December 8, 2021

TRAGEDY TOMORROW, COMEDY TODAY

If it were not for the tragic implications for our future national security, today’s astonishing declaration by our president, would be comic.    It should have not taken us by surprise.    President Obama, that continues to challenge Carter for the title of our weakest president ever, has handled the continuing dangers of the Middle East conflicts in a confusing and seemingly contradictory way.

When the first “Arab spring” revolts started, and surfaced in Egypt he was indecisive in his support or rejection of the then dictator Mubarak.    Even though we should strive for other nations to achieve a democratic system, we have to actively participate in the events so that a friendly dictator will not be substituted by an unfriendly one.    By being passive, our country let the Muslim Brotherhood, the then only organized group, to take power.    Even when it was clear that their intention was to establish a radical Islamic regime, antagonist to our interests, we continued to assist them.    Only when the military, under intense public pressure took over, did we start to understand the elected Egyptian government for what it was.    Since then we continue to vacillate between supporting and accusing the new leaders.

In Libya, we acted under pressure by France and others and took the lead, from behind, in the deposing of Gaddaphi.    Our lack of a clear strategy for the after, and general disinterest, provoked the deaths of four brave Americans in Benghazi.    The country is at present in a state of anarchy, and quickly becoming a breeding ground for terrorists.    Iraq is evolving into a sectarian war, due to the lackadaisical attitude and failure of our President to secure a pact for our forces to remain, as it had been planned.    Afghanistan was fought, and lives lost, with a withdrawal date predetermined assuring chaos soon after we abandon it.    In the present civil war in Syria, we presumed Assad as gone in numerous public appearances by our then Secretary of State Clinton and Obama.    We chose not to arm and support the democratic inclined rebels, and saw how radical elements took over the armed opposition.    Our lack of resolve turned the conflict into a lose/lose proposition for our interest.

In an impromptu act of verbal bravado in the heat of his constant campaigning, Obama spurted his famous “red line”, in the event of the use of chemical weapons.    This statement that mainly was a confirmation of his executive inexperience and narcissism was ignored twice when the Syrian regime did just that.    In the recent past that nefarious action was repeated with an increase of its scope.    Preparation for war commenced, and after a case for action was made by our present Secretary of State Kerry, in a very eloquent and almost presidential tone, it seemed that it would be only a question of when.    Most of the options were conveniently “leaked” and added to the confusing statements by Obama describing this engagement as being decisive but limited, a deterrent but brief, not designed to change the regime.    His rhetoric was ambiguous and contradicted his previous assurances espoused when he criticized President’s Bush Iraq war.    There was no need for UN authority, he claimed, because Russia would veto any resolution!    Russia was not in the Security Council when Bush fought for and received a strong declaration by the international organization?    He would act unilaterally if required, this after getting only support by France.    How about the unilateral Bush decision with over forty nations going to war with him?    Even so, an immediate, though mostly ineffectual, response was expected.    Today he declared that he had decided to exercise a military encounter, with the usual limit caveat, with no timetable and only after receiving authority from Congress.

The only explanation for this surprising turn of events would be that it was a purely political decision to save face after his unfortunate prior statement painted him in a corner.    Even if the act of war (different from the declaration) is a constitutional responsibility of the executive branch, the authorization by Congress is always a good approach.    In this occasion it would have been better for the Nation, if he would have explained to the American people how the Syrian situation had changed and it was in our strategic interest at this time to remain in the sidelines.    After all “what difference does it make” how the civilians were killed.    Are the deaths of over one thousand more tragic than the other one hundred thousand already slaughtered?    We long for a president that makes decisions in order to improve and secure our lives, not his fragile ego.

Fernando J Milanes MD

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