Thursday, September 05, 2013

Insipid Red-Line Disavowal

The mark of a leader is recognized when he has the humility and ability to take the blame for saying or doing something that turned out to be wrong or just plain stupid.

This is from USA Today of 06 May 2013: “On Aug. 20 of last year [2012], President Obama popped into the White House press room to take some questions -- and uttered a term that may well hang over the rest of his second term. ‘Red line.’ Asked in August about reports that Syria may be prepared to use chemical weapons against rebels, Obama said: ‘We have been very clear to the (Bashar Assad) regime, but also to other players on the ground, that a red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized. That would change my calculus. That would change my equation’.”

In Sweden this week on his way to the G-20 Summit in St. Petersburg, Russia, Obama said that the “red line” thing was not his but accrues to the world and to the Congress. However, as plainly seen by the above, he was—if not lying—totally unaware of what he has said in the past.

In a conference call from the White House to folks chosen by the White House on 25 April 2013 in an effort to explain letters Obama had sent to some senators, the White House spokesperson said: “On your red line question, it is absolutely the case that the president’s red line is the use of chemical weapons or the transfer of chemical weapons to terrorist groups.” Obviously, Obama had taken ownership of the term “red line.”

Words mean something, as Hillary Clinton discovered in her 2008 campaign when she described her desperate flight from snipers in Bosnia in 1996. It never happened. In other words, she either lied, had a total memory-lapse or suffered from delusions, perhaps of grandeur since such a flight is made for movies. A film proved what actually happened (a welcome by a little girl on the airport tarmac).

The president is aware of the fact that the term “red line” is his creature, not that of the world or of Congress. The Geneva Protocol of 1925 (made official in 1928) outlawing the use of chemical weapons referred to weapons used in warfare, i.e., one nation fighting another. This, of course, is not what’s happening in Syria, where the government is trying to put down a rebellion that has nothing to do with any other nation.

I’ve scanned through the short protocol of 1925 and am certain that the term “red line” appears nowhere in that document, another proof that the term belongs to Obama and to him alone. If he translates the document as a “red line,” that’s fine but it could just as easily be called “gas a no-no in war,” which might be my interpretation.

Usually, one lie begets another, then another, then another in an effort at cover-up. So…the president started the chain by blaming (or crediting) the world—whatever that means—and the Congress for establishing a “red line.”

Since no one knows what he means by the “world,” his cheapest shot is at the Congress, which, though hopelessly feckless, he’s trying to coerce into bailing him out of a predicament of his own making by agreeing that he should bomb the bejesus out of Syria, just as he—without consulting Congress at all—did in Libya in 2011. Instead, he went to the equally feckless UN then and gained “permission” from Russia and China, actually, who abstained on that vote and let Libya twist in the wind.

This time around, however, through its secretary-general the UN has let Obama know that an attack on Syria would be internationally illegal. The Congress would have stopped him in 2011 and saved Libya. The UN attempts to stop his war-making ways now, thus he has to go begging to Congress for his newest “little war,” not that it actually matters, since he has already made it plain that he can do what he likes, Congress notwithstanding. Arrogance to the nth power!

Not in recent memory has this nation been so at the mercy of a novice, when it needs a leader.

And so it goes.
Jim Clark

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