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Obama, the benevolent dictator: ‘I will allow Congress to vote on military action in Syria’

PHPatrick Henningsen
21st Century Wire

After conference calls with both party caucus leaders this morning, America’s Commander-and-Chief gave his declaration of war address to the nation – well, sort of…

US President Barack Obama confirmed that he has made the decision to go to war against Syria, only he’s not sure when that will be.

One thing America has come to learn about Obama is that he always requires a little wiggle room on any decision he makes, just in case he wants to change his mind, or in case things look like they might go wrong, he can always back out and deny he was ever intending to move ahead with what was actually a bad plan in the first place. Yes, this is the Obama we’ve come to know.

1-Obama-war-Syria
Always one to cover his backside from every possible angle and to make absolutely certain that nothing sticks to his pan, the President elected to leave his Syrian attack plans open-ended. He wants to remain flexible on his latest ‘definitive decision’ – to strike another sovereign nation. In doing so, however, Washington’s original Teflon Don might have inadvertently stuck himself into a corner this time. 

“We are prepared to strike whenever we choose.  Moreover, the Chairman has indicated to me that our capacity to execute this mission is not time-sensitive; it will be effective tomorrow, or next week, or one month from now.  And I’m prepared to give that order.”

One problem: in its manic rush for military intervention, the White House has just telegraphed its intentions and cannot put that genie back in the bottle. Obama is now fully exposed from a political standpoint. David Cameron made the same fatal mistake last week, and was buried because of it. The end result was a victory for democracy in the UK, but a disaster for the Tory/Liberal Democrat coalition government.

It may take a few days to sink in – after the BBQ’s and the beers over the Labor Day weekend, before Americans and the dinosaur media are able to grasp the full implications of having their President commit the country to another war. By contrast, Syria is bracing itself for impact.

Damascus, like the entire region, now remains on a hair-trigger. A Syrian security official told AFP, asking not to be named, “We are expecting an attack at any moment. We are ready to retaliate at any moment”. 

For President Obama, the language used in his ‘coming out’ war speech, was colder and more authoritarian in tone than usual, and yet, one wonders if he himself has grasped the full implications of what he’s just done.

Unlike the previous military conflicts he inherited, or various and sundry drone strikes carried out by remote control, Obama will have full ownership of this war. In Libya in 2011, he was able to hide behind the cloak of NATO, but this time it’s looking like a unilateral venture, with the French riding shotgun, which should no doubt please dedicated kite surfer and life-long Francophil, Secretary of State John Kerry.

Predictably, Obama pulled the tried and tested ‘national security’ card, as the anchor for his plea for military escalation in Syria:

“My administration stands ready to provide every member with the information they need to understand what happened in Syria and why it has such profound implications for America’s national security.” 

With language befitting of a true dictator, the President pauses to give lip-service to the democratic process after ordering his followers to ‘move forward’:

“And all of us should be accountable as we move forward, and that can only be accomplished with a vote.”  

Obama seized the opportunity to appear tough, but in true Chicago style, he over did it, with his my military line:

“Now, I have not made a final decision about various actions that might be taken to help enforce that norm,” he said. “But as I’ve already said, I have had my military and our team look at a wide range of options.”

The most disturbing part of the speech is this: where Obama crosses the line which defines the speech of a President versus that of an authoritarian dictator:

“I’ve long believed that our power is rooted not just in our military might, but in our example as a government of the people, by the people, and for the people.  And that’s why I’ve made a second decision:  I will seek authorization for the use of force from the American people’s representatives in Congress.” 

“Yet, while I believe I have the authority to carry out this military action without specific congressional authorization, I know that the country will be stronger if we take this course, and our actions will be even more effective.”

Yes, you heard that right: Obama stated that he has already declared war on his own, but in true the spirit of a benevolent dictator, he will graciously allow Congress to vote on his war, or “authorization of force”.  Yes, it’s highly political, and yes… it’s a highly dangerous precedent and could trigger a constitutional crisis, should the opposition choose to seize the moment. Such a statement from a President could easily be viewed as a bold step towards fascism.

And then there’s Obama the internationalist. He continued his long-running audition for the role of global president: “Here’s my question for every member of Congress and every member of the global community:  What message will we send if a dictator can gas hundreds of children to death in plain sight and pay no price?”

The stretch continues, as Obama inflates the importance of an alleged attack in Damascus, equating it to genocide and nuclear arms deployment, still with no real evidence that the Syrian government had used chemical weapons on its own people, other than innuendo, You Tube videos and politically sexed-up ‘intelligence’:

“Make no mistake — this has implications beyond chemical warfare.  If we won’t enforce accountability in the face of this heinous act, what does it say about our resolve to stand up to others who flout fundamental international rules?  To governments who would choose to build nuclear arms?  To terrorist who would spread biological weapons?  To armies who carry out genocide?”

Genocide, nuclear arms, flouting international rules? He could easily be referring to Israel, or even the US there. No bother. The dictator has spoken and put the Syrian government – and the Middle East, on warning.

Obama then went on to establish his unilateral position, claiming:

“I’m confident in the case our government has made without waiting for U.N. inspectors.”  

Obama has also given away his position early with regards to international diplomacy within the U.N.  framework by essentially ignoring the U.N. You can see a 21st century pattern emerging. Just like John Kerry last week, the President has coolly written off the U.N. as irrelevant in his decision for military force, much the same way George W. Bush did in 2003 when he famously dared the U.N. Security Council to authorize military force or become an “ineffective, irrelevant debating society.”

This would have worked in 2003, but today power players in Washington clearly have not fully considered the rise of Russia and China as major players in international affairs. The big difference between then and now, is that the geopolitical chessboard is much tighter after US and British neocolonial escapades in Iraq and Afghanistan. US attempts to isolate Russia and China over a U.N. vote on intervention in Syria may not go as smoothly as planned, and therein lies the danger of this President’s current exposed position. A lot can happen in 9 days before Congress returns from break. Already, Russian President Vladimir Putin has challenged Washington to present its “evidence” to the U.N. that Syria attacked rebels with chemical weapons near Damascus on August 21st. It’s almost certain that they will not.

This was perhaps the worst, most indecisive and most condescending declaration of war speech in US history. It trumps even George W. Bush in terms of the unconstitutional language and choice of words.

Thus far, the case for intervention in Syria has relied mainly on the media’s ability to dramatise the conflict for American, and European audiences. But the public are still not buying it. No matter how much chemical weapons propaganda and YouTube videos surface over the next 9 days before Congress returns for a debate and a vote, the American public do not support a new war in Syria, not just because they were duped before, but because they understand where intervention in Syria leads to: a confrontation with Iran. Americans are also realising rapidly that for two decades now, Israel’s foreign policy seems to have preceded that of America’s. Washington war planners and foreign policy hacks still have yet to prove that they are not actually doing the bidding of Israel, and Americans are finally waking up to this conflict of interest.

And then we finally get to what Al Gore might refer to as an inconvenient truth: for the last 2 years the Washington and London have dirtied their hands behind the curtain by backing an armed opposition in Syria, including some 40,000 imported Islamic fighters, comprised of some of the most violent fundamentalist terrorist brigades the world ever seen. They have been recruited from Libya, Egypt, Tunisia, Iraq, Lebanon, Chechnya, Yemen, Somalia, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. The most dominant fighting groups are openly affiliated with al Qaeda, have pledged to create an Islamic state for themselves in northern Syria. Syrian Christians are being driven out of their enclaves by these same armed gangs. US and British special forces are training and prepping these fighters off the books, in Jordan and Turkey. US allies Saudi Arabia and Qatar have been paying the salaries and the weapons for this insurgent army so far. This is who Washington has allied themselves with in order to achieve their real goal which is regime change in Syria. Even if these militant groups are thrown under the bus in a new Syria, it will take another decade to flush them out. In Iraq, they are still running amok ten years on. US Congressman Dennis Kucinch described this prospect as the US acting as “al Qaeda’s Airforce” in the skies over Syria, as it did in Libya two years ago. Kucinich is right.

The next two weeks will no doubt be an orgy of news pieces on MSNBC, CNN, ABC and CBS showing the horrors of chemical weapons. This was also case with the pre-war government propaganda effort in the run-up to the Iraq bombing campaign.

The question now remains: will America fall for it again?

Will Obama end up in the same soup as his good friend across the pond? 

The full text of Obama’s historic speech can be found here.

READ MORE SYRIA NEWS AT: 21st Century Wire Syria Files

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21wire

We are a North American and European-based, grass-roots, independent blog offering geopolitical news and media analysis, working with an array of volunteer contributors who write and help to analyse news and opinion from around the world.
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