World View: Obama Echoes Truman Doctrine Pushing Syria Intervention

World View: Obama Echoes Truman Doctrine Pushing Syria Intervention

This morning’s key headlines from

  • Obama gives a surprisingly coherent defense of Syria intervention
  • Senate Foreign Relations Committee approves military action in Syria
  • Russia’s president Putin accuses John Kerry of lying
  • Iran’s government splits over al-Assad’s chemical weapons

Obama gives a surprisingly coherent defense of Syria intervention

Obama with Sweden's Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt in Stockholm on Wednesday
Obama with Sweden’s Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt in Stockholm on Wednesday

I listened to part of President Barack Obama’s press conference inStockholm, Sweden, on Tuesday. He was asked a question about NSAspying, and he rambled on for about 15minutes without saying anything coherent. In the past couple of weekshe’s said one dumb thing after another about the situation in Syria and made a chaotic mess of American foreign policy. 

So imagine my shock and surprise when he gave the clearest andmost coherent defense of U.S. military action that I’ve yetheard when he was asked about Syria: 

First of all, I didn’t set a red line; the world seta red line. The world set a red line when governmentsrepresenting 98 percent of the world’s population said the use ofchemical weapons are abhorrent and passed a treaty forbiddingtheir use even when countries are engaged in war.

Congress set a red line when it ratified that treaty. Congressset a red line when it indicated that — in a piece of legislationtitled the Syria Accountability Act — that some of the horrendousthings that are happening on the ground there need to be answeredfor.

And so when I said in a press conference that my calculus aboutwhat’s happening in Syria would be altered by the use of thechemical weapons, which the overwhelming consensus of humanitysays is wrong, that wasn’t something I just kind of made up. Ididn’t pluck it out of thin air. There’s a reason for it. That’spoint number one. 

Point number two — my credibility is not on the line. Theinternational community’s credibility is on the line. And Americaand Congress’s credibility is on the line because we give lipservice to the notion that these international norms areimportant. 

And when those videos first broke and you saw images of over 400children subjected to gas, everybody expressed outrage: How canthis happen in this modern world? Well, it happened because agovernment chose to deploy these deadly weapons on civilianpopulations. And so the question is, how credible is theinternational community when it says this is an international normthat has to be observed? The question is, how credible isCongress when it passes a treaty saying we have to forbid the useof chemical weapons? 

And I do think that we have to act, because if we don’t, we areeffectively saying that even though we may condemn it and issueresolutions, and so forth and so on, somebody who is not shamed byresolutions can continue to act with impunity. And thoseinternational norms begin to erode. And other despots andauthoritarian regimes can start looking and saying, that’ssomething we can get away with. And that, then, calls intoquestion other international norms and laws of war and whetherthose are going to be enforced.

It’s laughable that he claims he didn’t set a red line, but that’snot why his response was coherent. 

Obama’s response is fully in the spirit of the Truman Doctrine, put forth by PresidentHarry Truman in 1947 and making the U.S. the Policeman of the World.Truman’s reasoning was that WW II was so expensive, and cost so manylives, so intervening in the Greece/Turkey crisis of the timewould cost only a tiny fraction comparatively and would be well worth it if itprevented a new world war. President John F. Kennedy repeated thistheme in his inaugural address. 

Obama’s reasoning is that the world must prevent the use of chemicalweapons, which could lead to a new world war, and that this justifiesAmerican military action. This is a modern day justification that’ssimilar to the Truman Doctrine. 

Unfortunately, President Obama earlier said so many dumb things, hehas little credibility left. And nobody knows what Obama’s plans arefor Syria if he wins Congressional approval. White House

Senate Foreign Relations Committee approves military action in Syria

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee has approved a resolutiongiving U.S. President Barack Obama authority to take military actionagainst Syria over its use of chemical weapons on civilians. Themeasure must pass both houses of Congress to become law and isexpected to face stiff opposition that splits both parties. 

The Senate committee approved a plan that would give Obama authorityto order limited strikes against Syrian military targets for 60 days.He could extend the window by another 30 days under certainconditions. The resolution does not authorize the use of groundtroops. It states military action must be aimed at deterring andpreventing Syria from carrying out future chemical weapons attacks.VOA

Russia’s president Putin accuses John Kerry of lying

Russia’s president Vladimir Putin, who is giving massive amounts ofadvanced heavy military weaponry to Syria’s psychopathic presidentBashar al-Assad for use in massacring civilian women and children, andwho feels free to order the invasion of Georgia or any other countrywithout getting permission from the U.N. Security Council,on Wednesday accused U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry ofbeing a liar: 

“I watched the debates in Congress. A congressman asksMr. Kerry: ‘Is al-Qaeda there?’ He says: ‘No, we are telling youresponsibly that they are not.’ … 

[The Syrian rebels’] main combat unit is al-Nusra, an al-Qaedaunit. They [the US] are aware of that. … He [Kerry] lied. And heknows that he lied. This is sad.”

It turns out that Putin misquoted Kerry, but Putin is attacking theUnited States, hoping to stop the bleeding of his own popularitynumbers which have been plummeting. Furthermore, Putin risks majorembarrassments on several issues this week with the G-20 summittaking place in St. Petersburg. 

It turns out that Russian public opinion is indifferent to the fate ofSyria’s al-Assad regime but is extremely upset about a number ofother issues, including: 

  • Putin has imposed extremely punishing trade sanctions on Ukraine in retaliation for Ukraine’s moves toward signing an association agreement with the European Union. This subject will be mentioned by European countries attending the G-20 summit.
  • Russia’s Far East has experienced catastrophic flooding in August, and Putin was slow to respond and did so ineffectively. (Think of Hurricane Katrina.)
  • Moscow is holding mayoral elections on Sunday, with implications for all of Russia. Putin’s candidate, Sergei Sobyanin, is being threatened by an upset victory from opposition leader Alexei Navalny. Putin is denying Navalny any media time, but he’s gaining quickly because of an effective grass-roots campaign. Putin’s candidate is expected to win anyway, in the same way that Putin’s candidates won the last couple of elections — through massive corruption and vote fixing.
  • As we reported yesterday, Obama is snubbing Putin at the G-20 meeting but will meet with Russian gay activists to embarrass Putin.

Ria Novosti and Jamestown

Iran’s government splits over al-Assad’s chemical weapons

Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani has been a leading dissident inIran’s government since the 2009 presidential elections but is stillhighly revered as a hero of the Great Islamic Revolution of 1979.Last week, Rafsanjani blamed Syria’s president Bashar al-Assad for theuse of chemical weapons in a radio interview, as posted on an Iraniannews web site: 

“The Syrian people have had more than 100 thousanddead and eight million displaced inside and outside. The prisonsare full of people [and] have no more space, some have takenstadiums and are filled. Bad circumstances rule the people. Onone side, the people are chemically bombarded by their owngovernment and from another side, today, must await Americanbombs.”

Since this was far from Iran’s policy, the remarks were taken downfrom the web site and altered to say something completely different.Rafsanjani may be in serious political trouble for having spoken thetruth. One MP is quoted: 

“We are impatiently awaiting Mr. Hashemi[Rafsanjani’s] denial and plainly and correctly announcing hisposition. We also request the Ministry of Intelligence toinvestigate this matter and report the truth to the people. Ifthis tape is real … [it means] that he seeks to weaken theResistance Front against the Dominant system, which of course isuntrue in my opinion.”

Another MP said even more ominously: 

“I have seen that speech’s video and certainly thevideo cannot be manufactured. Of course Hashemi [Rafsanjani]stated those words and it is his opinion. 

Perhaps Mr. Hashemi views the country’s expediency in this, butoverall [one] must request explanation from him to plainlyannounce his opinion. 

Some have said that Mr. Hashemi’s statements are a cooperation ofsorts with America, while it is not like this at all becauseMr. Hashemi condemns America. Perhaps Mr. Hashemi’s opinion hasbeen that if the Syrian government used chemical weapons, wecondemn these measures but will not stop supporting Syria. 

So long as the majority of the Syrian people support thegovernment, we will also support them. Supporting Syria is veryimportant for Iran because they are the Axis of Resistance, and incase of their elimination [Lebanese] Hezbollah will no longer beeffective. 

The Syrian government must implement the necessary reforms. Iffrom the beginning, it did not exhibit violence in reacting to theprotests of a section of the people, we would not have reached thecurrent point, but overall we considered the Assad governmentacceptable by the majority, therefore we supportthem.”

Iran is in a generational Awakening era (like America in the 1960s),and although Rafsanjani is in the older generation of survivors of theGreat Islamic Revolution, he’s been taking the positions of theyounger generations in Iran’s Awakening era “generation gap.” In the2009 presidential election, several leaders supported the views of theyounger generation, and many of them were thrown into jail. Some ofthem have never gotten out. Rafsanjani has survived so far, but oneof these days he’s going to tell the truth once too often, and thenthe Supreme Leader will do the equivalent of tying a cement block tohis leg and tossing him into the Caspian Sea or the Persian Gulf. 

American Enterprise Institute and Reuters and American Enterprise Institute

KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Syria, Bashar al-Assad,Sweden, Fredrik Reinfeldt, Truman Doctrine, John F. Kennedy,Senate Foreign Relations Committee,Russia, Vladimir Putin, John Kerry,Sergei Sobyanin, Alexei Navalny,Iran, Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani 

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