Obama Blinked

Faced with looming defeat in Congress and threatened by the possibility that truth about the gas disaster might emerge, President Obama chose the better part of valor and backed away from personal disaster.

The interventionist party is enraged.  His wife is evidently pleased  and Fox News seems unhappy that World War III has not begun.

The speech was so boringly predictable that as someone here suggested I fell asleep immediately after listening and woke up around midnight for the purpose of finding my actual bed as opposed to my "couch potato" bed in front of the idiot box.

Russia saved our collective ass.  We ought to be grateful for that.  Saying that is not easy for me.  I have a lot of celtic blood and am quick to anger and slow to forget.  Nevertheless, they saved our asses this time.

Kerry is going to meet with Lavrov in Geneva to work out the details.  Kerry will try his smarmy best to have a deal that is impossible for the Syrians or anyone else to execute.  That would make it easier for the interventionists to claim that the Syrians are in non-compliance so that they can start this all over again.   That is what the interventionists did before Iraq.  It worked then and so they will try it again.

I trust that Lavrov will be on guard against this inevitable behavior on the part of the Winter Soldier.

We will see.  pl


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51 Responses to Obama Blinked

  1. Alba Etie says:

    Col Lang ,
    I am still hoping that the Realist such JSC Chairman Dempsey & Secretary of Defense Hagel will carry the day against the Interventionist . And yes we all are indebted to Leader Putin . Regarding the Interventionist I am not schooled enough in using the ‘internet tubes ” to send video but if any SST correspondent can pull up the Jon Stewart bit ‘ Uncle Jonny’s Syria Stew ” – it is both edifying and entertaining .
    It hardly seems like twelve years ago today the UBL attacked These United States.

  2. turcopolier says:

    I posted it a while back. pl

  3. r whitman says:

    A lot depends on BHO’s instructions to Kerry prior to Geneva. If his instructions are “don’t come back without a deal” then we are OK. If there are no instructions or they are typical wishy-washy BHO the interventionists might prevail.

  4. Matthew says:

    Col: And, now, send in the clowns: http://dish.andrewsullivan.com/2013/09/10/the-president-makes-the-case/
    I doubt if Anastas Mikoyan ever gave Smiling Joe such an encomium. Look, I voted for Obama twice because the alternative was dreadful, but his recent judgment has been dangerous and naive.
    BTW, I sent Sullivan an email yesterday pointing out that we all don’t “know” that Assad used chemical weapons. I also asked why he supposedly had more facts than Rep. Alan Grayson–who despite being very pro-Israel–has been to a classified briefing and finds the President’s case unconvincing.
    Predictably, I got no response. In the past Mr. Sullivan has responded when I have challenged his facts.

  5. steve g says:

    It appears Oba(o)mber cobbled together
    this speech with the MoTown Four Tops
    song playing in the back of his head.
    “Its the same old song, with a different
    meaning… He added nothing. Insead of
    clarifying events he muddled them pur-
    posefully no doubt. Once again, so much
    for the sloganeering “Hope and Change”

  6. robt willmann says:

    Here is a transcript of president Obama’s speech on Syria of last night, 10 September 2013.

  7. NF says:

    I’m glad you mentioned Andrew Sullivan’s fawning post. To use a British term, he is a wanker. I had to quit reading his drivel long ago for my own sanity.Unfortunately, unlike Col. Lang, Sullivan is not brave nor honest enough to allow comments on his site. He prefers to cherry pick e-mails which he then selectively edits and publishes…hmmm…perhaps there in a future career for him on Obama’s national security team.

  8. JohnH says:

    After ten years of a concerted campaign by beltway elites to establish via Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya that public opinion doesn’t matter when America goes to war, suddenly the beltway is forced to acknowledge that the public’s opinion does matter. Hurray!
    However, something tells me that the only lesson learned so far is that the interventionists must communicate better. And they learned that BHO is not a great communicator, occasional oratory excepted.

  9. Rd. says:

    regardless of how we got to this point, would you say a peaceful closure to Syrian crises, we are now back to multilaterarism? and that should be a good thing, except for iziz and their buddies the saud wahabi terrorist.
    Incidentally, once the Syrian sign the CW convention, the world should bring iziz to sign the CW convention as well.. it may be somewhat arbitrary (in lieu of NW) but as the first step, a good one.

  10. Anon1 says:

    It’s not the first time the Russians saved our asses. The Red Army saved many American lives in WWII by doing the heavy lifting against the Nazis.

  11. Matthew says:

    Putin 1, Obama 0.
    See http://www.timesofisrael.com/putin-shipping-assad-more-weapons-to-crush-rebels/
    Get rid of the weapons you can’t use and get lots of new weapons you can.

  12. The beaver says:

    We have to watch out for the two amazones: Susan Rice and Samantha Powers

  13. turcopolier says:

    I do not allow everyone to comment here. If you are simply argumentative or personally insulting I will ban you. There are currently 12 people in the penalty box. I un-ban them from time to time to learn if they are reformed. pl

  14. confusedponderer says:

    “That would make it easier for the interventionists to claim that the Syrians are in non-compliance so that they can start this all over again.”
    Of course they will try, and if it doesn’t work this time they’ll try again next time.

  15. NF says:

    I understand that commenting here is a privilege, not a right, and fully respect your right as proprietor to decide whom is welcome and whom is not.
    However, I fear my comment above may have been misconstrued. My ire was directed at Mr. Sullivan, and his habit of policing the boundaries of debate by simply not allowing comments on his site. My criticism was not directed towards you nor towards fellow commenter Matthew.
    If, on the other hand, you are saying that I should refrain from expressing my contempt even for the likes of Andrew Sullivan by using colorful expressions such as the one I employed above, I beg your pardon and will refrain from doing so in the future.
    Thank you for your blog and your advocacy on behalf of a non-messianic United States.

  16. turcopolier says:

    I meant nothing of the kind. I was simply stating the way I operate so that I not be mistaken for someone more kindly than I am. pl

  17. confusedponderer says:

    Yes, of course.
    They don’t see that bombing and regime changing Syria is foolhardy. The remain convinced that that is a brilliant idea and a great plan. To them this is about Obama’s weakness, and indeed, their still imperfect propaganda. They’ll work on that, just like they’ll be working on the next, better false flag.
    It sent of all my alarms when I heard US talking heads say over and over: “Sarin gas was used, and that is why Assad must be punished!”
    Causality matters.
    If it is about the use of CW, then punishment makes only sense if it is diected at the perpetrator.
    As I said before: The US is not going bomb the rebels when it turns out they staged the chemical incident, killed a bunch of civilians to be ‘martyrs for the cause’, and staged and the videos.
    This was probably from the onset conceived as a pretext to enable a US intervention in the war to bring forth regime change. The architects of this are not going to be punished.
    Bringing down Assad is to the enthusiasts about rolling back Iran. That justifies everything, whatever the cost.
    That it is also about rolling out Al Qaeda doesn’t bother in the slightest – after all the Syrian opposition is ‘largely secular’, and as Badar told the Russians – he can switch on and off extremists at will.
    Idiots. Idiots. Idiots.
    Indeed, Putin did the US a favour. I don’t expect that by and large the US will appreciate that.
    Will the US reciprocate and, say, do somthing against Chechen Islamist terrorists currently enjoying US support? Hardly.

  18. kao_hsien_chih says:

    In 1938, Benes’ brilliant diplomatic move (which was, let’s face it, probably fraudulent anyways) didn’t exactly save Czechoslovakia…

  19. Alba Etie says:

    Excellent commentary ..

  20. Alba Etie says:

    Col Lang
    You are tough but fair ..

  21. elkern says:

    Maybe OT, maybe not:
    Guradian, linked from HuffPo:
    NSA shares raw intelligence including Americans’ data with Israel:
    I’m shocked, shocked.

  22. DC says:

    I’m not sure which narrative interpretation of the President’s behavior is more correct: i.e., that he has negligently stumbled and bumbled his way into the current day’s events; or if he intentionally planted seeds to encourage the desired (or a favorable) outcome. The external optics certainly suggest the former narrative. However, when you look at the back story, one might infer otherwise: Obama has interventionist enemies of the same stripe both foreign and domestic; what better way to bait their action than to create a “red line.” Similarly, Kerry seemingly gaffed the other day; but subsequently the news says that the prospect of a negotiated solution with the Russians had been going on for some time, and Kerry was a part of that. Also observe that a reporter asked him the question, which is how they like to arrange for answers. I am not convinced either way; but speculation concerning the President’s mental health vis-a-vis these events is very premature, to say the least.

  23. jonst says:

    Three…two on the inside, one on the outside. Ann Marie Slaughter.

  24. oofda says:

    And Sullivan was on CNN last night with Anderson Cooper and Christaine Amanpour. He actually made sense next to Amanpour, who was heatedly demanding that the “United States do something.” The woman hasn’t met a crisis yet that she doesn’t want to turn into a war.
    They all were absolutely certain that Assad had ordered the chem weapons to be used. No mention of possible Saudi or other Sunni intervention. And for that matter, the Suuni-Shi’a split was unmentioned as well.

  25. Anna-Marina says:

    The final ignominy, the outright treason:
    NSA shares raw intelligence including Americans’ data with Israel

  26. Matthew,
    Thanks for the link to the Andrew Sullivan piece. I was particularly struck by one line:
    “As that moment of truth loomed, the Russians gave way on defending or denying Assad’s use and possession of chemical weapons.” This seems to me to exemplify perfectly a general disappearance of a basic concern for elementary factual accuracy which characterises much contemporary American and British journalism.
    Quite patently, at no point have the Russians been ‘defending’ the use of chemical weapons by Assad, and they couldn’t have been doing so, because they have never stopped ‘denying’ that he has ever used them. Of course, it is perfectly possible that in ‘denying’ that he has used the weapons, they are cynically disseminating disinformation, and that they are complicit in his use of these weapons.
    Had Sullivan suggested this, his piece could have led on to a serious argument about whether, in this particular instance, the Russians are lying through their back teeth, or telling the truth. In the event, his decision to ignore easily ascertainable fact makes his journalism worse than useless: it is both morally corrupt and dangerous to the security of his adopted country.
    What compounds the problem is that anyone with the most basic familiarity with the politics of the post-Soviet space ought to be aware that the Russian security services are both the perpetrators, and also the objects, of some elaborate and sometimes seriously bizarre ‘information operations’. It may very well be, for example, that the account of the sourcing of the chemical weapons given in recent piece by Wayne Madsen is the result of a Russian ‘information operation’.
    (See http://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2013/09/11/getting-bottom-rebels-chemical-weapons-use-in-syria.html )
    However, I am left with a profound puzzlement about Obama, which the Sullivan piece reinforces. In both cases, it may simply be that they are too naïve even to contemplate the possibility that the supposedly decisive ‘evidence’ against Assad could be the product of an ‘information operation’. An alternative possibility, however, is that Obama has been fully aware that this is so from the outset, and has all along been complicit in the ‘information operation’. Yet another possibility is that he was gullible at the outset, but having being inveigled into committing himself, cannot now afford to admit any scepticism.

  27. fred says:

    Just read the puff piece on Ms. Rice in Vogue while having a cup of Joe in a local coffee
    Shop. ‘Elitist’ was the first word that came to mind. Has that woman ever had any actual
    experience with people who work for a living, or anyone outside of D.C./NYC? God help us.

  28. Medicine Man says:

    “His wife is evidently pleased and Fox News seems unhappy that World War III has not begun.”
    That’s interesting — was Michelle Obama against this lunacy?

  29. Duncan Kinder says:

    The entire Syria chemical story grows more and more like a Monti Python script.
    While any actual intervention now is unlikely, should it occur it would be so surreal that it simply would not be serious.
    Caligula once launched an expedition into northern Gaul, with Britain as his target as I recall. The actual military objective fizzled out, so Caligula along the banks of the Atlantic, proclaimed himself victor over the sea. He subsequently held a triumph in Rome, with his legions proudly carrying seashells and conchs as trophies.
    This is really the only precedent for the current situation that I can now think of.

  30. Medicine Man says:

    Sorry, Col.
    I just started reading the previous thread and saw the links to the first lady’s opinions on a Syrian intervention. Please disregard my previous post.
    It is interesting that she’s more moored to reality than Obama though.

  31. robt willmann says:

    You bet!
    No treaty exists on thermo-baric weapons, and since Russia was one of the first developers of same, some of the newer and smaller iterations of them can be of great use by the Syrian army and al-Assad against the “opposition”.
    And “to send a message”, as the U.S. likes to say via Obama and Kerry, the Russians could send a few larger thermo-barics to Syria for a little fireworks demonstration after the “rebels” take over a small village or part of an urban area and have cleansed it of natives. Putin was not shy about using such items during his “debate” with the Chechens.
    This would also have the amusing side effect of shutting down any righteous indignation and arm-waving by Obama and Kerry, since the U.S. has also enthusiastically used fuel-air and thermo-baric weapons, and continues to develop them.

  32. mbrenner says:

    Two evident truths emerge from these turbid waters.
    1. We are no closer to any resolution of the Syrian conflict than we were on August 20 despite all the sturm und drang.
    2. It is highly unlikely that Obama will ever resort to military action of any kind in Syria. His near death experience this past week doubtless has traumatized this less than courageous soul. Although he has no qualms about killing people (he is no pacifist) nor doubts about the intrinsic virtue of American actions, his past resorts to force (Afghan escalation, Somalia, Yemen,Libya – from behind, kill lists, etc) all had fail-safe elements – i.e. circumstances permitted him to avoid their spinning out of control (actual or spin control). Syria obviously carries no such provision.

  33. Apparently the foreign press has pretty much reached the conclusion that after the Obama speech none have a clue as to US FP in Syria or what US will do next!
    When great power intentions are opaque then time to really watch out for aberrant international behavior.
    Note in passing the 12th anniversary of 9/11 and Mr. Kean and Hamilton in a new report indicate in polite language that Congress is the source of all evil on Homeland Security.

  34. Edward Amame says:

    Indeed we should be grateful to the Russians. It looks like they provided face-saving cover for Obama: it was looking extremely doubtful that Harry Reid could muster a filibuster-proof 60 votes in favor for the vote that was supposed to be taken today and almost certain that the House would vote no.
    This was certainly not the smooth operation that Dick Cheney ran.

  35. Jose says:

    This will fall apart within a week or two, the chances for a unilateral strike are greater than ever. BSHO has no central belief or principal just goes by polls, that is why I only voted for him once.

  36. The beaver says:

    From WaPo:
    “I wish the president had said what he told Lindsey Graham and me in the Oval Office,” Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said at a Wall Street Journal breakfast this morning. “That he would support efforts to help the Free Syrian Army change the momentum and that would lead to negotiations that would lead to the departure of Bashar al-Assad.”
    dixit Sen. McCain

  37. Matthew says:

    Ex-PFC Chuck: Washington produces more interesting characters than Hollywood now.

  38. Matthew says:

    mbrenner: Drone strikes are almost a metaphor for our President. They are remote, impersonal, and present no risk to the operator in Nevada.

  39. Charles I says:

    omg sorry dear Pat, you made me laugh cause I know how true it is!
    If I was till a lawyer my ?’d be When did you stop killing humans? instead of “stop beating your wife”!

  40. Charles I says:

    and gives a second chance too.

  41. Medicine Man says:

    Your last paragraph is one of heavy importance for anyone interested in deciphering Obama’s motives, Mr. Habakkuk.
    Though I’m wary of buying in to the “branding” every politician comes wrapped in, I’ve often wondered if Obama really is a stubborn idealist who is all to willing to be misled, provided the deceptions flatter his biases.

  42. JohnH says:

    How to answer your question: stumbling and bumbling vs. planting seeds.
    The creators of the “planting seeds” narrative should try to find a pattern of such behavior. Finding examples of stumbling and bumbling is easy.
    Case closed?

  43. The Twisted Genius says:

    I have no idea what Obama wants to do about Syria from his rhetoric and actions to date. His speech last night did noting to clear this up. I do know that a substantial majority of the American people do not want us to get involved in the region no matter what is going on there. I also know that there is a substantial cabal of McCain/Graham/Rice/Power types that want to destroy the regimes in Syria and Iran on behalf of Israel. It’s the fight between these two groups that will determine any future U.S. actions or inactions concerning Syria. Obama is just a not so innocent bystander.
    As I mentioned a week or so ago, Russia is fully capable of doing another “Pristina Dash” and she did just that. The U.S. war cabal, Israel and the Saudis will do everything they can to derail the CW disarmament proposal. As Harper warned us, watch for a false flag move. I sincerely hope Russia quickly puts people on the ground in Syria to start accounting for and safeguarding the CW munitions. That would definitely be a Damascus Dash that would severely crimp the war cabal’s plans.

  44. Mark Logan says:

    David Habakkuk,
    I’d like to run this by you as a possible explanation: They deliberately left Assad plausible deniability, “a way out”. They lay all the evidence on the table and he’s a “convicted” war criminal with nothing to lose.
    Something about how ridiculous it is in our post “Iraq War Curve-Ball World” to be coy about evidence makes me suspect it had to be deliberate.
    The possibility of Obama, with the approval of Martin Dempsey and Hagel, two men I strongly suspect possess the “stones” to resign, would attempt to rail-road us into another cooked-intelligence based war seems very small. I see Kerry and the witches as “true believers” being “managed” in this, and Dempsey and Hagel the only two who Obama had to fully “read in” on his thinking.
    Just a guess. By all means, criticize this freely.

  45. Stephanie says:

    Given that State and the White House tried to walk back Kerry’s remarks as soon as they were out of his mouth, it was all probably completely unanticipated. It wasn’t the only gaffe Kerry made; if he’d been prepped to respond to a planted question one would think he would have had a more carefully worded answer ready, although of course this is Kerry we’re talking about.
    This doesn’t mean that such a solution hasn’t come up in previous discussions with the Russians. I would be surprised if it hadn’t. But if yesterday was a choreographed event the choreographer was no Balanchine.
    Re: Col. Lang’s original post. Seems to me it would be relatively simple to make a string of demands Assad can’t possibly meet and then declare him in non-compliance in the Rambouillet manner. Russian and China will object and the Administration (or some other Administration, Republican or Democratic) will reiterate its line that the UN is useless and proceed with a war. If Obama can wrangle an AUMF from Congress, even for an “unbelievably small” operation, anything goes – Congress loses all control. Obama may actually end up in a better position for war than previously, because he can say, “We tried.” The Syrians have conceded they have chemical weapons. No one seems to be hammering Obama on the subject of proof related to the attacks. Even if Assad can come to an agreement there’s no guarantee it will save him in the long term. Gaddafi did, and at an opportune moment NATO disposed of him regardless of the regional consequences.
    Which is not to say that Putin and Assad didn’t come out ahead on points. Putin made Kerry look like a doofus, admittedly not the most difficult task, and Assad evades a U.S. strike for the time being. (Assad wins just by hanging in there, actually.) Putin may figure that there will be no military strike, given the domestic and Congressional opposition. I would not take that to the bank.

  46. Charles I says:

    Was there in fact ever an official bottom line on Yuri Nosenko, never mind that other guy who redefected back home in the 90’s?

  47. J says:

    Due to the ugliness that Kerry/interventionists will attempt upon the upcoming negotiations, I propose some therapeutic relaxation and beauty before the negotiations begin:
    Катя Баженова – Пилот

  48. Imagine says:

    “Did You Know?: Two Secretive Israeli Companies Reportedly Bugged The US Telecommunications Grid For The NSA” [Jun ’13]
    references WIRED article “Shady Companies With Ties to Israel Wiretap the U.S. for the NSA” [Apr ’12]

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