Are They Out of Their Depth?
So, let’s follow a timeline, shall we?
In 2013, at the end of August, just after Assad used chemical weapons against his own people, President Obama wanted to make good on his “red line” and strike Syrian forces. However, he did not have much support in any quarter. In fact, the American people, allied Governments, and our own Congress (both houses) were not on his side. Here’s a link to a detailed article from the New York Times 9/1/13 edition:
Ten days later, Mr. Obama gave a speech to the American people, laying out his case for military action and his approach for gaining Congressional approval. Here is the transcript of his entire speech, courtesy of the Washington Post:
Congressional leaders made clear to him he would lose if they voted on approving such action, so he blinked and announced the vote would be delayed while diplomatic avenues were pursued instead.
In more than a dozen tweets in 2013 and 2014, the Exalted Cheeto repeatedly argued against intervention, emphatically stating that “Syria is NOT our problem.” He appealed directly to the President to “not attack Syria” as “there is no upside and tremendous downside,” telling him to “stay out of Syria.” And he backed Russian support for Assad, because they want “to get rid of ISIS as much as we do, maybe more…”
Bottom line: Despite Obama’s desire to do something militarily, we did not send in strikes, we basically did nothing.
During the primary and general election campaigns, the Exalted Cheeto repeatedly railed against his opponents, including Lindsay Graham and Hillary Clinton, who called for intervention. He also said things like, “Let Syria and ISIS fight it out. Why do we care” in an interview with CNN in September, 2015.
When Mike Pence called for military strikes in his Vice Presidential candidate debate in October, 2016, the Exalted Cheeto responded the next day, “I disagree.”
Let’s fast forward to a week ago.
Here’s a quote from US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley to wire reporters about Assad on Thursday, March 30: “Do we think he’s a hindrance? Yes. Are we going to sit there and focus on getting him out? No.” (Note: to her credit, she did label Assad a “war criminal” in remarks to the Council on Foreign Relations on the previous day.)
Here’s a quote from Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, while in Turkey and failing to reach agreement with that government on the use of Kurdish forces in the fight against ISIS, also on Thursday. Tillerson said the “longer-term status of President Assad will be decided by the Syrian people.” Apparently he is unaware they have no means to make that decision.