Charles Krauthammer: Unless Obama is serious, Congress should vote no

Modified: September 6, 2013 at 7:39 am •  Published: September 6, 2013
Advertisement
;

In this year alone, Israel has four times launched airstrikes within Syria. No Syrian response. How did Israel get away with it? Israel had announced that it would not tolerate Assad acquiring or transferring to Hezbollah advanced weaponry. No grandiloquent speeches by the Israeli foreign minister. No leaked target lists. Indeed, the Israelis didn't acknowledge the strikes even after they had carried them out. Unlike the American president, they have no interest in basking in perceived toughness. They care only about effect. They care about just one audience — the party to be deterred, namely Assad and his allies.

Assad knows who did it. He didn't have to see the Israeli prime minister preening about it on world television.

And yet here is Obama, having yet done nothing but hesitate, threaten, retract and wander about the stage, claiming Wednesday in Sweden to be the conscience of the world, upholding not his own red line but the world's. And, incidentally, Congress' — a transparent attempt at offloading responsibility.

What should Congress do?

To his dovish base, Obama insists on how limited and militarily marginal the strike will be. To undecided hawks like Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham, who are prepared to support a policy that would really alter the course of the civil war, he vaguely promises the opposite — to degrade Assad's military while upgrading that of the resistance.

Problem is, Obama promised U.S. weaponry three months ago and not a rifle has arrived. This time around, what seems in the making is a mere pinprick, designed to be, one U.S. official told the Los Angeles Times, “just muscular enough not to get mocked.”

That's why Dempsey is so glum. That's why U.S. allies are so stunned. There's no strategy, no purpose here other than helping Obama escape self-inflicted humiliation.

This is deeply unserious. Unless Obama can show the country that his don't-mock-me airstrike is, in fact, part of a serious strategy for altering the trajectory of the Syrian war, Congress should vote no.

Charles Krauthammer's email address is letters@charleskrauthammer.com.

WASHINGTON POST WRITERS GROUP



Trending Now


AROUND THE WEB

  1. 1
    Oklahoma State alum sues Sports Illustrated over 'Dirty Game' series
  2. 2
    George Clooney rejects Mail apology
  3. 3
    Bomb threat at Lexington Correctional facilities under investigation
  4. 4
    LeBron James returning to Cleveland Cavaliers
  5. 5
    North Korea Complains to UN About Seth Rogen Movie
+ show more