Questions on Obama’s intent in Syria and the Middle East

It would be ironic to see Obama justify bombing Syria when he opposed the Bush administration’s attack of Iraq in the post-911 world. Photo: President Obama in the Rose Garden. (AP)

SAN JOSE, August 31, 2013—  At the end of this long hot summer, President Obama finds himself dealing with a hotly debated decision as the fallout from the “Arab Spring” morphs into a mother of quandaries filled with multifaceted questions.  Recently, President Obama has made it clear that he has not  decided upon whether to bomb Syria or leave well enough alone. It would be ironic to see Obama justifying the bombing of Syria when he was opposed to the Bush administration’s attack of Iraq in the post-911 world.

What was that about again? As most would recall it had something to do with chemical weapons and WMDs and the dictatorship of one man controlling his people by absolute oppression. And Senator Obama at the time was against all that President Bush was doing in Iraq; of course Obama was not occupying the White House at the time, so it must be the significant variable providing the evolution of his wisdom in this case.

Sadly, the entire reality of what is going on in the Middle East at this point in history is inextricably linked to the United States. In addition, what President Obama may decide in the near future will affect history significantly – and it would not be limited to the people of the Middle East. In effect, when Obama drew the proverbial line in the sand saying he would not tolerate the use of chemical weapons against the Syrian people, he painted himself into a corner with few exit options. His reputation as a world leader now seems to be on the line. Or, has that reputation already deteriorated?

This past Wednesday the Speaker of the House, John Boehner, requested that President Obama provide clear reasons for the United States to utilize military force in whatever way against the government of President Bashar Assad. As the top Republican in the House, Boehner sent a letter to Obama requesting that the president answer 14 specific questions regarding the administration’s recent announced intent to use the U.S. military against the oppressive Syrian government regardless of whether the United Nations or any U.S. allies would support such a move.

Speaker Boehner is essentially echoing concerns that are being voiced by a number of congressional Republicans and Democrats about the underlying purpose of military involvement after it was alleged that the Assad regime  had used chemical weapons against his own people last week. However, it is not totally clear that Assad ordered a chemical attack against his people, and the United States has not presented proof publicly. The United Nations has sent weapons inspectors into Syria to investigate the incident and determine the facts.

Many in Congress, currently on summer recess, are wondering about the veracity of the evidence, while administration officials like John Kerry have leveled blame against Assad and are pushing for a U.S. attack. Yes, this is the same John Kerry that criticized the Bush administration for an “inappropriate” attack against Saddam Hussein in Iraq. It is odd, but it may be that Democrats are convinced that when they authorize the firing of missiles and military force against any nation, they are more justified than the Republicans.

Despite the Obama administration’s announced intentions, even many Democrats are skeptical of whether lobbing missiles into Syria will be in the best interest of United States’ foreign policy and there are questions whether military attack would really be aimed at regime change. If all this seems eerily familiar, it is because these were some of the same issues that were raised before President George W. Bush directed the U.S. attack upon Iraq in 2003. That endeavor was initially supported by both parties, but then the Democrats collectively changed their minds and parlayed it into a divisive political issue.

If one steps back a bit in time and looks at the overall situation of what has transpired in the Middle East since Obama became president, there are a number of fundamental questions and disturbing curiosities that the common citizen must be aware of in objectively looking at this highly volatile Middle East situation. Obama travelled to Cairo in June of 2009 and made a unique speech that seemed to inspire elements of the Islamic world. After this, the wave of revolutionary fervor started sweeping through the region as early as December of 2010 and President Obama sang praises of the Arab Spring.

Obama simply had to demand that U.S. ally Mubarak step down after 30 + years of dictatorship in Egypt. In addition, he was seemingly pleased when the Muslim Brotherhood secured control of the Egyptian presidency last year, but Obama said little about the authoritarian policies of former President Mursi and has seemed disappointed that Mursi was ousted recently. The regime change in Egypt initially seemed quite tidy as Obama only had to voice his intent that Mubarak forfeit his position of control and he stepped down. Yet,   it proved more difficult in Libya.

Obama voiced the same demands when it came time for the Libyan dictator, Moammar Gadhafi, to leave. However, it was not so neat and tidy. Gadhafi had a good thing going in Libya and vowed he would only vacate his supreme seat of power by being killed. Obama in this case was careful to orchestrate the attacks on Libya through NATO, which is essentially was the U.S. proxy in the administration’s efforts in ousting the Libyan dictator. Obama said little about the new government of Mustafa Abdul-Jalil in 2011 who declared all laws not conforming to Shariah law to be invalid, which severely limits the individual freedoms of the women who helped to oust Gadhafi. But such autocratic rule is not viewed by the White House with any serious concern. And then, there is the whole Benghazi attack and the deaths of Americans that is a continuing controversy with the Obama administration.

Now that the Syrian situation has escalated, the Obama administration seems somewhat determined to attack Syria without NATO and even without other allies. It is quite curious, indeed. Many Americans have growing concerns over what Obama is going to accomplish this time by having the U.S. military strike the Syrian government. Already concerns have been raised over the U.S. supplying weapons to the Syrian insurgents and Syrian rebels have warned that their efforts have been co-opted by al-Qaeda. The underlying question that has not been answered involves the essence of leadership in Syria if President Bashar Assad is ousted. Who fills the leadership vacuum? The pattern seems to be forming, yet many refuse to call it what it is.

What is Obama trying to accomplish in Syria? If one looks at his record thus far, the overt explanation is that he is supporting the removal of dictators in the Arab world, but when the smoke clears and the dust settles, so far, another dictatorship is erected under the guidance of Sharia law and absolutist Muslim governmental control. One could honestly wonder how many examples are needed to identify a trend in Obama’s foreign policy objectives? For now, the issue is on hold as President Obama has recently made it clear that he has not  made a decision about whether to bomb Syria. When he decides, will it be a decision made in favor of the interests of the genuine freedom of the suffering people in Syria, or made with the goals of those who favor Sharia oppression?    

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Dennis Jamison
Dennis Jamison
Dennis Jamison reinvented his life after working for a multi-billion dollar division of Johnson & Johnson for several years. Now semi-retired, he is an adjunct faculty member  at West Valley College in California.  He also currently writes a column on history and one on American freedom for the Communities at the Washington Times.


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