Yesterday, President Barack Obama was preparing to gird the nation for war against Syria. Today, he agreed to let the United Nations decide. Yesterday, UN Ambassador Samantha Power was dismissing the UN for its inaction. Today, the Obama administration is depending on it. Yesterday, National Security Advisor Susan Rice suggested opponents of war did not care about innocent Syrian children. Today, the war is off (for now).
The dramatic reversal of Obama’s hapless Syria policy was government-wide. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid drew analogies to the Holocaust just a few hours before postponing Wednesday’s planned vote on a Syria attack. Former Obama speechwriter Jon Favreau, who has been roped in to sell the Syria plan, penned an Orwellian “War for Peace” op-ed in the Daily Beast. Unfortunately for him, it ran this morning.
Obama’s flip-flop on Syria has been so astonishingly fast that it nearly broke the all-time flip-flop speed record. (It fell just short of the current record, also held by Obama, for promising in a speech to pro-Israel activists in 2008 that Jerusalem would remain “undivided”–a comment his aides walked back mere minutes later.) Still, the scale and impact of Obama’s Syria reversal deserves its own place in the record books.
It would fit right in alongside the Suez crisis of 1956, in which British Prime Minister Anthony Eden fumbled away his country’s position as a major global power. By then, Britain’s influence was already in decline, a fact that Eden refused to accept. The decline of American power, by contrast, was far from inevitable when Obama took power: it is America’s hegemony that he cannot accept. Syria is the culmination of that denial.