Monday, September 2, 2013

Trying and Failing to Understand Mr. Obama’s Syrian Strategy

Brilliant Political Move or Incoherent Ramblings of a Ineffective Leader

The President of the United States needs to understand the politics of his role as much as the other factors.  This President has shown no understanding of the politics of the Presidency, or even any indication that he knows it is important.  The politics of the Presidency means building public support for the individual in the office, and not just a favorable election outcome because he was the least worst candidate.

Mr. Obama’s Syrian policy thus far has been the following.

  1. Announce that the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government would be a line in the sand that would trigger U. S. military response.
  2. State that the U. S. would/could/might/ do something when the evidence was conclusive that Syria did use chemical weapons.
  3. Dither around while public outrage at the use of chemical weapons in Syria dissipated, robbing him of needed public support.
  4. Decide, belatedly, that he would have to have Congressional approval for any action.
  5. Didn’t know, or didn’t care that Congress was not in session.
  6. Will wait on Congress to return, thus delaying further any action and returning to action 3 above.
  7. Providing his enemies (and some friends) in Congress with the opportunity to embarrass him by denying him the authority he seeks, an outcome that is more likely than not to happen.
  8. Appearing weak, indecisive and unable to work his will, leaving him highly vulnerable to the coming battle over taxes, spending, the 2014 budget and the debt ceiling.

It looks like this is the strategy of a man determined to lose, determined to waste the rest of his Presidency by playing the role of a weakened leader.  Is there any method in this madness?

One possibility is that the President is seeking defeat in order to (1) rid him of the obligation to take military action in Syria which is clearly unsupported by the American people, and which will lose support every day, and (2) to portray Republicans in Congress as people who will use their power to thwart the will of the President in foreign affairs and the military for partisan political advantage.

The conclusion here, the President has no idea of what he is doing, but if he does have a strategy similar to the one described above he is playing a big gamble, with a loss meaning he goes down in flames politically and individually.

This don’t look good. 


  1. I was looking forward to your post on Syria and you did not disappoint. But I disagree that he could go down in flames. Kerry, maybe (perhaps he is falling on his sword for Obama) but not Obama. Telling Congress "we can go intervene in Syria, somehow, maybe, if you are ok with it" and that washing his hands of the matter does not really hurt him if Congress comes back with a "no." Especially considering how few Americans care what we do in Syria anyway.

    It will be the next battle over taxes, spending, and the debt limit that you mention when Obama goes down in flames.

  2. McCain and Graham seem enthusiastic about a Syrian intervention. Which makes me very nervous.