Tagged Chemical Weapons

Let’s Please Stop Bragging about Our “Achievements” in Syria

During President Obama’s address to the nation this past Wednesday, he said the following: Abroad, American leadership is the one constant in an uncertain world.  It is America that has the capacity and the will to mobilize the world against terrorists.  It is America that has rallied the world against Russian aggression, and in support of the Ukrainian peoples’ right to determine their own destiny.  It is America –- our scientists, our doctors, our know-how –- that can help contain and cure the outbreak of Ebola.  It is America that helped remove and destroy Syria’s declared chemical weapons so that they…

The State of Speechmaking about the State of the Union

Last night’s State of the Union address was replete with platitudes, buzzwords, lame rhetorical tricks, and the same old same old. There was nothing, new, path-breaking or consequential that came out of it. Given former White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs’s admission that President Obama “stopped trying to change Washington years ago,” I suppose that none of this should come as any surprise, although we are left to wonder why we should have elected and re-elected a president who promised us Change We Can Believe In if he “long ago” decided to give up on delivering that change to the rest of…

In Which I Am Disappointed. Again. (China Policy Edition)

I had hoped that the Obama administration would put the kibosh on efforts on the part of the Chinese to expand their air defense zone. I had hoped that the administration would be both firm and adroit with the Chinese, and that the administration would cause the Chinese to believe that they could retreat from any potential conflict without losing face, thus making such a retreat more likely. And I had hoped that the administration would restore American power and credibility abroad in the process. So much for those hopes: After its initial, surprisingly strong reaction to China’s declaration of an air…

Mishandling the Syria Crisis

Mike Rogers, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, makes the entirely sensible point that the Obama administration failed to respond to the crisis in Syria in an adroit manner. As Rogers points out, nothing is being done to prevent the Assad regime from continuing to slaughter the Syrian opposition via conventional weapons. I recognize that there is a special brand of awfulness that is attached to chemical weapons, and that said special brand of awfulness elicited the horror and opprobrium of the international community, but if the Obama administration and the rest of the world wanted to be outraged about…

A Friendly Note to the Obama Administration

Not that you aren’t aware of this, guys (at least, I hope that you are aware of this), but the Chinese are testing you. Try not to fail the test by actually allowing the Chinese to expand their air defense zone. Rather, inform the Chinese–quietly but firmly–that the United States will not recognize the expansion of the zone by filing any flight plans with the Chinese, and state that the Chinese will be responsible for any and all confrontations that may occur in the future. Additionally, let it be noted that there is absolutely no need whatsoever to inform others…

Shadi Hamid on the Obama Administration’s Diplomatic Non-Victory

Scathing, and entirely accurate: A deal with Russia on chemical weapons may be a “win” for President Obama but only in the narrowest sense. He managed to avoid a war he desperately did not want. But with the near-obsessive focus on chemical-weapons use, the core issues have been pushed to the side. These were always more or less the same — a regime bent on killing and terrorizing its own people and a brutal civil war spilling over into the rest of the region, fanning sectarian strife and destabilizing Syria’s neighbors. For his part, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is effectively being rewarded…

And Now, Military Action in Syria?

The Obama administration seems set to attack the Syrian regime with approximately two day’s worth of air and cruise missile strikes in response to the regime’s use of chemical weapons against the Syrian rebels. In the immortal words of Demi Moore, “I strenuously object!”1 Here’s why: We have no strategic interest whatsoever in entering as military actors in the midst of the Syrian civil war, lest we want to prolong the conflict in order to bleed Iran (a Syrian ally) dry. (And yes, there are some very real moral qualms associated with such a move.) Two day’s worth of air and cruise…

Wanted: Better War Planning by Better War Planners

Who reads passages like the following from this news report  on the American decision to arm rebels in Syria, and feels comforted? “Arming the Syrian rebels is unlikely to tip the balance in their favor,” said Shadi Hamid, director of research at the Brookings Institution’s Doha Center. “It might have made a difference a year ago, but, today, the Assad regime — particularly after re-taking Qusair — has the advantage.”Even some U.S. officials are worried that Obama’s reluctant decision to provide limited amounts of small arms and ammunition to the Syrian opposition is enough to drag the U.S. into a third Mideast…