IRAQ AND A HARD PLACE

Posted in Rants on September 3rd, 2013 by Ed

The impending US military response to recent events in Syria (Hint: When they spend the massive amounts of money required to move the big military hardware halfway around the world, the decision to use force has already been made) is the perfect example of everything that is wrong with the current one-sided hyperpartisan political climate in Washington. Every commentator, excepting the few hardcore isolationists and the ones who have hard-ons for starting new wars, has reached consensus on two points. One is that Obama has several options in Syria. The other is that all of the options are terrible. They are terrible politically, strategically, and practically for everyone involved.

He can rest assured, though, that whatever he does, the right will howl like cats in heat and trip over themselves to criticize him. It is a mistake to idealize the past, but there was in fact a time in American history where something approaching consensus could be reached between the parties on matters of foreign policy. This usually took the form of Democrats, forever afraid of being perceived as soft, adopting a more aggressive Republican position. We saw this most recently in 2002, with disastrous results. Currently the Republican strategy simply is to sit back, wait for Obama to choose a response, and then go ballistic. Anyone want to start a pool on the impeachment chatter?

If Obama makes no military response, Republicans will call him a pussy, accuse him of complicity in the nerve gassing of innocent civilians at the hands of a madman, and declare military intervention the only acceptable response.

If Obama attempts a diplomatic approach, Republicans will once again call him a pussy along with a bunch of overwrought analogies about Hitler and Neville Chamberlain. References to his secret Muslimness will re-emerge.

If Obama does the traditional American post-Cold War response – lob some bombs and cruise missiles from a safe distance – Republicans will explode with rage over the needless slaughter of innocents in Syria. They will note correctly that blowing some stuff up with cruise missiles is pointless in terms of ending the civil war in Syria, but they will neglect to mention the part about shitting their pants if he chose not to use force (see above).

If Obama opts for the Full Monty military response and sends in the ground forces, Republicans will stand before cameras with straight faces and decry the costs of opening a third theater of conflict in the Middle East in yet another country in which the prospects for a positive outcome are poor. Many references to the overstretched and underfunded military heroes will be made.

He literally cannot win, not only because all of his choices are bad but also because the political attacks on him will be relentless under any circumstances. That's the logical end of a Republican strategy that amounts to little more than oppose, oppose, oppose, because the Kenyan usurper cannot be allowed to succeed ever.

And before you throw out the reflexive yet embarrassing "Both Sides Do It" argument perhaps a quick review of voting on the Authorization for the Use of Military Force in Iraq is in order, not to mention certain other pieces of "War on Terror"-related legislation.