Secretary of State John Kerry has presented evidence that chemical weapons were used in Syria, thus justifying our action.
All over the globe, people are saying, “Wait, haven’t we heard this before?”
When Colin Powell, on behalf of George W. Bush, assured us that Sadaam had weapons of mass destruction, most of the world said, “Well, he’s the President of the United States. He wouldn’t lie about something like this.”
So now there is a lot of skepticism among our allies, which we deserve. (Thank you, GWB — the incompetence, dishonesty, and the damage caused by your Presidency continue to haunt us.)
There are some major differences between the two situations, though:
First, we have UN inspectors with evidence that chemical weapons were used, along with actual victims.
Second, and more importantly, we have a President who does not want to go to war. Bush and Cheney were looking for an excuse to go after Sadaam for a variety of reasons (“He wanted to kill my Dad,” “Halliburton will make a ton of money”, and so on).
Obama clearly does not want to get himself into another Iraq, especially in Syria where there are no good guys. He warned Assad not to use chemical weapons in the hopes of preventing such a disaster, but that didn’t work and now he’s painted himself into a corner where he has to react. He has stated more than once that this will be a drone-style attack without any “boots on the ground,” but to what end? Will this really accomplish anything?
A few days ago, I criticized Obama for acting without congressional approval. He’s a Constitutional scholar — he used to teach Constitutional Law at the Law School level — and whaddya know? He turned around yesterday and asked Congress for approval.
This was not only the right decision legally, but also politically. Congress is now stuck in the situation where Obama can deflect whatever blame comes his way. “Hey, you guys voted the way you did, and I followed your instructions,” he can reply if things go bad either way. Smart.
But maybe Congress and the world would have a more uniform view had George W. Bush not lied about Iraq. To quote GWB, “Fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can’t get fooled again.”