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Russian President Vladimir Putin’s startling Sept. 11 op-ed article in The New York Times was sobering evidence that President Obama’s self-created Syrian debacle has fostered the appearance of a sea change in international affairs – a sea change to America’s detriment.
Mr. Putin, heretofore known as a ruthless KGB thug, was enabled by President Obama’s ineptness to deliver in the Times a statesmanlike plea for the rule of law in international affairs as well as a stinging rebuke of what he described as the American self-image of “exceptionalism” that has led it to act unilaterally when it felt like it.
Would anyone have cared what Mr. Putin thought about these things had President Obama not laid down his Syrian “red line” and then folded when Syria seemingly ignored it? But this was not all, by any means.
We are not saying Mr. Obama should have resorted to military action simply to boost U.S. credibility in international affairs. Yet it is hard to imagine at this point that other countries – Iran, for example – view American blandishments as having the ring of truth to them. The same holds true for Israel and other U.S. allies that have been urged to forgo taking action on their own in defense of their national interests and instead rely on the U.S.
And then there was the president’s about-face in deciding to seek Congressional approval before he would act on his “red line” promise. Actually, it is not difficult to understand why Mr. Obama decided to go to Congress for authorization regarding the use of force against Syria. While presidents, including President Obama, have taken military action against other countries without Congressional pre-approval, each of those situations was recognized as justifiable under international law.
President Reagan sent Marines into Grenada on the grounds that he had to act to protect American citizens there. President Clinton bombed Kosovo in order to stop the massacre of civilians there. And the bombing of Libya by Mr. Obama was authorized by the UN Security Council.
But an attack on Syria over its use of chemical weapons has not been explained as a preventative measure designed to stymie any further use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime. From the start, President Obama cited the need to punish Mr. Assad’s government if it resorted to chemical weapons. Prevention was not part of his initial formulation.
Indeed, White House Counsel Kathryn Ruemmler said, “The president believed that it was important to enhance the legitimacy of any action that would be taken by the executive to seek Congressional approval of that action and have it be seen, again as a matter of legitimacy both domestically and internationally, that there was a unified American response to the horrendous violation of the international norm against chemical weapons use.”
Mr. Obama himself said the U.S. should “get out of the habit” of having American presidents “stretch the boundaries of his authority as far as he can,” while members of Congress “snipe” from the sidelines.
But no matter the level of the president’s concern over possibly facing war-crime accusations, he risked, by turning to Congress without knowing beforehand whether there was domestic support for still another war, telegraphing to the world that the U.S. had no stomach to live up to its promises. And not only did he meet a wall of Congressional resistance, his dithering allowed popular revulsion to grow against any military action.
Recognizing the damage he had done to his personal – and the country’s – credibility, President Obama said last Sunday on ABC’s “This Week” that while his administration’s diplomatic approach to Syria’s chemical weapons showed Iran that diplomacy was still possible, the mullahs shouldn’t assume that military action was off the table. The Iranians, he said, understand that their nuclear pursuit is “a far larger issue for us” than Syria’s use of chemical weapons.
But the damage had already been done. Vladimir Putin is now the go-to guy for foreign leaders seeking to circumvent their international responsibilities. Why, even the president of the United States turned to him when a fast foot-from-mouth extraction was needed.
Despite the vast disparity in military and economic strength between their respective countries, the Russian president is now viewed as Mr. Obama’s equal on the international scene.
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Dear Pres. Obama, A “deal” in which one side makes all the concessions is, of course, a “surrender.”
ALLY is a terrific read because Oren has a mission: Defending&protecting the Jewish State of Israel.
George Soros: “European anti-Semitism is the result of the policies of Israel and the United States”
Instead of accepting reality, the President is trying to hold on to an illusion.
Those who suggest further capitulation to Iran are wrongly harming the interests of the West.
Few Arab Israelis found anything positive in the decision of its MKS to join any Gaza flotilla.
US Jews prefer to be like their non-Jewish liberal friends complaining about “settlements” and Bibi
New Israel Fund & its supporters must be countered; Israel’s in the midst of an unprecedented storm
PM Netanyahu this week identified ISIS and Iran as Israel’s primary threat. It is a planetary threat that carries the promise of peace.
Haym Solomon, overlooked hero of the Revolutionary War, was America’s “Funding Father.”
Latvia, July 4, 1941 they forced many Jews in the shul putting it on fire; everyone was burned alive
There’s blood on the reporters’ hands AND New Israel Fund for funding groups feeding lies to the UN
Respect & appreciation for our country is not only a civic value but an essential Jewish one as well
When words lose meaning, the world becomes an Orwellian dystopia; a veritable Tower of Babel
Can adoption agencies limit the placement of children to heterosexual couples only?
It wasn’t too long ago that Mr. Erdogan, in his determination to burnish Turkey’s credentials as an Islamist state at the cost of the secularism that had brought much economic and political success to Turkey, upended his country’s decades-long cooperative relationship with Israel.
Does the pope really believe that Father Dehon’s destructive anti-Jewish calumnies do not disqualify him from the highest honor of the Catholic Church because in his time everyone did it?
There was something else of great importance in play – something we would have liked to see him take into account before deciding to stand with the boycotters.
“Let’s get something straight so we don’t kid each other…[the Iranians] already have paved a path to a bomb’s worth of material,” said Mr. Biden. “Iran could get there now if they walked away in two to three months without a deal.”
Beyond the particulars of this tragic death, however, we should all be concerned about the possibility that a criminal prosecution in a major American city is being driven by fear of mobs in the street.
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