That was then, this is now.
Then there was a Republican President. Then Democrat Presidential Candidate Obama said:
Obama: The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation. – Interview with Charlie Savage of the Boston Globe, December 20, 2007
Now President Obama seems prepared to take military action against Syria, without even seeking the authorization by the United Nations or Congress.
Then a certain Democrat Senator from Delaware threatened:
The president has no constitutional authority to take this country to war against a country of 70 million people unless we’re attacked or unless there is proof that we are about to be attacked. And if he does, I would move to impeach him. Joe Biden, In a December 2007 interview with MSNBC’s Chris Matthews
Now Vice President Biden is extolling the virtue of taking action without the impediment of Congressional approval.
The blatant hypocrisy on display would all be cynically amusing if it weren’t set against the backdrop of a Syrian policy that defies reason or explanation.
For two years the Obama Administration has ignored or dithered while thousands have died in Civil War that has become a humanitarian disaster. However, it is not our disaster; and reasonable people can disagree over wither or not we have any legitimate interests as a nation in intervention.
So why now?
Because a brutal dictator has used chemical weapons against his own people; who he was happily killing with conventional weapons for a couple of years now?
IF that is all it takes to justify intervention, then Senators Obama and Biden should have been four-square behind then President Bush for intervening in Iraq. There, another equally brutal dictator used chemical weapons to murder his own people (the Kurds). But, again, then it was a Republican president; so the standards were different and the criticism strident from Obama, Biden, and Democrats in general.
Then, President Obama called for a regime change in Damascus:
For the sake of the Syrian people, the time has come for President Assad to step aside. – President Obama, August 16, 2012
Now the White House goes out of its way to reassure Assad (and his Big Brother, Vladimir Putin):
I want to make clear that the options that we are considering are NOT ABOUT REGIME CHANGE. – White House Press Secretary and spokesman, Jay Carney, August 27, 2013
Then, President Obama drew a “red line” in the sand:
…a red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized. That would change my calculus. That would change my equation. – Obama at the White House on August 20, 2012
Now, despite Assad’s use of such chemical weapons the President warned would violate his “red line”, the President seems to be trying to find wiggle room:
We’re not considering any open-ended commitment. We’re not considering any boots on the ground approach. I have not made any decisions. – Obama in a public appearance after a meeting with Baltic leaders, today
All this helps explain why Obama today finds himself without credibility; at home or abroad. Nobody outside of the his own Administration and the most ardent Obamites like Chris Matthews take this man seriously when it comes to foreign policy; in Syria and elsewhere. Even our most steadfast ally in the world, Great Britain, has backed away from the President (not surprising, really, considering how for the last 5 years Obama has gone out of his way to put distance between us and our friend across the Pond).
His policy blows in the wind; entirely hostage to whims of the moment and politics at home. His calculus is not whether or not his actions and words will further American power and influence; but how it will influence his domestic agenda and the politics of the next election.
American influence in the Middle East has never been lower. Into the vacume we are leaving, other Powers are stepping in. Putin’s Russia is particularly eager to regain the influence they lost there after the ’73 Yom Kippur War, and Anwar Sadat kicked the Soviets out of Egypt. There is even interest in a better relationship with Israel, as that long-time American ally feels increasingly friendless as a result of its chilly relationship with the Obama Administration. And Islamic fundamentalists and radicals are pleased at our decaying position, and just as eager to replace us as the dominant force in the Middle East. The Iranians want to create their “Shite Crescent” of control; while the Muslim Brotherhood and Al Qaeda want to see a pseudo-Caliphate created.
Meanwhile, to appear to be strong and involved at last, Obama prepares to launch a billion dollar cruise missile strike against questionable targets with ambiguous goals; desperately seeking a way out of the corner he has painted himself into when he drew his “red line” in the Syrian sand.
A foreign policy blowing in the wind.