Caroline Glick’s article on Obama and Syria seems to sum up the situation quite nicely—although “nicely” is hardly the proper word, because it makes for very sobering reading indeed:
It is important to note that despite the moral depravity of the regime’s use of chemical weapons, none of America’s vital interests is impacted by their use within Syria. Obama’s pledge last year to view the use of chemical weapons as a tripwire that would automatically cause the US to intervene militarily in the war in Syria was made without relation to any specific US interest.
But once Obama made his pledge, other US interests became inextricably linked to US retaliation for such a strike. The interests now on the line are America’s deterrent power and strategic credibility. If Obama responds in a credible way to Syria’s use of chemical weapons, those interests will be advanced. If he does not, US deterrent power will become a laughing stock and US credibility will be destroyed.
Unfortunately, the US doesn’t have many options for responding to Assad’s use of chemical weapons. If it targets the regime in a serious way, Assad could fall, and al-Qaida would then win the war. Conversely, if the US strike is sufficient to cause strategic harm to the regime’s survivability, Iran could order the Syrians or Hezbollah or Hamas, or all of them, to attack Israel. Such an attack would raise the prospect of regional war significantly.
Please read the whole thing.
The only part with which I’d disagree—and it’s not all that huge a disagreement, really—is that I think that US deterrent power has already become a laughing stock and US credibility been destroyed. The Obama administration has certainly accentuated and underlined and solidified this impression around the world, but it actually had already begun to occur in the final years of the Bush administration.
Obama’s 2008 election was a symptom of this change rather than an initial cause. It had already become clear, as the aftermath of the Iraq war and the American presence in that country wore on, and the MSM and many politicians in both the US and Britain and western Europe (including Senator Barack Obama) relentlessly pressed the liberal/left line against that war (featuring exaggerations and outright lies in addition to valid criticism in order to get the desired narrative across), that public opinion in the Western world had turned against the efforts in Iraq, and against further intervention and engagement of a similar nature.
Obama’s present waffling, red-line braggadocio, lack of focus on US interests and goals, and abandonment of allies is just icing on a cake that has been a long time in the mixing and baking. I suppose that doesn’t mean things couldn’t change at some future point, especially after Obama is out of office (after all, look at what happened in England during the buildup to World War II—first appeasement, and then Churchill’s resolve energizing the will of the people). But it doesn’t look likely, and even if it occurred it would take a long time to rebuild the trust that has been destroyed.
That does not mean that Obama is absolved of responsibility. On the contrary; he’s been working at this goal of disappointing allies, decreasing the influence and credibility of the US, and appeasing terrorists and Iran for a long time now, long before he became president. And he’s been helped by most of the Democrats in Congress and the majority of journalists.
[ADDENDUM: Also please read Richard Fernandez's analysis of Parliament's "no" vote.]