The Obama administration has a strategy to bring people over to its side on Syria: Get them to watch a disturbing You Tube video.
This morning National Security Advisor Susan Rice opened and concluded her argument in support of a strike on Syriaby referencing videos of the attack which took placeAugust 21st. Early in her remarks Rice said “In recent days we’ve been shocked by the videos from Guta and other neighborhoods near Damascus.” And near the close of her statement Rice referenced cell phones and computers and said “Every adult American should watch those videos for themselves. See that suffering.” Rice went on to say that if people do watch they will come to the same conclusion as the President, i.e. that an attack on Syria is needed.
Moments later in the White House briefing room Jay Carney reiterated Rice’s statement saying “I mean I really think it is something that everyone should do, every adult certainly should do who has a concern about this–to view those images that were shown over the weekend and I believe are available now that demonstrate the horrific consequences of that attack…”
The administration also used the videos as part of “a grim presentation aimed to convince lawmakers beyond a shadow of adoubt that Syrian President Bashar Assad killed more than 1,400 people.” It’s not an exaggeration to say the White House is hoping You Tube videos will ignite the passions of Americans and lawmakers for an attack polls indicate they do not want. This is quite a reversal from what the same figures were saying a year ago about a You Tube video blamed for inciting passions in Muslims around the world.
If the Syrian videos are a provocation to action they are a genuine one. By contrast the anti-Muslim video was only a commentary, one man’s opinion of Islam. We take it for granted in the western world that individuals have free speech to publish their opinions, even if those opinions are offensive. Nevertheless, there is a kind of cosmic irony in having the administration rely on You tube videos to support the use of force in Syria.
The problem with the Obama administration’s new video strategy is twofold. First, the administration did not feel a U.S. military strike was warranted despite over 100,000 Syrians being killed in the past two years. We didn’t even provide gas masks that were requested prior to the attack? It seems a little late to call for outrage.
Second, most Americans would probably concede the attacks last month were horrifying and that Assad was responsible. The question is whether an “unbelievable small” military response by the United States will do anything to improve the situation. If what is happening in Syria is akin to what the Nazi’s did, as Harry Reid suggested again today, then the President’s plan seems timid and insufficient.
Americans can either be outraged and demand blood or they can be bloodless and decide it’s not our problem. If the former then the administration’s current plan is not nearly bold enough. If the latter it is merely a risk we don’t need to take. Either way, the current plan is not the right one.