In David Mamet’s 1997 black comedy “Wag the Dog,” the White House and Hollywood teamed up to fake a war and distract the public from a presidential sex scandal, assuring his re-election.
President Obama’s all-for-show impending attack on Syria, expected to last about 48 hours, is as cynical, if not as ambitious, as what Robert De Niro and Dustin Hoffman were up to in the movie.
The planned response to President Bashar Assad’s alleged mass slaughter with nerve gas won’t depose, neutralize or deter Syria’s terrorist regime. But it may stop Obama’s big talk two years ago about a “red line” on chemical weapons from being viewed — accurately — as an empty threat.
Syria has been on the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism since we started keeping a list in 1979.
Six years ago, Israel had to airstrike a Syrian nuclear reactor to keep Assad from building the bomb.
And before last week’s reports of chemical weapons atrocities, the U.N. calculated that as many as 100,000 have been killed in the current Syrian internal conflict, over 6,500 of them children.
So why is the U.S. suddenly shocked — shocked! — at a new alleged atrocity, as we scramble to do something about it?
Attacking a thug like Assad is not, in itself, a bad idea. But why such a hurry? A U.N. team arrived three days before the suspected nerve gas attack to investigate accusations of chemical weapons use made months earlier. Why not wait a week or two for their findings?
Is it because it might actually have been Syria’s Islamist rebels who committed the nerve gas attack — rebels to whom Obama gave support?
A Turkish jihadist website 14 months ago claimed that Syrian opposition forces obtained chemical weapons equipment from a Syrian army base in the northwest city of Aleppo. And Syria’s al-Qaida-linked Al Nusra Front has plotted sarin and mustard gas attacks, say recent reports out of Iraq and Turkey.
What’s more, the regime has been moving its chemical weapons frequently to keep them out of rebel hands.
Could Assad’s supposed attack have been, as the Foundation for Defense of Democracies’ Long War Journal supposes, “an accidental hit — of chemical stocks belonging to either the regime or the rebels — by the undisputed massive regime bombardment in the area at the time?”
We don’t know because Secretary of State John Kerry won’t reveal the oh-so-compelling evidence against Assad. Before attacking Assad, Obama should, at minimum, consult Congress and tell Americans what evidence they have.
Back in 2007, when candidate Obama was courting the Democratic Party’s peacenik base, he told the Boston Globe that “The president does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat.”
President Obama has apparently experienced an “attack route to Damascus” conversion to George W. Bush-style cowboy diplomacy, wagging not the dog but a skunk that reeks of political face-saving.
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This op-ed article was written by the editorial writers of the Investors Business Daily.