Obama Speech on Syria

You’ve heard President Obama present his case for military action against Syria by now. I was silent because – and this is probably a character flaw I need to address – I thought everyone can read between the lines and know that the speech was hogwash.

I could be wrong in my assumption, so here are my major problems with the speech in bullet format:

  1. Obama mentions the “moderate” Syrian opposition, but I’m sure he provided more support for the armed extremists in Syria during the past two years. Can anyone tell me when was the last time Team Obama held any discussion with the “moderate” opposition?
  2. Up to the moment President Obama gave his speech, he offered no concrete effort to forge a political solution in Syria. Now, he wants missile strikes as a way to force  the development of a political solution that he never called for in the first place?
  3. It’s clear that Team Obama wants regime change in Syria, but I find it interesting that Obama never once mentioned his desire during his speech. Instead, he wants us to believe that Tomahawks for humanity is his goal.
  4. Hundreds of children were killed in Syria PRIOR to the August 21 gas attacks that the US suspects was launched by the Assad regime, so why use the “Save the children” excuse to kick Assad’s azz NOW?
  5. Besides, there are reasons to believe the rebels were behind the August 21 attack.
  6. The President mentions Syrian children being killed by Assad’s alleged gas attack, but this kind of track record (PDF) doesn’t help Obama’s credibility.
  7. It’s hard for Obama to play moralistic arbitrator on the use of WMD’s when the US did this, this and this. You may as well read this.
  8. Since when did we use social media posts as intelligence artifacts to prove a country is guilty of atrocities and is therefore qualified to receive a ship full of Tomahawk missiles? I suppose Syria will be a first…
  9. If the US had highly specific evidence that the Syrian regime was behind the gas attack, a good time to release that evidence was during Obama speech to the American people. I suspect it doesn’t exist – yet.
  10. On my link in the previous bullet, it’s now common knowledge that Saudi Arabia and Qatar are bankrolling the rebels in Syria’s civil war…
  11. Obama’s idea that Syria will keep using chemical weapons unless punishment is doled out for August 21 is not grounded in fact. Even if Assad wants to gas folks at this point, I suspect the Russians wouldn’t permit it. You can either believe Obama’s supposition or mine…
  12. Obama made no mention of the Russian report about the gas attack. If we’re counting on reading an “unbiased” report from a Swedish company with Saudi ties, then why not invite other sources…?
  13. How could it “be easier for terrorist organizations to obtain [the Syrian regime’s chemical] weapons, and to use them to attack civilians”? Isn’t Assad’s army fighting these terrorists right now? Therefore – assuming that’s the real concern, shouldn’t the US work with Assad to rid Syria of these terrorists? (Laughing) Okay, I’m dreaming, but you get how cockamamie Obama’s reasoning sounds.
  14. Somehow, the argument jumps from the terrorists getting chemical weapons to Iran developing a nuclear weapon(?) If you want to dig deeper into the Iran topic, this article by former Iranian diplomat Seyed Hossein Mousavian is a must-read. Negotiations work when both countries act in good faith. That’s all I’ll say on the topic…
  15. Obama’s call for a “targeted military strike” is rubbish. The Assad team will not have billboard signs that will tell prospective bombers “AY-YO, HERE ARE THE CHEMICAL WEAPONS! BOMB HERE!” The purpose of the bombing campaign is to enable regime change. Go ahead, tell me the US will use intelligence to figure out where Assad’s chemical weapons are, and then re-read  everything I wrote so far including the evidence shortage the US appears to be experiencing.
  16. Watch the game being played – Obama said he chose to take the case for military action to Congress since there is an absence of a direct or imminent threat to the US. But remember earlier in the speech when Obama conjured up images of terrorists getting chemical weapons to attack the US and Iran developing nukes? Game.
  17. Nope, the Obama administration has not worked for four and a half years to end wars. Not sure why the President made that point. Obama’s drone wars offer sufficient proof bust that statement. And how about that military campaign in Libya to protect those besieged civilians? BTW, haveyoucheckedoutLibya lately?
  18. Obama expressing his preference to focus “on the task of building our nation here at home: putting people back to work, educating our kids, growing our middle class” sounds like a desperate device. His administration had four and a half years to grow the middle class, among other things. You typically hear a politician mention the middle class during an election year, but to make a case for war?
  19. Saying there will be “no boots on the ground” is an insult to our intellect. Go back to my earlier point about Syria not advertising where its missiles are. Some country’s boots will have to be on the ground to properly search and identify those chemical weapons, which are likely being stored below ground. I’ll add that blowing up chemical weapons via missiles is an idiotically dangerous idea…
  20. One more thing about boots – a military strike is a military strike, whether it happens through missiles or through troops. And the geopolitical consequences remain real.
  21. Obama: “Even a limited strike will send a message to Assad that no other nation can deliver.” I don’t believe that for a second. Willingness is the key word.
  22. Obama dismisses the risk of retaliation. Hmm…while I don’t share the President’s lack of concern, let’s talk about the possible consequences of regime change, which is what the administration really wants (otherwise, why fund and train the rebels for so  long?). Overthrowing Assad means we may end up with a country that will have the most dangerous elements of Iraq and Afghanistan mixed together. That may not fall under the neat category of retaliation, but I can’t dismiss that risk either.
  23. Obama used his speech to almost completely dismiss Al-Qaeda’s presence among the Syrian rebels. Not a good idea. I’ve posted about how Al-Qaeda has taken over Syrian towns. The situation is bound to become messier…
  24. Obama wants to credit his administration’s threat of military strikes as a reason why Russia was forced to “join with the international community in pushing Assad to give up his chemical weapons.” I’m not so sure about that. Russia called Kerry’s BS with an offer.
  25. Obama’s speech alluded to the global support he’s received to address the August 21 attacks. I would love for him to name those countries that support US military action against Syria.
  26. Obama talked about the world being a better place because of the US using its power to forge and enforce international agreements. Meanwhile, the President never defined what a better place means for Syria. No mention of rebuilding the war-torn country, no talk of economic development, no envisioning of a future state whatsoever. Just bombing.
  27. Using the phrase “American Exceptionalism” takes on a different meaning when you’re not an American. Oh, but the target audience members are Americans. Just hope folks from other countries didn’t hear Obama’s speech.
  28. The last point provides a good transition point to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s piece in the NY Times about the threat of US military action in Syria. Obama’s speechwriters may need to create another barrage of cliches as a response…
  29. Likely because doing so would open a can of worms, but the President made no mention of other nations with interests in the region, nor these countries’ reasons for supporting the Assad regime. Take Russia, as an example.

Okay, what did I miss?

song currently stuck in my head: “skinny love (das kapital rerub)” – bon iver

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