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Obama in Oval Office Photo: AFP
Obama in Oval Office Photo: AFP

Historians will mock Obama

Op-ed: US leader wasted time and energy on forming unneeded western coalition, as if Syria crisis was world war three

Hagai Segal
Published: 09.04.13, 14:15 / Israel Opinion

President Barack Obama won't get any medals of honor for his handling of the Syrian crisis. Even if he eventually orders a military strike on the Assad regime, historians will mock him.


They will write that in 2012 he set a red line for Syria, which was crossed in 2013, but he made every effort to shirk his obligation.

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They will write that he organized a limited attack and prayed until the very last minute that it will be rendered unnecessary. His body language projected determination, but his actions projected weakness.


There was no military or constitutional barrier which prevented Obama from striking Syria over a week ago, when the world was still under the impression of the horrible images from the chemical attack on rebel-strongholds near Damascus. US warships in the Mediterranean have at any given moment enough Tomahawk missiles to carry out such a simple mission. There is no shortage of targets either. Two or three salvos would have made it clear to all the crazies of the Middle East that the US keeps its word.


But for Obama, even this bare minimum was too much. He wasted time and energy on forming an unnecessary western coalition, as if this was world war three. Instead of calling IDF chief Benny Gantz and asking for his advice on how to bomb Syria without the scrutiny of the High Court and B'Tselem, the White House phoned everyone else in the world to seek approval for a strike. The largest superpower in the world became small-minded.


According to most reports, Obama was not furious when the parliament in London voted against an attack. In fact, he breathed a sigh of relief. The British refusal gave him the inspiration for the ploy - taking the decision on a strike in Syria to Congress.


Obama purposely complicated the situation to gain another two to three week window which he hopes will present him with an opportunity to avoid a military operation against Assad. He hopes that during this time a compromise offer will surface or that some event will distract the world from the situation in Syria. Who knows, maybe the Israeli government will suddenly decide to build seven and a half apartments in east Jerusalem? Then even the neutral Brits will vote enthusiastically in favor of a strike.



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