What a mess. Finally Obama has been hoist by his own overblown rhetoric, and caught out massively on a world-wide scale. After strutting the diplomatic stage and making that pompous media sound bite about “red lines”, Bashir the Gasser, calls his bluff. The Brits then get a bad dose of cold reality, and give Prime Minister Cameron the bum’s rush and Obama then ends up all cosy with, of all people, the French! “Our oldest allies” indeed!.
Then just as fast it all turns topsy-turvy and suddenly Obama decides that he doesn’t want to take the big decisions all on his own after all. No sir, not if that loses votes. Obama must remain popular if nothing else. Now he will let Congress take the flak instead. As damage limitation goes it’s a good one, a bit obvious perhaps, but hey it should work if,
1. It gets him out of not helping gassed children.
2. It forces Congress to make a decision – any decision – thus exposing its impotence.
3. Shows that, despite their bluster about American Exceptionalism etc, Congress will not man up and accept the role as the world’s policeman.
4. The most likely outcome is they turn their backs, and decide not to decide.
As a historian I can see we’ve been here before. A century ago the United States also faced a decision on the human rights in the country that is now divided into Syria, Turkey and Armenia. America chose to stay out then too.
When Armenians were massacred by the Ottomans during World War I President Wilson urged Congress to help establish a territory to call their own but Congress refused.
No good precedents here then.
Copyright David Macadam 2013