President Obama addressed the nation this evening regarding striking Syria for its use of chemical weapons on August 21. On the face of it, it is a good speech. And, then, in the silence that follows, you think it over and may find yourself asking, “What did he just say?” It helps to read the text, because you can go back a paragraph or two when he contradicts himself, changes direction, and then trails off.
Personally, my reaction to Russian President Putin’s sponsorship of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s off the cuff retort to a reporter’s question, “Is there any alternative to bombing Syria?” and his response, “Well, Syria could give up its chemical weapons,” or words to this effect (I know Bryan Suits came up with that on Saturday) was “Bottom line, who cares who came up with it? If Syria surrenders its chemical weapons and if they are destroyed, then the objective has been met.” Others are not so sanguine.
I listened for hours today on how this might be the Munich Moment or how Russia will become ascendent in the Middle East and we’ve just lost our standing or that it will take six months or longer to accomplish. And, what did Russia stand to gain from this, since they had done everything to block us at the United Nations? Well, Syria is a major client of Russia and Syria agreed to allow Russia access to a Mediterranean port, and the unholy joy Putin might take from being seen to have saved Obama’s bacon or chestnuts in the fires of a possible No vote by the Congress.
Now, Obama has called off his request to Congress, he is sending John Kerry to work on the details, and we’ll wait and see. Huh. All valid points.
And, yet, tomorrow is the 12th anniversary of September 11, 2001 and the one year anniversary of Benghazi, which still remains unresolved and unanswered. I think I was more concerned about how this Administration would handle an “unbelievably small strike,” per Secretary of State John Kerry, and a vote to authorize use of force on the anniversary of 9/11 than another pause in Syria’s destruction. Oh, and it wouldn’t hurt to hear the results of the tests taken by the UN inspectors before they left Syria on August 31. How long does analysis of the use of chemical weapons take? What message does Iran hear in all these developments? Anything different than what they’ve been hearing for four and a half years? Not so much.