British tell Obama to have fun storming the castle in Syria
Barack Obama’s transformation into the funhouse-mirror leftist caricature of George Bush was completed on Thursday night, as the UK Guardian reports “the British parliament unexpectedly rejected a motion designed to pave the way to authorizing the UK’s participation in military action.”
The White House was forced to consider the unpalatable option of taking unilateral action against the regime of Bashar al-Assad after the British prime minister, David Cameron, said UK would not now take part in any military action in response to a chemical attack in the suburbs of Damascus last week.
Although Britain’s support was not a prerequisite for US action, the Obama administration was left exposed without the backing of its most loyal ally, which has taken part in every major US military offensive in recent years.
For American readers confused by this strange foreign system, let me explain: unlike America, which is run by a despot who unilaterally rewrites laws and launches military action without waiting for Congressional votes, the UK has rules about the separation of powers and legislative authority. That’s why they had a robust debate about Syria, followed by a vote that foreclosed military action. In the United States, the despot could scarcely be troubled to take 90 minutes for a “conference call” with congressional leaders. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) put together a photo comparison to illustrate the difference between the American and British systems:
So much for the “Coalition of the Willing.” Barack Obama has brought American prestige to such Carteresque lows that not even our closest ally is willing to support his mad rush to war in Syria. On Friday morning, Germany announced it would not join the war effort, either.
Developments in Parliament came as an embarrassment to both Prime Minister David Cameron and the Obama Administration, which “appears to have taken British support for granted,” says the Guardian:
Hours before the vote, the chairman of the Senate intelligence committee, Diane Feinstein, expressed confidence that Britain would join any strike.
Feinstein, a Democrat and staunch administration ally, told Time magazine: “I think the UK makes a difference. I think if the president were to decide to go there’s a very high likelihood that the United Kingdom would be with us.”
The timing of the British vote, 272 to 285 against the government, was disastrous for Obama. Less than 30 minutes after the vote, senior intelligence officials began a conference call with key members of Congress, in an attempt to keep US lawmakers on side.
Congressional leaders and the chairs and ranking members of national security committees were briefed by the most senior US intelligence officials, amid signs that some of the support for military strikes against Syria was fading.
The UK Telegraph brings us some characteristically strange comments from US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel:
Every nation has a responsibility to make their own decisions, and we respect that of any nation
The British have been very strong in condemning the Syrian regime’s use of chemical weapons, and that vote in the Parliament doesn’t change that. That is a very significant position for any nation to take publicly. We’ll continue to work with Britain and consult with Britain as we are with all our allies.
It is the goal of President Obama and our government to whatever decision is taken that it be an international collaboration and effort. Our approach is to continue to find an international coalition that will act together.
Don’t read too much into their refusal to help Obama conduct his “just muscular enough to not be mocked” bombing in Syria (as one Administration official described the President’s war plans) because it’s “very significant” that the UK denounced Syria’s use of chemical weapons. That’s not “significant,” it’s the minimal expectation for a civilized nation. Has anyone publicly endorsed the use of WMD?
But that’s how our Stumble Into War has been conducted: meaningless political pronouncements and stock phrases, delivered with all the intelligence and inspirational leadership of Gary Cole in “Office Space” telling employees to go ahead and fill out their TPS reports.
It sounds from the Telegraph’s account as though Parliament wasn’t convinced that the intelligence linking Assad’s regime to the deployment of chemical weapons was solid. Signals intelligence purporting to show Syrian army officers discussing the chemical strike was not made available, and the legal case for British intervention was not convincingly explained. “The case was not well-presented,” said Bernard Jenkin, chair of the Public Administration Select Committee, who actually favors intervention. “I got far more intelligence about why Assad was culpable from a friendly journalist than ministers for the [Joint Intelligence Committee] assessments.”
And he wasn’t just disappointed in his own nation’s intelligence services. “Obama’s policy was an almost impossible sell – we are going to drop bombs on Syria but we are not going to get involved in the conflict. It is disastrously incoherent,” Jenkin added.
Despite this embarrassing setback, Obama remains determined to blow something up in Syria, even if he has to plug an Xbox controller into the Pentagon computer system and launch the missiles himself. Dictatorial power means that you don’t care what anyone’s legislature thinks, including your own – not even when a new NBC News poll shows 80 percent of Americans want congressional approval for any action in Syria.
Fox News still hears war drums beating in the White House:
British Prime Minister David Cameron, who was pushing for intervention in Syria, indicated he would not defy the will of Parliament.
“It is clear to me that the British parliament, reflecting the views of the British people, does not want to see British military action. I get that and the government will act accordingly,” he said.
The United Nations Security Council has also refused thus far to give its consent to intervention in Syria.
Yet the White House remained undeterred, escalating an argument that any potential action on Syria, to punish the Assad regime for a chemical weapons attack last week and deter future attacks, would be in the U.S. interest.
“The U.S. will continue to consult with the U.K. Government – one of our closest allies and friends. As we’ve said, President Obama’s decision-making will be guided by what is in the best interests of the United States,” National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said.
Which, as Fox points out, is precisely the opposite of everything Barack Obama said about unilateral military strikes before he became President:
During an April 2007 speech to the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, Obama said the U.S. cannot try to “bully [the world] into submission.”
In a 2007 essay in Foreign Affairs, he specifically warned about breaking off from European allies: “In the case of Europe, we dismissed European reservations about the wisdom and necessity of the Iraq war.”
During his July 2008 campaign speech in Berlin, Obama told Europeans that “no one nation, no matter how large or powerful, can defeat such challenges alone.” He warned that “on both sides of the Atlantic, we have drifted apart, and forgotten our shared destiny” and that neither America nor Europe can “turn inward.”
Do Democrat voters require any further proof that their “leaders” didn’t mean a single word they said about foreign policy between 2002 and 2008? Just a reminder for anyone tempted to edit history: George Bush sought, and obtained, approval from Congress before the invasion of Iraq, and assembled a mighty coalition of thirty nations – more than double what Obama had before he bombed Libya, and about thirty times the size of the Syrian coalition, which currently seems to consist of a few Frenchmen yelling “Sic ‘em, tiger!”
Update: Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) thinks Obama will avoid a Congressional vote because he doesn’t want to be humiliated like David Cameron, calling the President’s determination to act without congressional approval “an unlawful act.” It’s pretty clear Senator Paul would not vote to support a Syrian intervention, based on these quotes from the Washington Examiner:
“They won’t risk a vote because they are worried that they could be defeated,” he said. “It happened in the British Parliament – the American people are not excited about a new war.”
Paul also explained that he had difficulty seeing any American interests in the Syrian conflict.
“I can’t see fighting to impose Sharia law in Syria,” Paul said. “I can’t see sending my son to fight with Islamic rebels against Christians and fight on the same side as al Qaeda.”
Under Sharia law, Paul noted, Christians would be persecuted for blasphemy, citing a woman in Pakistan who was jailed for blasphemy after she drank from a cup shared by Muslim workers.
“That is not something I want to send our boys and girls to die for,” Paul added.