Saturday, October 25, 2014

What's Good for the Gander

Will everyone rush to cash in their foreign policy chips while they believe they have the chance?

Hey, remember that grand Kerry-Lavrov chemical weapons deal a year ago that led to passing out Nobel Peace Prize laurels for removing chemical weapons from Syria? Yeah, Syria is attacking their enemies with chemical weapons:

ONE GRIM indication that the regime of Bashar al-Assad has been emboldened by the U.S. air campaign in Syria is the fresh reports of chemical weapons attacks on civilian areas. The Institute for the Study of War has compiled 18 allegations by Syrian sources of chlorine gas attacks by the regime since U.S. strikes against the Islamic State began in August. The first strike was reported Aug. 19 — the same day that the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said it had completed the neutralization of the chemical weapons stockpile surrendered by the regime. The most recent was reported last week, when government forces allegedly used chlorine gas against rebel positions in the suburban Damascus area of Jobar.

And here we are for all the world to see, looking like a de facto Assad ally by bombing ISIL while doing nothing significant (and certainly not visible) to assist non-jihadi rebels defeat Assad:

The [Syrian] army "took full control of the town of Morek in the northern Hama countryside and killed a number of terrorists and mercenaries," state television said in a news alert, citing a military source.

The town is significant because it sits on the main route between two of Syria's most populated cities. President Bashar al-Assad's force has intensified air raids on western areas in the past month and has been making incremental gains on the ground. ...

A rebel brigade in northwestern Syria said Morek should not be overlooked as a battle rages further north around the Syrian town of Ayn al-Arab, known as Kobani in Kurdish. ...

"Morek is more deserving of forces to prevent the progress of Assad," a statement from the Syria Revolutionaries Front said.

The group is aligned with the western-backed Free Syrian Army.

Iran has every reason to believe that if their client Syria can achieve this, they too can get a similar deal with America--become our partner and have their WMD status validated by our failure to do anything to stop them:

The Obama administration has sweetened its offer to Iran in ongoing nuclear negotiations, saying it might accept Tehran operating 4,000 centrifuges, up from the previous 1,300, according to a semiofficial Iranian news agency.

We keep moving closer to the Iranian position. And by refusing to end the negotiations that only result in our position weakening, even no agreement simply allows Iran to expand their centrifuge arsenal which stands at "9,400 operating centrifuges and another 10,000 that are installed but not in operation."

We are clearly not considered a serious power. Why should the world when at home, people don't think our president is motivated to do anything to solve problems that aren't already on his agenda?

Obama’s determined detachment conveys the feeling that nobody’s home. No one’s leading. Not even from behind.

A poll conducted two weeks ago showed that 64 percent of likely voters (in competitive races) think that “things in the U.S. feel like they are out of control.” This is one degree of anxiety beyond thinking the country is on the wrong track. That’s been negative for years, and it’s a reflection of failed policies that in principle can be changed. Regaining control, on the other hand, is a far dicier proposition.

With events in the saddle and a sense of disorder growing — the summer border crisis, Ferguson, the rise of the Islamic State, Ebola — the nation expects from the White House not miracles but competence. At a minimum, mere presence. An observer presidency with its bewildered-bystander pose only adds to the unease.

Drama? No Obama. And our enemies abroad are taking advantage of our apparent refusal to address crises.

Even in Iraq and the fight against ISIL in Iraq and Syria, which I think is the correct approach on paper, our ability to carry out this plan could be unraveled if people don't have confidence of our ability to stay the course amidst setbacks and even defeats in order to emerge victorious.

People have to carry out plans. If other people don't think our people will display a resolve that is in no way inherent in this administration's foreign policy, even a good plan can fail.

Nobody believes our "red lines" on bad behavior any more. God knows what level of pain we'll need to inflict to rebuild our reputation before more bad actors decide that they need to cross their local red lines while the opportunity is there.