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President Lawnchair's Best Play Yet

damn_registrars (1103043) writes | 1 year,15 days

Government 3

President Barack "Lawnchair" Obama delivered in his speech this weekend likely his best play in government yet. He is facing a decision between a number of options where none are a winning play; attack Syria and anger people (not to mention killing them), don't attack and you let people die which will also anger people.President Barack "Lawnchair" Obama delivered in his speech this weekend likely his best play in government yet. He is facing a decision between a number of options where none are a winning play; attack Syria and anger people (not to mention killing them), don't attack and you let people die which will also anger people.

But here, he can place the blame for the outcome on congress. With nearly everyone in congress who has said anything to the media opposing action, he can follow their vote (which will likely be against action) and then say "congress said so" when the world is mad at us for not doing anything.

Well played, sir. Well played.

For the record, I think Assad is scum who shouldn't be in power. That said, I don't think we should be attacking the regime, either as that only opens up a different can of worms. The conflict in Syria doesn't really reflect American interests at this point and as terrible as it is I don't see a good reason for us to commit resources to someone else's war. I really can't imagine a scenario where attacking Syria - even if we send just a small number of cruise missiles to kill Assad and his top brass - would work out in our favor.

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I'm getting halfway with you (1)

smitty_one_each (243267) | 1 year,15 days | (#44731727)

I fully agree that the Syria situation is a crap sandwich. I've been in sincere prayer for the President, because, irrespective of your opinion of the gentleman, it's a hard call.
Seeking Congressional approval (*cough*doing his job*cough*) makes a lot of sense.
What would also make a lot of sense is clearly articulating what national dog we have in this fight; what our objective is; and what are our exit criteria. We've only been lectured, and rightfully so, these years that George W. Bush was the Cowboy of the Century for galavanting off and flinging U.S. blood and treasure into Middle Eastern sands. This is a primo opportunity for the guy who was billed as some sort of philosopher/king to step up and flex a little. Show what Bush should have done, if only he could restrain his inner cowboy.
A survey of harsher media blowback is here [typepad.com] .

Re:I'm getting halfway with you (1)

damn_registrars (1103043) | 1 year,15 days | (#44732857)

I fully agree that the Syria situation is a crap sandwich. I've been in sincere prayer for the President, because, irrespective of your opinion of the gentleman, it's a hard call.

This seems to be another of those times where we find that we have more in common than we sometimes recognize in discussion :)

Seeking Congressional approval (*cough*doing his job*cough*) makes a lot of sense.

I would support congress passing a law that forbids the white house from unilaterally investing soldiers or more than $Y worth of military hardware in a conflict without congressional approval. And frankly, I think if congress managed to write and pass such a bill, any president who didn't sign it would make themselves look like an idiot.

What would also make a lot of sense is clearly articulating what national dog we have in this fight; what our objective is; and what are our exit criteria

I fully endorse that kind of suggestion. As much as my heart aches for the problems in Syria, I do have a very hard time figuring out what the cost is to the US. The best explanation I can find is the whole "regional destabilization" argument that we keep hearing when people talk about dividing up Iraq or various other scenarios in that area - where it seems the underlying message comes down to "Saudi Arabia good, Iran bad". And indeed even if we managed to kill Assad with any of {cruise missile, drone, sniper, area-51-derived-fantasy-weapon} while somehow magically inflicting zero collateral damage, I'm not sure what the long-term benefit would be. If we topple the regime are we not liable to stick around for the installation of the next government? And if we knocked him out of the game what assurance is there that one of his top followers wouldn't rise to power and bring back the same shitstorm?

This is a primo opportunity for the guy who was billed as some sort of philosopher/king to step up and flex a little.

I see the main value of this move from President Lawnchair as being that if congress shoots it down, he can turn around and say "I was going to do something, but congress said no, so don't blame me". Now that said, I'm curious to see what kinds of options congress will consider. Would they be voting for carte blanche (I sure hope not)? Could they say something like "you get 12 cruise missiles and then you leave" or would that be too specific? I suspect they would get more support from the public if they could pass something up saying "you can do X, but not Y where Y includes sending in troops and X does not".

In other words I'm not real sure what options are available to congress in this. Hopefully it isn't an all-or-nothing vote. As I recall congress has the authority to declare war, but hasn't done so since the second world war (I do not expect that they would declare war, and I hope Obama doesn't seek them to do so). I'm not sure that congress has previously outlined specific goals and allowable methods for military action; I suspect some people might view that as an extreme case of congressional micro-management.

Re:I'm getting halfway with you (1)

smitty_one_each (243267) | 1 year,15 days | (#44734511)

This is really one of the areas where the 18th century notion of a "campaign season" is quite overcome by technological events.
The War Powers Resolution of 1973 [wikipedia.org] attempts to model the situation. I submit that a thorough review of the last 40 years is called for, because any POTUS is incentivized to drive up Military Industrial Complex revenue by pickling off a few rounds from time to time.

I see the main value of this move. . .

It's brinksmanship. Congress is going to be pressured from the right and the anti-war left to deny authorization. This emboldens the Bad Actors. Either there is an atrocity (not unlikely) and Obama blames Congress and golfs, or, something Really Bad goes down, e.g. an attack on Israel, and all of the conservative "doves" get all hawkish, suddenly.
You want to know what's really jacked up about all this? No one is
(a) questioning whether Team America: World Police is a great idea (I submit that it's going down with the Bismarckian welfare state), and
(b) where is our consistent foreign policy strategy in all this?
I'm biased, and think that the Navy/Marine Corps team is pretty much all you need, as long as you're limiting the kinetic reach of your ideas.

Hopefully it isn't an all-or-nothing vote.

Restating the above, the more binary Congress tries to get, the stupider we all will look. Our foreign policy is a knocked-up prom queen. We're standing about, decrying variations on the theme of abortion vs. a more traditional approach to sin management, and no one's asking whether cruising the world like a conscience-free penis is a healthy notion.
If there is any ointment on the fly, it's that we're even having such a debate. In that sense, it's kind of like the waterboarding; I may not have agreed fully with the outcome, but, well, that was the will of the people, it made sense, and W, for all his other failings, had to listen.

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