**Posted by Phineas
What was I saying yesterday about the “stunning ineptitude” of Obama’s diplomacy? On top of everything else, he’s failed to convince one of our oldest allies, Great Britain, to join us in “sending a message” to Bashar al-Assad in Syria. Late yesterday, the House of Commons dealt a stunning blow to the political fortunes of Prime Minister Cameron by refusing permission to attack Syria. While British domestic politics played the major role in this, there’s no doubt that Team Smart Power failed to do the needed legwork to make things easier for Cameron. I could rant about it, but Charles Krauthammer does it just fine:
This is a complete humiliation for the Obama administration. Forget about the merits of what Obama wants to do, which I think it’s a bad idea, but let’s assume it’s a good idea. This involves the elementary conduct of international diplomacy, trying to get some allies aboard so you don’t act unilaterally.
So who’s the main ally in the world who has been with us in every trench for the last 100 years? The British. And now the British have voted against us. The other supposed ally was the French, President Hollande, and now he’s saying we got to wait for the report from the UN inspectors which will be early next week. So here is Obama and the Democrats, who railed against the Bush administration for its supposedly unilateral invasion of Iraq where we had 48 allies for a mission that involved boots on the ground — a real invasion, a real war. And here’s Obama trying to gather an ally or two for a pinprick, and he gets nothing.
This is just on the basis of thinking ahead, let’s say, a week ahead. When they leaked all this information about exactly what we’re going to hit, where we’re going to hit it, what the reasons are and the objectives are’ and we’re going to have a coalition of the willing, did nobody actually think to check with the allies? I mean, these are guys who couldn’t organize a three car funeral.
In other words, Obama, who likes to be compared to FDR, who himself lead a grand coalition in World War II, wasn’t even skillful enough to put together an alliance less than one-tenth the size of that built by the reviled George W. Bush in 2003.
I guess Parliament didn’t think keeping Obama from being mocked was reason enough to go into battle.
At PJM, RIchard Fernandez looks the isolated state Obama finds himself in and considers his options – none of them good:
Now, with Britain out of the operation, Obama faces the prospect of going into Syria almost literally alone, without the UN, NATO, Congress, or even the UK to back him up. Two courses are now open to him. He can climb down as best he can and pretend he’s changed his mind or he can go forward risking a wider war for nothing. As Andy Borowitz of The New Yorker said in a satirical piece, Obama has tried to mollify the antiwar left by promising the Syria strike “would have no objective.” It would just be a couple of days worth of random drive-by shooting without strategic content and therefore moral.
Yet a climbdown would represent a public and devastating humiliation of the man who once believe he bestrode the world. It would also represent a huge propaganda victory for Assad.
The alternative would be for Obama to double down and order an attack on his own authority despite having, as Professor Goldsmith noted, no apparent legal leg to stand on. He would risk starting a wider war that he doesn’t even want to win, and possibly illegally to boot.
Whichever way it goes, Obama’s plan for a “limited but decisive” attack on Assad is probably over. George Will advised the president to quit talking himself into trouble. “The administration now would do well to do something that the head of it has an irresistible urge not to do: Stop talking. If a fourth military intervention is coming, it will not be to decisively alter events, which we cannot do, in a nation vital to U.S. interests, which Syria is not. Rather, its purpose will be to rescue Obama from his words.”
And thus we see again the truth about everything Obama does: It’s all about The O. No rational calculation of American national interests, no attempt to show how humanitarian considerations might affect those interests. Just “doing something” for appearance’s sake because Obama drew the wrong red line.
As the great Strother Martin said in Butch Cassidy, “Morons. I’ve got morons on my team.”
(Crossposted at Public Secrets)