In the UK school children used to learn about the War of Jenkins’ Ear (1739 – 1748) when Great Britain went to war with Spain. The war, actually about slave trading, was sparked off when Robert Jenkins the Welsh captain of a merchant ship was separated from his ear by Spanish coast guards. If eighteenth century Britain had its War of Jenkins’ Ear then 21st century USA is about to have its War of Obama’s Ego.
Harry S Truman famously had a plaque on his desk in the White House which read ‘The buck stops here’, a reminder to himself and others that ultimately the president bore personal responsibility. Truman even took personal responsibility for ordering the dropping of two atomic bombs on Japanese cities, probably the most awesome single decision a president has ever had to make. Unfortunately the present incumbent of the White House thinks he should pass the buck until the buck stops with you.
Back in August of last year at the height of a presidential campaign and wishing to appear a strong, decisive president Obama said, ‘We have been very clear to the Assad regime, but also to other players on the ground, that a red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized. That would change my calculus. That would change my equation.’
After clearly saying that it was he who had set a red line concerning the use of chemical weapons and subsequently finding that he may have to do more than talk and that his credibility will reach vanishing point if he does nothing, Obama has decided that he didn’t set a red line after all, we did. Yesterday he told a news conference in Sweden, ‘I didn’t set a red line. The world set a red line.’ He continued ‘My credibility is not on the line. International credibility is on the line.’ So the USA may be going to go to war to defend the credibility of a comment for which Obama refuses to take responsibility.
It may be barely acceptable for Obama to say to the American Congress, ‘Hey guys, I spoke off the cuff, could you please bomb a few Syrians because my credibility is on the line’. It may even be acceptable for him to say that, ‘My mouth wrote a cheque and it’s up to you guys to cash it otherwise American credibility is on the line’. However, it passes comprehension that he should say, ‘I goofed so I’m going to bomb Syria; but it’s you guys who are responsible, I’m doing it because your credibility is on the line.’
The whole world does not bear responsibility for the mess Obama has got himself in to.
This is a political move designed to deflect criticism at home and pass the buck to the world community. However, Americans rightly ask ‘If it’s about the world community, where are all the partners? Why us? Why can’t India, Nigeria or Brazil do the job? They have big armies and it’s their credibility on the line. Germany and Japan are rich and powerful countries, it’s their credibility on the line.’
Obama’s claim ‘It’s not about us, it’s about the world community’, rings hollow in the absence of a coalition of the willing. The only part of that international community whose credibility is supposedly on the line willing to stand with him is France, the one-time ‘cheese eating surrender monkeys’ and now suddenly embraced as ‘Our oldest ally’.
Sarah Palin, has perhaps the most pithy comment on the subject, ‘So we’re bombing Syria because Syria is bombing Syria? And I’m the idiot?’
The one group who are forgotten, and who, other than Syrian civilians, are likely to bear the brunt of the fallout from Obama’s vainglorious military escapades, are the Christians of the Middle East, particularly those belonging to Syria’s main local ally, Iran. More on this after a break of a fortnight.