Monday, April 4, 2016

While I'm at it, let's... about another one of President Obama's alleged foreign policy "mistakes": that red line in Syria. I actually think it was one of the president's best decisions -- I really do.

Business Insider has a piece that's typical of the conventional wisdom on the subject, "Former US defense secretary: Obama hurt US credibility when he backed down from his red line on Syria." A sampling:

Former US Defense Secretary Robert Gates told Business Insider that the Obama administration's decision not to act after the regime of Syria's embattled president used chemical weapons against civilians was a "serious mistake" that hurt America's credibility in the world.

"Backing away from reacting once the red line was crossed impacted American credibility not just in the Middle East, but I think it was being watching in Moscow and Tehran and Beijing and Pyongyang and elsewhere," Gates said. "So not acting in response to crossing the red line was a serious mistake in my view."

Gates also said: "The rest of the world must know that when the president of the United States draws a red line, that it is dangerous, if not fatal, to cross it."

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Who does that remind you of? The guy at the top of this post? I won't go into the whole history of the Vietnam War but suffice it to say that Johnson knew as early as 1964 that the war was a fool's errand but stayed in (and escalated it) to maintain U. S. "credibility." The result? Almost 60,000 American soldiers died. (Click here to read all the Vietnam War casualties.)

So, my question is, does President Obama get any credit for all the carnage that didn't happen because, unlike LBJ, he changed his mind on a silly "red line"?

Some people might say that Obama "overlearned" the lessons of Vietnam. Perhaps. But, as a child of the seventies, I'd say he learned them just about right.

1 comment:

Ed Crotty said...

Agree totally - Obama left it up to congress, who did NOTHING.