 6 Thumb down 15

  12. Franklin says:

    @Jack: Curiously, your post sounds quite a bit more like a temper tantrum than anything we saw in the speech.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 28 Thumb down 1

  13. michael reynolds says:

    @edmondo:
    It’s not the glasses. It’s the verbal IQ. It’s also that I’m a word professional. So stuff that seems really clever and subtle to you is really pretty basic and easy-to-decipher for me. That’s why I get paid a thousand dollars (sometimes more) every time I write 250 words. Because even though you use words, you’re not a writer, and on top of that, you’re not smart.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 6

  14. Pharoah Narim says:

    Meh…. “O the children….”; “They’re coming for you and our allies next….” Marketing 101.

    I’m going to beat this dead horse all the way to the glue factory: Technology has overcome the threats posed by chemical weapons 100 years ago. They’ve replaced communism as the new boogie man in the current generation to garner public support for foolish military adventures. The only reason anyone would use them is to make a political statement. Anyone using them for military objectives is committing suicide. Syria, Israel, whoever country….. knows this. Don’t let these people play you for a dunce. I never heard anyone in the White House or on TV get outraged and search for evidence when reports of rebel uses of Chemical weapons came out. They don’t care about them….the bottom line is that Assad is a roadblock to something so he has to go. They’ll pull out any boogie man they think will get the most public support from that point.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  15. edmondo says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Just another racist cracker (according to you). Special glasses working again.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 13

  16. michael reynolds says:

    @edmondo:

    Interesting choice to out yourself that way. I honor your honesty.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 4

  17. edmondo says:

    @michael reynolds:

    LOL – whatever you say Special Glasses Man.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 9

  18. Pharoah Narim says:

    Comments stuck in moderation

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  19. Robert C says:

    Michael Reynolds,

    You are a warmonger.

    Syria with chemical weapons IS NOT a threat to US national security. It hasn’t been for the last 20-30 years, and it is not now. You sound like Condeleeza Rice and her mushroom cloud speech.

    Israel…we don’t even have a treaty with Israel.

    If Assad wanted to attack Turkey or Jordan, wouldn’t he have done it?

    Hezbollah and Al Queda obtaining weapons…what a staw man….maybe we need to cavity search every person arriving from the greater ME incae they have a canister of VX gas up their ares.

    Bomb Assad to weaken him so the civil war can go on indefinitely? Are you morally bankrupt?

    RC

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 9

  20. michael reynolds says:

    @Robert C:

    You are a warmonger.

    Actually, I opposed striking Syria.

    Syria with chemical weapons IS NOT a threat to US national security. It hasn’t been for the last 20-30 years, and it is not now. You sound like Condeleeza Rice and her mushroom cloud speech.

    That’s not an argument, it’s a non sequitur.

    Israel…we don’t even have a treaty with Israel.

    Don’t be ridiculous. Every US president since Truman has re-asserted our willingness to throw down for Israel.

    If Assad wanted to attack Turkey or Jordan, wouldn’t he have done it?

    By that logic why would he have waited til last month to use Sarin?

    Hezbollah and Al Queda obtaining weapons…what a staw man….maybe we need to cavity search every person arriving from the greater ME incae they have a canister of VX gas up their ares.

    Another non sequitur. Are you arguing that Al Qaeda cannot possibly get hold of Sarin? Or that if they could they wouldn’t use it?

    Bomb Assad to weaken him so the civil war can go on indefinitely? Are you morally bankrupt?

    Again, refer to my first point above. Gosh, that was fun.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 5

  21. Console says:

    It would be much easier for terrorist groups to manufacture their own nerve gas than to hope to attain it after years of civil war against a superior foe… And even then the cost-destruction ratio is garbage.

    I prefer not to base my foreign policy around people thinking like Cobra Commander.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  22. anjin-san says:

    @ edmundo

    Yes, and we all know that anyone who disagrees with Obama is a racist

    Well, not all. A lot of them are simply not very bright.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 19 Thumb down 3

  23. anjin-san says:

    Syria with chemical weapons IS NOT a threat to US national security.

    I don’t think anyone can really deny it is a threat to regional stability in the middle east. Last time I checked in, keeping that region from boiling over is fairly important to our strategic and economic interests.

    So is Syria somehow going to inflict a military defeat on us? No. Could events there spin out of control and do serious harm to our interests? Yes.

    I oppose US military involvement there, but I am not pretending that the situation in Syria could not escalate in ways that might be very unpleasant.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 3

  24. anjin-san says:

    @ Mikey

    Might as well get there early, because we’re all going to end up there anyway.

    Well, the last time I had a drink was in the 80’s. Life without hangovers is a good thing.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  25. Jeff Sexton says:

    @michael reynolds: Here’s the beauty of Hezbollah and Al Qaeda: One is Shiite, the other is Sunni. They hate *each other* FAR more than they hate us. So even if they get the weapons (and as James pointed out, there is considerable thought that it was the *rebels* that used them already), they are more likely to use them on *each other* than us.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  26. Tyrell says:

    Total debacle. Worst mistake is to make a bunch of threats and then back away. Something that would be done in some bar fight.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 17

  27. Rick Almeida says:

    @Tyrell:

    Making a bunch of threats and walking away, while temporarily embarrassing, is probably better than having the pointless drunken fight.

    James, you really ought to drunken live blog more often. Thoroughly enjoyed it.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 0

  28. Eric Florack says:

    would it be racist to point out Obama may be on about the wrong target? It seems the UN…. and leftists always trust the UN, right?…. the UN has evidence the Syrian Rebels have been using chem weapons for some months, now.

    http://dcclothesline.com/2013/09/10/the-un-has-had-evidence-that-syrian-rebels-have-been-using-chemical-weapons-since-may/

    hmmm… would we have been attacking the wrong target, per chance?

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 5 Thumb down 17

  29. SenyoDave says:

    @Jack: Jack, when someone calls Obama an idiot, moron, jerkoff, asshole, and other assorted names I assume he doesn’t like him. And from those names I would have no way of knowing why he doesn’t like him. He might disagree with his policies, might think he has bad character, might have a problem with all Democrats, might even have a problem with the color of his skin. But when he calls an adult black man a man-child, we know at least one of the reasons why he dislikes his Obama. Because he’s a racist.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 22 Thumb down 3

  30. Pharoah Narim says:

    Meh…. “O the children….”; “They’re coming for you and our allies next….” Marketing 101.

    I’m going to beat this dead horse all the way to the glue factory: Technology has overcome the threats posed by chemical weapons 100 years ago. They’ve replaced communism as the new boogie man in the current generation to garner public support for foolish military adventures. The only reason anyone would use them is to make a political statement. Anyone using them for military objectives is committing suicide. Syria, Israel, whoever country….. knows this. Don’t let these people play you for a dunce. I never heard anyone in the White House or on TV get outraged and search for evidence when reports of rebel uses of Chemical weapons came out. They don’t care about them….the bottom line is that Assad is a roadblock to something so he has to go. They’ll pull out any boogie man they think will get the most public support from that point.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  31. Rick Almeida says:

    @Eric Florack:

    You and I both know very well it wouldn’t be racist at all.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  32. michael reynolds says:

    @Jeff Sexton:

    More likely to use them on each other? And so there’s no likelihood of them using them on us? Or on Israel? Will they use ALL of them on each other? Once they’re done will the remaining munition simply disappear?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2

  33. michael reynolds says:

    This notion that it was the rebels who used the weapons is absolute bullsh!t. It’s a deliberate lie put out by Assad.

    1) The attack was large. Not a few shells, but a prepared attack using a large number of shells.

    2) The target was not some random village somewhere but a vital position the rebels were desperately trying to cling to and from which the regime had been trying to dislodge them.

    3) Zero evidence has been produced to support this lie. Whereas we have intercepts of preparations and after-action reports.

    4) Finally, even the Russians have abandoned this nonsense.

    5) IN accepting the deal Assad tacitly acknowledges his guilt.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 3

  34. wr says:

    @Tyrell: “Total debacle. Worst mistake is to make a bunch of threats and then back away.”

    So if you have a goal, and you make threats to achieve that goal, and the threats work… you should still carry out the threats even though you’ve gotten what you wanted?

    A keen mind for strategy indeed.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 0

  35. Jack says:

    @michael reynolds: Michael, 0bama is a man-child because he is an adult male who still posesses psychological traits of a child. Unlike you, I don’t look at skin color. I base my judgement on the content of 0bama’s character, of which there is none. He’s a whiney little bitch and you know it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 15

  36. Jack says:

    @Franklin: Obviously you don’t read very well. Most of my post was a compliment to the OP. Try again.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 4

  37. anjin-san says:

    @ Jack, edmundo, Florack

    Well, not all. A lot of them are simply not very bright.

    Thanks for stepping up to validate my position so quickly.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

  38. Jack says:

    @SenyoDave: So we are adding to the list of things that are racist when referring to 0bama? We already have Hussein, clean & well-spoken (we can think Biden for those), “Food stamp President”, Communist or Socialist, skinny, community organizer, ultra-leftist, break (Thanks Ed Schultz), 0bama (Thanks Chris Mathews). Now because I use man-child, that means I’m racist.

    Seems to me, only people who accuse others of being racist are racist.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 5

  39. Jack says:

    @anjin-san: We all know you have cornered the market of bright as long as when you say bright you mean bullshit.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 4

  40. anjin-san says:

    @ Eric Florack

    leftists always trust the UN, right?…. the UN has evidence the Syrian Rebels have been using chem weapons for some months, now.

    Well, apparently you believe them. You are citing them. Or do you not believe them and simply make it a practice to cite anyone who says something that might harm Obama, regardless of how many times you have ridiculed them in the past?

    It’s worth noting that the article you like to is based on an unsupported assertion.

    Del Ponte, a former Swiss attorney-general who also served as prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, gave no details as to when or where sarin may have been used.

    So, someone who works the UN, an organization you have made it very clear you think is a bad joke makes a claim and offers no supporting evidence. And you accept it as gospel. Because you can use it against Obama.

    Why am I not surprised?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 1

  41. Ben Wolf says:

    Is it not the case that both Hezbollah and Al Qaeda are at war in a country in possession of chemical weapons? Is there not a non-negligible chance that one or both might get control of some of those weapons? If so, then is there not a chance that said weapons would be used against Israel or US interests?

    This is what Suskind christened “The One Percent Doctrine”, after a meeting in which Cheney stated: If there’s a 1% chance that Pakistani scientists are helping al-Qaeda build or develop a nuclear weapon, we have to treat it as a certainty in terms of our response. It’s not about our analysis … It’s about our response.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  42. anjin-san says:

    @ Jack

    That’s your comeback? LOL. Have a nice day skippy.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  43. Jack says:

    @anjin-san: Sure thing Sparky.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 3

  44. Mikey says:

    @anjin-san: I still drink, but moderation keeps the hangovers away. Unfortunately, I didn’t discover it until much later than the ’80s…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  45. Rafer Janders says:

    @Jack:

    Seems to me, only people who accuse others of being racist are racist.

    So by your standard Martin Luther King was the REAL racist?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  46. Dave says:

    @Jack: Ya know, you might get a little more respect if, instead of just name calling, you made an actual case for your point of view. “Whiny little bitch” just gets you contempt.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  47. michael reynolds says:

    @Ben Wolf:

    No it’s not the 1% doctrine, it’s a response to James dismissing any possibility of threat. If you say ‘there’s zero chance’ and I say ‘no there’s some chance’ that’s not an adoption of the idea that all threat is intolerable. I don’t think the threat is intolerable. But it is a threat.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  48. Ben Wolf says:

    If it is in our interests to prevent al-Qaeda from using chemical weapons (of which there are credible allegations these weapons are already in their possession), then we should be bombing the rebels, not the Syrian regime which is their bitter enemy.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  49. SenyorDave says:

    @Jack: I would say the food-stamp president was intended to be racist, and is. Skinny ? Obama is kind of skinny, and the community organizer was mean in a disparaging way (Community seems like a dirty word to some people).

    But I will say it again: to call an adult black male a man-child is a racist term. Period.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1

  50. Pharoah Narim says:

    ADMIN, Please remove my comment from moderation…thanks!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  51. michael reynolds says:

    @Ben Wolf:
    This is exactly why I opposed intervening. My preferred albeit amoral position is ‘let ’em fight.’

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  52. al-Ameda says:

    @Jack:

    Seems to me, only people who accuse others of being racist are racist.

    Welcome to current conservative Republican thinking, that is: (1) the true victims of racism today are White people, and (2) you’re a racist if bring up the subject of racism.

    When did conservatives abandon normalcy and become angry whining self-proclaimed victims of modern American society?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1

  53. al-Ameda says:

    @Tyrell:

    Total debacle. Worst mistake is to make a bunch of threats and then back away. Something that would be done in some bar fight.

    Exactly, Obama should have unilaterally bombed Syrian chemical weapons facilities and informed Congress of the when he deigned it necessary.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  54. john personna says:

    The big lie of the week seems to be that anyone who backs commensurate response to the murder of civilian populations (by gas or other means), is a “warmonger.”

    I don’t know how you can sleep at night after making that claim.

    It is a fantasy position, that “no war” is all truth and light, and laughing, playing, children.

    In this case, no. It is a statement that children are dying over there, but you just don’t give a shit.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  55. john personna says:

    @michael reynolds:

    As we’ve discussed “degrading” Assad’s capabilities is in line with that Machiavellian goal.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  56. john personna says:

    @al-Ameda:

    Possibly, but it presumes that there are such “facilities” with a big red X on them, and that they aren’t in the basement of some hospital.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  57. wr says:

    @Jack: “Seems to me, only people who accuse others of being racist are racist.”

    If you really want to be convincing, you should spell it “raaaaaacist.” That proves that you are above all considerations of skin color. Claiming that those who point out your obvious racist dog whistles are themselves racist is a good start, but nothing compared to all those extra vowels.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  58. al-Ameda says:

    @john personna:

    Possibly, but it presumes that there are such “facilities” with a big red X on them, and that they aren’t in the basement of some hospital.

    You’re right, of course. I just like to point out that the conservatives who are now gloating about a perceived political defeat for Obama, are the same people who would have been appalled if Obama had bypassed Congress and taken unilateral action to order an airstrike against Syrian facilities. Darrell Issa would have expanded his Benghazi Hearings to include such an action.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  59. Jack says:

    @al-Ameda:When did conservatives abandon normalcy and become angry whining self-proclaimed victims of modern American society? When the term racist became so watered down that simply disagreeing with our white-black president became racist.

    Racist used to have a specific meaning related to the belief that one race was inferior or superior to another. I don’t feel superior to 0bama because of his skin color. Nor do I dislike 0bama because of his color. I dislike 0bama because he is a libtard.

    The term Racist has no meaning anymore.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 5

  60. Jack the other one says:

    @Michael
    Only someone like you could take what Jack said and twist it into race. You are the biggest racist here.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 4

  61. Steve V says:

    @Jack: You have no idea what psychological traits Obama has. You know what traits have been projected on to him by Sean Hannity. The media (left, right and nonpartisan) spends way too much time trying to psychoanalyze politicians and almost everything they spew out is wrong. The better course is to just decide if you agree with what a politician proposes to do and give up trying to imagine what his or her “character” is.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 1

  62. anjin-san says:

    @ Jack

    I dislike 0bama because he is a libtard.

    Ah, and we thought it was because he is a whiny little bitch of a man-child. You know, like you told us just a short while ago.

    I guess maintaining a consistent argument across an entire thread is just too much of a strain on the brain, eh Jack?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 2

  63. grumpy realist says:

    @Jack: I don’t think you’ve make your argument that much better. “Libtard”, “feminazi.” Those words, so beloved by unfortunately too many commentators on the right.

    Why should I listen to anyone who thinks that cogent argument consists of insulting me?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  64. Rob in CT says:

    Whether or not he’s a bigot, it’s pretty obvious that Jack is a dittohead. The “manchild” insult reeks of Limbaugh (not sure if Rushbo has actually used it. It’s more the style, you know?).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  65. Rob in CT says:

    Regarding the speech:

    I think it’s pretty clear that the calculation here is that Russia & Assad will only go along with some sort of inspection/lockdown of the chemical weapons in Syria if Assad is staring down a possible US attack. That’s the bit about the credible threat of force. Russia is demanding we drop our threat of force, whilst trying to make sure whatever they do is only a minor nuisance to Assad. So Obama has to keep up the threat of force somehow, in order to get the Russians and Assad to play ball.

    I’ve no idea whether it will work. I wouldn’t have gone down this road in the first place, starting with the red line comment. But Obama did, and what he’s doing now makes sense to me. I don’t like it, because it involves bluffing that we’re willing to go to war… and there is some chance that if push comes to shove we will go to war or at least do war-like things like fire missles and drop bombs (credibility, yadda yadda).

    My hope is that we can manage to get the Russians and Assad to commit to Chem weapons monitoring via the UN in exchange for a promise that we will stay out of Syria (including our plan to arm the rebels, which I would happily sacrifice since I hate that plan anyway). We’ll see how it plays out.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  66. Rob in CT says:

    @Rob in CT:

    LOL.

    I googled “Obama a manchild” and the first hit is apparently (I can’t view it now) a video of Limbaugh calling him that.

    There are also T-shirts, a World Nut Daily piece, an American Thinker piece, and some blogs I’ve never heard of.

    It’s like a who’s who of the worst bits of Wingnuttistan.

    Ah, Jack. What would you say if you weren’t spoonfed your thoughts each day?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

  67. Jack says:

    @anjin-san: So a whiney litle bitch can’t also be a libtard? They are synonamous as far as I’m concerned.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 7

  68. wr says:

    @Jack: “When the term racist became so watered down that simply disagreeing with our white-black president became racist.”

    Here’s another hint: When you start decribing Obama as “white-black” or “half black” or “part black” or “octaroon” you out yourself as a racist. I realize this is a difficult concept for you, since you seem to think it’s perfectly valid to judge a person by the percentage of his ancestry that is of a particular race, but non-Klan members don’t actually do that.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  69. Moderate Mom says:

    @michael reynolds: Good thing you’re only a little drunk. Otherwise, you would be really obnoxious.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 3

  70. Blue Galangal says:

    @anjin-san: Interestingly enough, my mom’s cousin, who’s a very conservative, Christian college student who’s posted a whole lot of right wing memes about Obama to his public Facebook page posted this morning and said, basically, Wow, this is the first time I’ve ever listened to an Obama speech and agreed with most of it.

    I’m not really sure what that data point proves but it was interesting to see after several years of unceasing anti-Obama vitriol coming from his neck of the woods.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  71. anjin-san says:

    @ Blue Galangal

    One of the more interesting aspects of the Syrian “crisis” has been watching millions of Americans of all political persuasions saying “enough of this crap” (endless military action) and actually having their voices heard, and heeded, in DC.

    It’s encouraging.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  72. Robert C says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Michael

    That Assad did this is not proven.

    Your first two points do not preclude rebels/Al Nusra from doing this, nor do they preclude a false flag bay third party.

    Although zero evidence has been reported to support the false flag claim, zero evidence has been reported to confirm that it was Assad. Note that Clapper refused to sign the Aug 30 intelligence assessment of the gasping. Why? Perhaps Clapper realized the Aug 30 intelligence report was a political document not a true intelligence estimate.

    Perhaps the Russions realize they cannot compete with the US MSM, which is essentially a mouthpiece for the government and the MIcomplex.

    Finally, Assad accepting the deal in no way confirms his guilt. In fact it a rational act. For the record Saddam Hussein denied having WMD and the UN never found any WMD. Yet, the US govt said they were there. We all know how that ended.

    RC

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2

  73. Rob in CT says:

    @Robert C:

    That Assad, or people under his command, did this is highly likely, given the the area that was hit.

    I’m all for skepticism of claims made by US intel, given the BS that was used as evidence of Saddam’s imaginery WMD capability. However, the attack was on a neighborhood that Assad’s forces have been trying to capture, but have been thwarted. It was large enough in scale that I doubt the rebels could have pulled it off.

    Given that, I’m of the opinion it was likely an Assad regime attack. It’s possible but unlikely that a rebel group did it in order to get the US to strike and help them out, because it involves killing a lot of people who are either on their side or at least not on Assad’s side. Killing lots of those folks would be tremendously risky for a rebel group, even if they had no moral qualms.

    I don’t know what 3rd party you imagine would have done it as a false flag.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  74. wr says:

    Well, if we’ve learned anything today, it’s that those long tirades that Keith Olbermann used to deliver are actually pretty hard to pull off, and that even as talented a writer as JJ shouldn’t attempt one on little sleep and several hours of drinking…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  75. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    Chris Stevens, Sean Smith, Glen Doherty, and Tyrone Woods were not available for comment about the advisability of getting involved in another civil war in a Muslim nation.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 6

  76. Pharoah Narim says:

    @Rob in CT: Odd that there’s no documentation of rebel fighting forces killed in the attack don’t you think? Did the Assad regime then waltz into the contested area victoriously after the deployment of their trump card? If not, they took a whole lot of risk for nothing. Assad and crew aren’t stupid, and anyone not living under a rock for the past 20 years could predict US response to the use of chemicals. Assad is winning… there is no reason for him to risk instigating 3rd party involvement. The rebels in the other hand have everything to gain.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  77. R.Dave says:

    OP wrote: The problem, of course, is that a whole lot more children have been killed by conventional means than through chemical weapons. By orders of magnitude.

    OP wrote: But you’re also asking them to commit to actions—surely, sir, more than a pinprick, no doubt about it—that leaves the man who has killed 100,000 plus in power to continue killing more children, so long as he doesn’t use one particular type of weapon to do so?

    I’m curious, James — do you reject the proposition that there’s a moral difference between killing people with chemical weapons and killing them with conventional weapons (all else being equal)?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  78. mantis says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    Chris Stevens, Sean Smith, Glen Doherty, and Tyrone Woods were not available for comment about the advisability of getting involved in another civil war in a Muslim nation.

    Maybe, but the thousands and thousands Americans, Iraqi civilians, and our allies who died in a foolish war you vehemently supported would like you to kindly go f*ck yourself.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 2

  79. Eric Florack says:

    @Rick Almeida: I’ll bet it gets by Reynolds, though.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2

  80. angelfoot says:

    @Jack:

    “Seems to me, only people who accuse others of being racist are racist.”

    That’s lovely. “I know you are but what am I?” Who’s the man-child throwing a temper tantrum, again?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  81. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @mantis: Maybe, but the thousands and thousands Americans, Iraqi civilians, and our allies who died in a foolish war you vehemently supported would like you to kindly go f*ck yourself.

    On 9/11, I bring up an event that happened just last 9/11 AND has a direct bearing on the current debate. You choose to bring up something that — as I’m sure you’ve argued many, many times — had NOTHING to do with 9/11.

    On top of everything else, cockroach, you suck as a troll.

    So sure, let’s give Obama a free pass to do whatever he wants with Syria. After all, didn’t that work out just stunningly with Libya?

    Oh, yeah, we’re not supposed to talk about how Obama totally screwed the pooch on that one, are we?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 3

  82. anjin-san says:

    @ Jenos Idanian #13

    Try and say something a little less stupid. Please.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  83. anjin-san says:

    @ Florack

    I’ll bet it gets by Reynolds, though.

    I have to give you credit for a certain amount of chutzpah – still being willing to tangle with someone who has so utterly humiliated you in a public forum. Though I am not dismissing the possibility that bithead and humiliation have such a long running relationship that you are comfortable with it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  84. Robert C says:

    Michael and Rob in CT….for what it is worth:

    http://www.wnd.com/2013/09/u-s-military-confirms-rebels-had-sarin/#j3LFpSudsmWFoFO3.03

    Robert C

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  85. Rob in CT says:

    WND? Dude. Your source puts out conspiracy theory nonsense routinely. They’re front-paging a claim that Al-Qaida set the California wildfires.

    Your source is worth less than nothing. In fact, it tends to strengthen my belief that it was Assad’s forces that used the gas.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  86. rudderpedals says:

    @Robert C: WND is always suspect. The piece was tl;dr and so I skimmed looking for a link to the source. Not surprisingly I didn’t find one. Did you?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  87. Eric Florack says:

    @SenyoDave: Bull squat.
    so, when Hitchens got called a petulant man child….https://www.google.com/url?q=http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ariel-gonzalez/christopher-hitchens-a-na_b_635406.html&sa=U&ei=EeMxUvaLHIXK9gS2qYDYDw&ved=0CAoQFjABOAo&usg=AFQjCNHriIBSINsfuZ72PZ3UVJ4jNRu0Kw. that was racist, too? or does this limitation only involve blacks? give the racism bit a rest, huh? I mean its clear to about anyone with an IQ of a doorknob or above that your claim of racism is supposed to end all argument…. or at least avoid any real discussion. the reason you’d want such discussions to end is you have no real argument for your position.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

  88. Eric Florack says:

    @anjin-san: you keep on saying that, an jin. maybe if you keep saying that nonsense and click your heels together three times each time you say it, it’ll come true,

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

  89. Eric Florack says:

    @anjin-san: you keep on saying that, an jin. maybe if you keep saying that nonsense and click your heels together three times each time you say it, it’ll come true,

    and are you really going to argue with the conclusion of the UN?
    I brought the subject up because it forces a choice from you, between the UN and Obama. You chose to defend the latter, given the choice.
    Interesting. predictable, but interesting.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 2

  90. Eric Florack says:

    @anjin-san. My irony meter just melted.
    worth it. best laugh I’ve had today.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  91. anjin-san says:

    @ Florack

    maybe if you keep saying that nonsense and click your heels together three times each time you say it, it’ll come true,

    This is coming from the guy who flat out said “Obama can’t win” in both 2008 & 2012. Who kept patting himself on the back and saying “looks like I called it” in the weeks running up to the elections. Who kept referring to “insider information most people don’t have access to” (AKA GOP press releases).

    I think your irony meter needs a firmware update. But, like I said above, you and humiliation are old acquaintances. Hope the two of you enjoy your day :)

    BTW, how did the “Democrat civil war, worse than Chicago” you boldly predicted work out?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  92. wr says:

    @anjin-san:” @ Jenos Idanian #13: Try and say something a little less stupid.”

    While you’re at it, would you mind asking the sun to stop shining? It’s hot here in the desert…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  93. dazedandconfused says:

    @rudderpedals:

    I wonder if Obama has figured out that the Tea Party can be turned into an asset sometimes. He released an expanded target list during the “debate”. Let a few weapons go to the rebels…and next thing you know, the RW media machine is putting out a lot of anti-rebel propaganda, which counters the pro-rebel propaganda which has dominated in US media for a long time.

    He’s been under pressure to intervene on the side of those rebels, and at one time he even said he wanted the rebels to win, but there are a lot of indications he has since changed his mind on that.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  94. rudderpedals says:

    @dazedandconfused: I think he knows. The tea parties were and remain useful tools. First in 2010 for the plutocrats, but since then their loose cannon emulation is helping to break up the GOP from the inside.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  95. A Squirrel says:

    James,

    You should write drunk and sleep-deprived more often. This might be the most succinct and penetrating (and fun-to-read!) analysis of this (albeit incredibly dumb) speech I’ve read.

    How would any action Obama has proposed fit within the Powell Doctrine? I’m no fan of Mr. Powell, but the US could stand to adopt a bit of that way of thinking.

    Of course, our “incredibly small” bombing campaign will “do something”. I’m sure.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0