In the Arena

Obama and Syria: Stumbling Toward Damascus

The President’s uneven Syria response has damaged his office and weakened the nation. It’s time for one more pivot

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Kristoffer Tripplaar / CNP / AdMedia / Sipa USA

President Barack Obama walks along the colonnade of the White House from the residence to the Oval Office to start his day on September 10, 2013 in Washington.

On the eve of the 12th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Barack Obama made the strongest possible case for the use of force against Bashar Assad’s Syrian regime. But it wasn’t a very strong case. Indeed, it was built on a false premise: “We can stop children from being gassed to death,” he said, after he summoned grisly images of kids writhing and foaming at the mouth and then dying on hospital floors. Does he really think we can do that with a limited military strike—or the rather tenuous course of diplomacy now being pursued? We might not be able to do it even if we sent in 250,000 troops and got rid of Assad. The gas could be transferred to terrorists, most likely Hizballah, before we would find all or even most of it. And that is the essence of the policy problem Obama has been wrestling with on Syria: when you explore the possibilities for intervention, any vaguely plausible action quickly reaches a dead end.

The President knows this, which makes his words and gestures during the weeks leading up to his Syria speech all the more perplexing. He willingly jumped into a bear trap of his own creation. In the process, he has damaged his presidency and weakened the nation’s standing in the world. It has been one of the more stunning and inexplicable displays of presidential incompetence that I’ve ever witnessed. The failure cuts straight to the heart of a perpetual criticism of the Obama White House: that the President thinks he can do foreign policy all by his lonesome. This has been the most closely held American foreign-policy-making process since Nixon and Kissinger, only there’s no Kissinger. There is no éminence grise—think of someone like Brent Scowcroft—who can say to Obama with real power and credibility, Mr. President, you’re doing the wrong thing here. Let’s consider the consequences if you call the use of chemical weapons a “red line.” Or, Mr. President, how can you talk about this being “the world’s red line” if the world isn’t willing to take action? Perhaps those questions, and many others, fell through the cracks as his first-term national-security staff departed and a new team came in. But Obama has shown a desire to have national-security advisers who were “honest brokers”—people who relayed information to him—rather than global strategists. In this case, his new staff apparently raised the important questions about going to Congress for a vote: Do you really want to do this for a limited strike? What if they say no? But the President ignored them, which probably means that the staff isn’t strong enough.

(MOREIn Prime Time, Obama Struggles to Reason With Nation Over Syria)

The public presentation of his policies has been left to the likes of Secretary of State John Kerry, whose statements had to be refuted twice by the President in the Syria speech. Kerry had said there might be a need for “boots on the ground” in Syria. (Obama: No boots.) Kerry had said the military strikes would be “unbelievably small.” (Obama: We don’t do pinpricks.) Worst of all, Kerry bumbled into prematurely mentioning a not-very-convincing Russian “plan” to get rid of the Syrian chemical weapons. This had been under private discussion for months, apparently, the sort of dither that bad guys—Saddam, the Iranians, Assad—always use as a delaying tactic. Kerry, in bellicose mode, seemed to be making fun of the idea—and the Russians called him on it. Kerry’s staff tried to walk back this megagaffe, calling it a “rhetorical exercise.” As it stands, no one will be surprised if the offer is a ruse, but the Administration is now trapped into seeing it through and gambling that it will be easier to get a congressional vote if it fails.

Which gets close to the Obama Administration’s problem: there have been too many “rhetorical exercises,” too many loose pronouncements of American intent without having game-planned the consequences. This persistent problem—remember the President’s needless and dangerous assertion that his policy wasn’t the “containment” of the Iranian nuclear program—has metastasized into a flurry of malarkey about Syria. It’s been two years since he said, “Assad must step aside.” He announced the “red line” and “the world’s red line.” And now, “We can stop children from being gassed.” The Chinese believe that the strongest person in the room says the least. The President is the strongest person, militarily, in the world. He does not have to broadcast his intentions. He should convey them privately, wait for a response, then take action, or not. He should do what the Israelis did when they took out the Syrian nuclear reactor: they did it, without advance bluster, and didn’t even claim credit for it afterward. The wolf doesn’t have to cry wolf, nor should the American eagle. We must stand for restrained moral power, power that is absolutely lethal and purposeful when it is unleashed, but never unleashed wantonly, without a precise plan or purpose.

Creating a precise plan in the Middle East is utterly impossible, which is something the American people have clearly come to realize. The region is at a hinge of history: those straight-line borders, drawn by the Europeans nearly 100 years ago, seem to have passed their sell-by date. The next decades may see the formation of new countries, like Kurdistan, along ethnic and sectarian lines, and the process will undoubtedly be bloody. Some version of Syria will probably emerge—there’s always been a Syria—but perhaps not within the current borders. The West will have to stand aside as this is worked out. We have slashed our way into these places, under the neocolonial assumption that they are somehow in need of our wisdom and power, and left too much chaos and too many dead bodies in our wake to have any moral credibility left in the region except, perhaps, in Israel. And you have to wonder if, after the past few weeks, the Israelis would trust us to provide the security for the peace that Kerry is trying to negotiate with the Palestinians.

Once again, the President understands all this. The subtext of his presidency has been that it is no longer possible for the U.S. to go it alone—even if he continues to do so himself—unless we face a direct and immediate threat to our national security, and that we must build multilateral coalitions to enforce the world’s red lines. And so, the question must be asked: Why has he persisted in pursuing a limited military option in Syria? These things almost never work. Often, they make the situation worse. Ryan Crocker, the retired American diplomat with the most experience in the region, has speculated that Assad’s diabolical response to an American military strike might be to launch “another chemical attack just as a stick in our eye.” And then, our next move? Could the President let another gas attack stand?

(MOREHow to Destroy Syria’s Chemical Weapons)

The President isn’t crass or stupid enough to say it, but I would guess that he is persisting in his public threats of military action because American credibility—and, more precisely, his credibility—really is at stake. But playing the “American credibility” card is a foolish and extremely dangerous game. In my lifetime, more lives, including American lives, have been lost in the pursuit of American credibility than by any legitimate military factor. It was what led Lyndon Johnson to double down in Vietnam. It was what helped propel George W. Bush into pulling the trigger in Iraq, even after it was clear that most of the world and, quietly, the American military thought it would be a disastrous exercise. It was what led Obama deeper into Afghanistan. Make no mistake, Obama has already lost credibility in the world, given his performance of the past few weeks. But American credibility is easily resurrected, given our overwhelming strength, by prudent action the next time a crisis erupts, a clear strategic vision and a rock-steady hand on the wheel. It was resurrected by Ronald Reagan in the 1980s. The sad thing is that Obama had been rebuilding our international stature after George W. Bush’s unilateral thrashing about. He has now damaged his ability to get his way with the Chinese, the Iranians and even the Israelis.

That may never come back—and there were real opportunities to make some progress, especially with Iran, where the ascension of a nonprovocative President, Hassan Rouhani, and a reform-minded Foreign Minister in Mohammed Javad Zarif had opened the possibility of real progress in the nuclear talks and maybe even in other areas, like Afghanistan. The question now is whether Obama’s inability to make his military threat in Syria real—and the American people’s clear distaste for more military action—will empower the hard-liners in the Revolutionary Guards Corps to give no quarter in the negotiations. The Chinese, who have been covetous of the South China Sea oil fields, may not be as restrained as they have been in the past. The Japanese may feel the need to revive their military, or even go nuclear, now that the promise of American protection seems less reliable. The consequences of Obama’s amateur display ripple out across the world.

There are domestic consequences as well. This was supposed to be the month when the nation’s serious fiscal and budgetary problems were hashed out, or not, with the Republicans. There was a chance that a coalition could be built to back a compromise to solve the debt-ceiling problem and the quiet horrors caused by sequestration and to finally achieve a long-term budget compromise. But any deal would have required intense, single-minded negotiation, including political protection, or sweeteners, for those Republicans who crossed the line. Precious time has been wasted. And, after Syria, it will be difficult for any member of Congress to believe that this President will stick to his guns or provide protection.

There are those who say Obama has destroyed his presidency. It may be true, but I doubt it. All sorts of things could happen to turn the tide back in his favor. The snap polls after the Syria speech indicate that he still has the ability to sell an argument, however briefly. He has been lucky in his opponents: the Republicans will doubtless continue to take positions that most Americans find foolish or extreme. Obamacare may prove a success. He may make crisp decisions in the next overseas crisis; one would hope he’s learned something from this one. But he has done himself, and the nation, great and unnecessary harm. The road back to credibility and respect will be extremely difficult.

MORE: Across the Red Line

749 comments
modenafan
modenafan

how do you feel that your column is "free" while to read other Time columnists, you have to pay (subscribe)?

RapidRobert
RapidRobert

This article is "one of the more stunning and inexplicable displays of journalistic incompetence that I've ever read."  1.  "Worst of all", you state, Obama allowed Kerry to "bumble" into "mentioning a not-very-convincing Russian 'plan' to get rid of the Syrian chemical weapons, and that "no one will be surprised if the offer is a ruse, but the Administration is now trapped into seeing it through."  That purported Obama's mis-step in fact caught on like a western states wildfire resulting in a unanimous United Nations Security Council Resolution which will rid Syria of its chemical weapons arsenal likely without unwanted miltary action.  2.  Then you smugly advised that Obama ruined any chance to try to reach a nuclear arms agreement with the new moderate Iranian President.  Then we learn today that a U.S. President (that would be Obama, Joe) and an Iranian President actually talked with each other to agree that their government representatives should resume and continue discussions toward a resolution of the threat of Iran's production of nuclear weapons.  This after thirty-four years and five U.S. Presidents personally spoke to an Iranian President.   All I can say is I hope Obama continues having such Joe Klein-perceived failures! 

Onepatriot
Onepatriot

We'll never see true democracy in the middle east in our lifetime.  Until the people learn to solve their own tribal and religious divisions, they'll never work together to be successful.  They don't abide other religions than Islam and even then won't get along with the different factions.    Our constitution protects our freedom to choose but too many of their people don't want that.   We and other western governments do think it's possible, but in reality, we all know it's not likely.

When President Obama took office he inherited the history of blunders that were made in the past and  since those mid-easterners can't forgive anything that has happened for the last thousand years, there aren't any partners to work with that have the same goals. That said, we elected him to get us out of war and keep us out of war.  He doesn't have many options and while I'd like to see the United Nations do more, they won't be doing anything for lack of support , financial or otherwise,from Russia and others. So we're left to act on our own and if we do, will be seen as meddling in their affairs again. The Europeans should take a more active role in keeping the peace, but  that's probably not going to happen.

So with all our own problems, such as having to deal with the "just say no Republican Party", refusal to cooperate on anything, keeping our economy from recessing, trying to get healthcare made available to all, stopping Wall street from dealing our dwindling middle class another blow,and keeping our government funded, what else do you want to pile on his plate?   Any more miracles you want?

gc1956a
gc1956a

No war in the Middle East has ever been fought for democracy. Wars are waged by Islamists against secular authoritarian regimes, against Israel, or by Shiites against Sunnis and vice versa. If one adds Turkey to the equation, there are wars against Christians and Kurds.   

Turkey would be an opponent of the United States if President Obama were to state unequivocally that the Armenian nation was murdered in 1915.  Therefore it is impossible for the United States to be allied to a democracy enhancing venture. The civil war in Syria is a struggle by Islamists of whatever stripe, against pluralism.

Turkey has an eye on another Syrian province.  In a real sense, the war in Syria is a direct echo of the Armenian genocide, right down to using the dispossessed to murder other dispossessed. That mechanism of evil, is the Turkish way of doing things.  So the Armenian nation goes out to buy a newspaper, and vanishes, a mystery for sure.


citizen_Z
citizen_Z

What, Mr. Kline?  Has your president not got enough hubris for your liking? Your hyperbole is so stunning, it more than rivals your claim of Obama's incompetency and demonstrates you've not got any better clue than the average joe about  President Obama's diplomatic game with respect to Syria. That's your biggest problem, you can't stand not knowing, but you're sure going to pretend  that you do.Your scurry from one rhetorical device to another would be comical were you not so dead serious about second guessing what's happening in your world. It's as if you're a republican apologist who, having drunk too much of the conventional  Koolaide, has grown distractingly antsy in the throes of predictable consequence. Your discomfort has apparently muddled your memory as well, given how easily you forget the malfeasance and incompetency of two recent republican presidents; or is it that you just never witnessed any damage  Ronald Reagan or G.W. Bush visited upon the presidency and the country.

You claim President Obama made a grave mistake by even mentioning  a "red line"  with respect to Assad's use of chemical weapons.  My question to you, Mr. Kline,  is who should draw that line if not the leader of the greatest military power in the world?  Who should lead, this country and the rest of the developed world to that moral plateau of rational behavior?  Apparently your own moral amnesia allows you to forget  that Reagan blew his chance to do just that.  So much for using the power and prestige of his presidency to influence the global equation.  By all means you musn't be denied your fond memories of the Gipper.  Better to believe he never sold arms to Iran for his own domestic political reasons or failed to notice the use of gas by Saddam Hussein. Fine use of global diplomacy that elevated the standing of the U.S. in the eyes of the rest of the world, weren't it?

Then there's your witness to all that presidential incompetency on display by Barack Obama, and why you are perhaps not such a good judge of what the President is or is not doing with the current situation.  I would start by pointing out that G. W. Bush is my favorite for the title of all time most destructive force ever to hold the office of President.  History may prove me wrong of course, but I feel fairly competent that if there's someone worse, it'll be a Republican. Just to refresh your memory, Bush concocted and sold his big lie about Saddam Hussein's collaboration with El-Qaeda and the imminent threat of  non-existent WMD's to coax a feckless country and Congress into declaring war on Iraq.  He then swaggered into the U.N. to make the coup complete with his coalition of the willing (countries effectively bullied and bribed into compliance by his charisma and stellar foreign policy acumen). Subsequently, the Bush cabal opens a second war in Afghanistan to exterminate Osama Bin Laden. Meanwhile Bush ignored the national economy in every possible way until the national deficit ballooned into the trillions of dollars and the real estate  and stock market collapsed.  The fiscal  mess he created was left to a Democratic president to deal with. The middle east chaos was and still is perhaps  G. W. Bush's crowning achievement.

Forgive that I've taken a few liberties with the timeline and my inexactitude relative to the details, but I just wanted to jog your memory with the bigger picture.  Where was I?  Ah yes, George's little war.  The Iraqi army proper was defeated within about  a week (Big Surprise!) Victorious American troops rolled into Baghdad to symbolize the coalition's success.   At this point , the war part was over and it was time for the civilian authority to take charge. George, who's only fun had been to be commander in chief of the victorious forces thought the war part was all there was to it. Consequently, the troops were informed there were no plans to stabilize the situation.  So.  The nation and the rest of the world got to watch while George and his neo-cons improvised... badly. They were going to nation build!  Well, they'd get to that just as soon as the looters were done stripping every toilet and treasure, every bit of intact ordinance they could grab while the troops were told to stand down. By then, Iraqis were getting around to settling old scores among themselves. Hundreds died.  Presto! A Governor without a shred of experience except as a businessman, and a similarly handicapped mob of wunderkin are sent to save the day.  First item of business  for the munchkins is to build Oz in the center of Baghdad.  Soon there were all sorts of things going on, more Iraqiswere dieing, a few more soldiers as strongholds of resistance were cleaned up, sectarian tensions and rivalries are simmering.  The great Oz then has a game changing inspiration. He disenfranchises thousands of Sunni muslims with a stroke of a pen. They immediately find themselves unemployed and unemployable by the ruling powers. Many are maids and cooks  or  office workers, some are well-educated, career bureaucrats, doctors, lawyers, nurses,engineers, accountants.  All are now sent away for no other reason than they were the wrong kind of Iraqis.  Iraqis who had the unfortunate affiliation with Saddam Hussein's old government; all now labelled as loyalists and a risk.Sectarian violence rises sharply as Sunnis and Shiites  war with one another, more soldiers die as resistance hardens and El-Qaeda influence expands.  In short G.W. Bush's absolute incompetence produced  a protracted war, thousands of dead soldiers, more thousands of dead Iraqis, a squandering of trillions of dollars of national wealth, and the growing animus toward the U.S. throughout the Middle East.  Well done, George! Meanwhile, the financial crisis in the U.S. threatened the global economy. You just have no idea how you impressed the rest of the world, George!

Dare I suggest Barack Obama has: 1) extracted the U.S. from Iraq; 2) negotiated an extraction from Afghanistan; 3) expunged Osama  bin Laden ;4) severely crippled El- Qaeda; and, 5) dealt effectively with healhcare reform, economic catastrophe, jobs, and a variety of other domestic issues  in spite of the sabotage and mayhem directed at him by a bankrupt Republican party.


So give me a break, Mr. Kline.  Stop talking like Vladmir Putin.  It's unbecoming.

lprk55
lprk55

Mr Klein, I don't think  you speak for most of us.  You nitpick over comments made without seeing the broader concern - that we don't get ourselves into a third war without debate.  Are you saying we need another president who distorts the facts and shoots without reviewing all the issues, losing innocent civilians and soldiers for no good reason? Your loose rhetoric plays into the hands of those who would act impulsively so as not to appear weak in the future.   Stop playing around with our lives by pushing out the kind of politicians who are really trying to do what is right. 

Zadie2001
Zadie2001

"The road back to credibility and respect will be extremely difficult."  Hyperbole, Mr. Klein.   To take this situation in Syria, which at minimum, is complex and surely a potential quagmire, and serve it up as one of the most critical situation globally is hyperbole.  Obama should never had said "Assad must go" or "Chemical weapons crosses a red line".  But no, the office of the presidency has not been irreparably damaged and the USA's stature in the world has not been immeasurably damaged due the actions (or inactions) of Obama.  We have been on this trajectory since the 1980's, when members of Congress and our President used words like "evil" to describe other nations and leaders.

kafkahakka
kafkahakka

Yes, but if Obama did not push this issue to the top of the world's agenda, would Putin have seized upon Kerry's seemingly off-the-cuff suggestion and proposed the current solution to the crisis? This consensus between the powers may well set a welcomed precedent to a non-violent way of settling problems that affect the world. 

arvay
arvay

Obama is part of a giant con job that pretends the US is guiding the world toward democracy and peace.

Actually, our mideast policy since the end of WWII has been a neocolonial attempt to control the region -- starting with the insertion of Israel and the Shah and stretching through support for Mubarak and other regional types willing to serve us -- a failed strategy that has reached gravitational escape velocity in Obama's administration. 

Did I mention that the US provided targeting information for Saddam's gassing of thousands? Oh dear, the hypocrisy has been foaming at the mouth for decades! Oh, BTW, Israel has chemical weapons also

http://www.timesofisrael.com/israel-worried-it-may-be-forced-to-join-chemical-weapons-ban/

Oh dear! How rude of me to mention that!

Please, spare us the pictures of dead children. We ignored them in Lebanon in 2006 --

https://www.google.com/search?q=dead+children+Lebanon+2006+images&sa=X&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&ei=Utg2Us7jDu624AOQn4CYBA&ved=0CCoQsAQ&biw=1627&bih=1396&dpr=1#facrc=_&imgdii=_&imgrc=s432GKDGJjDCYM%3A%3BLNmL_m9Edye-RM%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Fsabbah.biz%252Fmt%252Fwp-content%252Fuploads%252F2006%252Fnov%252F17myq_580x435.jpg%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Fsabbah.biz%252Fmt%252Farchives%252F2006%252F11%252F08%252Fbeit-hanoun-massacre-israel-kills-sleeping-families%252F%3B580%3B389

-- why should we pay particular attention to the Syrians?

Obama is dithering, poor guy, because the various "roadmaps" are all scrambled and do not represent the landscape any more. Want to replace Assad? Oh, that's been an American/Israeli goal for decades. Hey, do that and you get al Qaeda. 

Oh dear!

Plus, our military is not out of bullets or military whizzes -- but our troops are demoralized and the public is fed up with these losing wars.

Passing the region to the influence of Russia -- now that our energy supplies are being relocated to our own shores  (bad for the environment, but pivot-enabling) -- is already proving to be a good escape route. When those S300 missiles arrive in Iran, and all the onanistic "strike" talk is thereby made silly -- we can stop with the threats, assassinations, cyber-attacks and let the sanctions die a natural death -- capitalism is a wonderful force, after all.

Obama and his successors are going to find that "containing" China will be as time-and-resource wasting as our effort to steer the middle east. Once we get a government that actually works for the interests of the people rather than the One Percenters -- we can stop that foolishness also.

alanoireland
alanoireland

...never knew you to be sooo wrong, Joe. Why the pressure to publish ? You knew a deal may well be forthcoming. For shame, you need to retract and do it asap, doubtful it will really do much good, but for those of us that use to read you? 

normad
normad

it appears that mr. klein;s primary interest is for Israel.  mercifully, president Obama's primary interest is the American people!!!

how blessed we are to have him and I am sure that all the syrian people are too. 

Clockwork9
Clockwork9

It's unusual for Mr. Klein to react in the negative without his admirable traits of patience and reflection on major events. It is  true the Dems have been weak and invisible, while once again the media and GOP eagerly jumped into the briar patch and asked "what just happened?" Despite the cries for military action from all corners, the clues for a diplomatic (read non-violent) solution have been evident for weeks. Russia, like us, does not want the so-called rebels to have access to WMDs; everyone knows who and what is really behind the insurrection.

The media and politicians continue to look foolish, reactionary and downright stupid at times in their efforts for face time. They should behave like the rest of America and quit embarrassing our country on the world stage.

Huey
Huey

No Syrians civilians have been killed by chemical weapons since President Obama spoke out against the killing of 

civilians. He succeeded by bravely threatening the use of force by the greatest military power in the history of the world. Other world leaders and members of our own government cowered in the shadow of shame scared to

speak out against these unspeakable crimes against humanity. President Obama and John Kerry have won on this issue.   

RightWingNut4
RightWingNut4

"Which gets close to the Obama Administration’s problem: there have been too many “rhetorical exercises,” too many loose pronouncements of American intent without having game-planned the consequences. "

That's the essence of Democrat's politics in general. Take Obamacare disaster, for instance
As to those who claim that "Syria situation has changed dramatically", for starters that does not change the adolescents amateurish ways of this administration. For another, Assad just set a precondition of US stopping arming "the rebels". And for those naive (at best) souls who believe that the solution is found, how do you imagine passing control of the WMD in the middle of a civil war? Ah, those nasty details that ALWAYS derail grand plans of 
super humanoid Obama!


sltahoe88
sltahoe88

Obviously, this article was written a couple days before it was put out by Time.  The Syria situation has changed dramatically in the last 48 to 72 hours. Russia and Syria have admitted to the Syrians having chemical weapons, something Assad wouldn't admit  just last weekend. Yesterday, Assad told the UN he wants to sign the Chemical Weapons Treaty and go through the verification and destruction process. 

Seems Klein wants an ego based foreign policy from President Obama. I'm glad Obama has been able to stand back from his previous statements and let the diplomatic process move forward. Still might have to use the military force suggested by the President over the last few weeks but at least President Obama is about to get his ego out of the way and allow a peaceful solution to a dangerous situation.

KnumbKnuts
KnumbKnuts

Yeah, that's exactly what is needed - Obama spouting off more empty words in an attempt to persuade people of his viewpoint. Make me laugh! What is needed is the country to decide on action when needed and take it decisively.

But what am I thinking, this is Obama after all! Walk softly and carry a feather.

smith60558
smith60558

"The road back to credibility and respect will be extremely difficult."

BACK to credibility and respect?   Umm, Joe, outside of your sorry little bubble, Barry was never there.

golinus
golinus

Totally disagree with Joe Klein and I'm surprised he is now in the camp of the wreckless cowboys, like the women analysts at CNN,  that argue that Obama should have bombed Syria just because he had set some kind of red line. According to them, Obama should have started a major war just to to show how "macho" he can be. Isn't that what Bush & Cheney did on Iraq and we ended with an unnecessary, lengthy, costly and bloody war?

mconradhamilton
mconradhamilton

"...and there were real opportunities to make some progress, especially with Iran, where the ascension of a nonprovocative President, Hassan Rouhani, and a reform-minded Foreign Minister in Mohammed Javad Zarif had opened the possibility of real progress in the nuclear talks and maybe even in other areas, like Afghanistan..."

Hard to believe this fantasy cropped up in the midst of an otherwise astute column.

dashton
dashton

Never thought I would agree with Joe Klein! I guess he is seeing the light.

Ozmondias56
Ozmondias56

"the quiet horrors caused by sequestration"

Yeah, really, really quiet horrors there Joel :D

ruskie123
ruskie123

The day President Bush left office and Barack Obama stepped in...78 million people had jobs in this Country.  After five years of pathetic Democrat economic malaise...only 64 million people are working.  I don't give a crap about how many cars are being sold...I will no longer put up with the lies Barack has told about 'jobs created'.  This Country has lost 14 million jobs since his first day.  That is a fact.  Had there been a Republican President in office the last 5 years, the media would rightly be declaring we were in the midst of a depression.  True unemployment is 14%.  Stop defending the indefensible.  Barack Obama is the worst President in our lifetime.  Fact.

gc1956a
gc1956a

@citizen_Z

The Obama administration is attached to Turkey and the two Wahhabi monarchies, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, and a strategy aimed at re-drawing borders in Syria, in an attempt to establish a new Caliphate and to reward Turkey with more of Syria's provinces.

The previous land grab was a bribe from the French to the Turks for not being allied to Nazi Germany.   Turkey always expects to be paid in dispossessed Christians and the United States has always indulged that vice.

President Assad did not approve the use of chemical weapons, the NATO intelligence released to the media ( via Germany) confirms the only directions from the regime's executive was not to use them.   

I therefore don't think al Qaeda is severely crippled in Syria, I think they are to the fore. 

arvay
arvay

Due to some weirdness of the TIME site, you'll need to highlight the second url to get to the coverage

gc1956a
gc1956a

@Huey    President Assad did not authorize the use of Sarin.  The UN suggested, or hinted, and HRW stated that the insurgents had no 140mm launchers, that's the key for the USA blame game.  The problem, is that the UN and HRW and the USA were wrong.

http://brown-moses.blogspot.co.uk/2013/02/first-images-of-grad-rockets-used-by.html

The insurgents have produced hundreds of PR films of every kind of rocket system being used against Christians, Alawites, Aleppo, Lebanon and the regime's forces.  The insurgents have many 140mm systems in use.

OneOut
OneOut

@Huey do you get dizzy trying in vain to spin like that ? 

Gas has been used in Syria twice.  The first is what prompted the CnC to draw his "Red Line". Then they were used again, either in spite of, or because of his first threat.


citizen_Z
citizen_Z

@RightWingNut4  

careful there, wingnut.  You're going to sprain your tongue.  Your hyperactive slurs are the stuff flatulence is made of.

alanoireland
alanoireland

@RightWingNut4 , morning, you just keep believing in the fairy dust and pixilated presidents and the 'right'will continue to lose seats in D.C. Big and Little.  Go ahead shut down the government, liked what happened the last time? LOve to go on but...I know you know better, dontcha

Clockwork9
Clockwork9

@RightWingNut4 Obama Care disaster!?!?  You must be one of those people who has sufficient  medical insurance, perhaps from government service or medicare?  Welcome to earth. This "disaster" has  saved my family a small fortune, just through dependent care extension to age 26 and the pre-existing conditions clauses. As several states are reporting medical insurance policies and costs have been declining rapidly. It's called a competitive market, much as you would buy a car. Whether you realize it or not the uninsured  receive free medical care, mostly through emergency room treatment, which we in turn pay for through higher medical costs But if you are fully insured, what the heck, screw everyone else.

RightWingNut4
RightWingNut4

@sltahoe88 It is not about that "Obama has been able to stand back from his previous statements". It is about that he should not have made those stupid statements in the first place


ArmedTexan
ArmedTexan

@golinus 

Read the article again and show me where he advocates war.  Klein merely points out how amazingly badly Obama handled this situation.  He played his hand poorly and then doubled-down when Assad and Putin called his bluff. Please try to keep up.

golinus
golinus

@ruskie123 Please be honest. When Bush left, the U.S.economy was in free fall (remember the financial meltdown?) and we were losing 700K jobs per month. The moves Obama initiated rescued the country and perhaps the world from a major financial disaster. Besides, Bush, led by Cheney had gotten us into a major, unnecessary, lengthy, costly and bloody Iraq war based on lies. Finally, you know well the Republicans have obstructed and sabotaged ALL legislation proposed by Democrats to create jobs. You can't stand Obama's skin color and there lies you immense hatred for the man!

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@ruskie123 Remind us again. Where was the country headed when he took office? How many jobs were we losing a month then? And which party had absolute control of all three chambers from 2001-2007 which were the years that created the crash?

OneOut
OneOut

@golinus

I don't like Joe Biden, Harry Reid, or Nancy Pelosi.


Does that make me racist ?

wristactionblog
wristactionblog

@mantisdragon91 @ruskie123 Guys, guys, stop it. If you want to place the blame for the Great Recession consider that in 2008 there were at least four reality shows on basic cable about flipping houses and our nation had long past adopted a culture in which we'd rather pay $.80 less for a plastic spatula than have jobs that pay a living wage. While the retirement generation was stealing from the young, the young were waiting for their parents to kick off so the could extract the 1970's equity from their corpses. We all did it, and as long as we continue playing a game of Duck Season / Wabbit Season among ourselves which only benefits the politicians, we will continue to suffer from it in increasing measure. 

ruskie123
ruskie123

@mantisdragon91 @ruskie123  700,000 jobs lost in one month...I forget which month that was.  That is your point.  I get it.  I'd hit Dems over the head with that number, too, if they did that.  That was one month.  And still...with that month of job losses...real unemployment was lower then than the 14% today...more people had jobs in this Country then, than today.  When Carter left office and Reagan came in...he didn't whine about what was handed him.  In less than 2 years Reagan turn around a horrid economy.  It's been 5 years after Obama swore he would turn things around. And it is incontrovertible that things are worse.  Just ask Detroit. 

emmayu
emmayu

@mantisdragon91 @ruskie123 Hey, MSM zombie:  First, the Dems controlled the Senate in 2001-02, which corresponded with a peak in unemployment.  Second, the economy was fabulous on Jan. 3, 2007, when Obama-Pelosi-and-Reid took over Congress and immediately tripled the deficit, which put high pressure on interest rates JUST at the time many adjustable-rate mortgages were going to reset.  Third, Sen. Schumer started the run on the banks in the Summer of '08, precisely to get Obama elected.  (google for "Schumer Indymac Bank" and read the mainstream media -- CNBC and Bloomberg -- to confirm what I just said).

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@emmayu @mantisdragon91 @ruskie123 The war wasn't over. The Iraqi people no longer wanted us occupying Iraq because of outrages committed by private mercenaries like Black Water. More importantly why were we in Iraq in the first place? Who did it benefit other than China and Iran?

emmayu
emmayu

@mantisdragon91 @emmayu @ruskie123 In trying to claim that the Iraq War was a complete waste, you apparently don't read your own links. Let's start with the first paragraph.

"[The initial invasion and overthrow of the Baathist regime was] three weeks of aggressive warfare executed, by and large, with stunning effect, scattering a half-million-man army in its wake. The 10th anniversary retrospective haze makes the whole affair seem almost dreamlike, a flicker of blistering success."

Got it?  The invasion was "stunning" to Saddam's regime and its overthrow as a "blistering success".  All went well with the Bush decision to invade.  Are you with us so far?  Then the author addresses a counter-factual hypothetical:  Specifically, that the Sunni insurgency that followed never happened.

"So no, I don't mean [the fabulously successful invasion and overthrow of the Baath regime]. But what of the war that followed, [the intra-Iraqi warfare and especially the Sunni insurgency].  What if that had never had to pass? 

Then the author writes, on and on, about how the U.S. bungled the initial phases of the occupation -- mostly by not realizing how offended were the Sunnis (who were only 18% of the population but had felt a divine right to rule an apartheid-like country for generations) by their sudden loss of power.

Okay, I don't have an argument with that.  Clearly we could've handled the occupation better.  As a former occupation troop myself, in South Korea, I totally agree that we didn't "get it right in Iraq" until late-2007.  And then we won the war against the insurgency -- in a fashion equally "stunning" and "blisteringly successful" as our initial invasion -- by the end of 2008.  In other words, the war was over before Obama took office.  All he had to do was what all occupiers do:  Maintain the peace.  He couldn't manage even that.


emmayu
emmayu

@mantisdragon91 @emmayu @ruskie123 Bullcrap.  If you gave them a choice:  10 years of American war and occupation vs. 10 years of Saddam, 90% of Iraqis would jump at the American war and occupation.  You have no idea just how evil a man Democrats helped into power in Baghdad.  

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@emmayu @mantisdragon91 @ruskie123 Probably not. But few if any Iraqis would choose what happened to their country in the last 10 years over having Saddam. Only an idiot would compare liberating Nazi held France to illegally invading a country to do a regime change which has led to even more bloodshed and a possible civil war.

emmayu
emmayu

@mantisdragon91 @emmayu @ruskie123 No Iraqi wants Saddam back.  The Baath Party is forever dead there.

Besides, FDR killed 200,000 Frenchmen in bombings prior to D-Day.  Was that bad, too?

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@emmayu @mantisdragon91 @ruskie123 The reasons we went to war in Iraq, how we ignored intelligence on 9/11 attacks, the giveaways to the oil and fossil fuel industry. How the country was looted for personal gain.

emmayu
emmayu

@mantisdragon91 @emmayu @ruskie123 Books -- at least ones by conservatives -- have copious end- or foot-notes linking you to the original sources.  Newspaper articles by MSM lefties do not.

Which should a sane person trust more?

emmayu
emmayu

@mantisdragon91 @emmayu @ruskie123 You're free not to believe me.  You're even free not to do any research to prove or disprove what I say.  What you're NOT free to do is make me use my limited time here provide the research sources to you.

emmayu
emmayu

@mantisdragon91 @emmayu @ruskie123 There is ample documentation on it but you have to go outside your MSM cocoon to read it.  I have heard of a book that explains it well called "The Forgotten Man".

emmayu
emmayu

@mantisdragon91 @ruskie123 The only thing that made the Panic of 1929 into a Great Depression were the big-government policies of Hoover and FDR.

mantisdragon91
mantisdragon91

@ruskie123 @mantisdragon91 One month? Care to try again. And keep in mind that the only fiscal crash similar to this one was the Great Depression and the only thing that pulled us out of them was World War 2

emmayu
emmayu

@mantisdragon91 @emmayu @thepolkagirl @ruskie123 P.S.  I've got other, better things to do than continue with your tuition-free education.  Like cleaning off one of my refrigerator shelves.  Adios, and get educated.  For your own sake.

emmayu
emmayu

@mantisdragon91 @emmayu @thepolkagirl @ruskie123 So, next year, in the Republican primaries, there will be more candidates wanting to be endorsed by those people -- hell, COMBINED -- than by Palin?

Maybe.  On some other planet.  Could happen.

emmayu
emmayu

@mantisdragon91 @emmayu @thepolkagirl @ruskie123 She's only a laughingstock to those who believe what the MSM say about her and who refuse to do any independent research of their own.  People like you.

For instance, what did the MSM tell you was the reason for Palin's all-time world-record approval rating as governor?  Or did you do any independent research on it?  I really, really doubt it.

emmayu
emmayu

@mantisdragon91 @emmayu @thepolkagirl @ruskie123 That article is misleading.

Yes, the private sector MADE the loans, but it made them BECAUSE Fannie was BUYING them.  Read <u>Reckless Endangerment</u> by the NYTimes business reporter to actually learn something about the causes of the crash.  I can even help by telling you you can stop after the first 6 chapters.  Even you should get it by then.

emmayu
emmayu

@mantisdragon91 @emmayu @thepolkagirl @ruskie123 You really don't know history, but that's what we expect from MSM zombies.

1.  Dems controlled the Senate in 2001-03.

2.  Dems controlled both the House and Senate in 2007-08.

3.  Bush had a fabulous economy when he had a Republican Congress, 2003-07.

4.  Speaking of which, so did Clinton once he stopped opposing GOP economic policies.

emmayu
emmayu

@thepolkagirl @emmayu @mantisdragon91 @ruskie123 Actually Obama took office in D.C. in 2005 and immediately became the #1 bagman for mortgage fraud bankers like Fannie Mae -- he was paid to prevent Republicans from reining in the crazy risks the big banks were taking on mortgages.

Obama didn't "inherit" anything when he became President.  He voted for EVERY SINGLE bit of it as a Senator.