Congressional Democrats inherit “Darth Vader” policy mantle on Syria

As Obama edges towards unilateral action in Syria, Democrats in Congress show cowardice. Photo: These aren't the droids you're looking for: Democrats give Obama a free pass on Syria. (AP Photo)

WASHINGTON, April 29, 2013 – Congressional Democrats and Obama media apologists have officially lost all credibility in criticizing the Bush Administration over Iraq.

Despite all of candidate Obama’s lofty pre-presidential promises of peace and criticisms of “manifest destiny”-like Republican foreign policy, President Obama is breaking all of his idealistic standards in exercising the powers of war.

SEE RELATED: The White House says Syria is different from Iraq

British Prime Minister David Cameron capitulated in a speech today that “it is clear to me that the British Parliament, reflecting the views of the British people, does not want to see British military action. I get that, and the government will act accordingly.”

The Obama Administration could have (and should have) used the potential loss of Britain as a mission partner as a pretext to stand down from war. After all, in The Audacity of Hope, then-Sen. Obama warned against America going to war alone:

“ choosing precipitous, unilateral military action over the hard slog of diplomacy, coercive inspections, and smart sanctions, America was missing an opportunity to build a broad base of support for its policies … What I could not support was “a dumb war, a rash war, a war based not on reason but on passion, not on principle but on politics”


SEE RELATED: Top 5 Syrian sites Obama must not strike

“… I established a reputation for speaking my mind on hard issues – a reputation that would carry me through a tough Democratic primary.”

Voters who elected Obama for his anti-war idealism and rejection of unilateralism must have done a double take when today the White House appeared unfazed and ready to proceed into Syria, even alone if necessary. Despite outcries from a war weary American public, lack of solid support abroad and thin ice legal grounds for intervention, Obama who criticized the Bush Administration’s heavy handed military policy is now doing the very things he allegedly campaigned against.

Even the hawkish New Jersey Governor Chris Christie who at the 2012 Republican National Convention condemned the Obama Administration for an “era of absentee leadership in the Oval Office” later admitted in an July Aspen Institute summit that “President Obama has done nothing to change the policies of the Bush Administration in the war on terrorism and I mean practically nothing. And you know why? Cause they work.”

Democrats who mocked the former Vice President Dick Cheney for his assertion on pre-war Sunday morning talk shows and a VFW gathering that there was “no doubt” Iraq was amassing weapons of mass destruction are now themselves using the identical “no doubt” talking point on Syria.

SEE RELATED: Syria: The U.S. has learned nothing from Iraq and Afghanistan

Though an independent United Nations investigation into chemical attacks is still in progress, Obama media surrogates and congressional allies are insisting there is “no doubt” Assad used chemical weapons against his own people. Either Democrats have borrowed a copy of the much-vilified Dick Cheney war playbook, or they think so little of the average American’s intellect that they assume no one will notice the hypocrisy.

Obama apologists say Assad is butchering Syrians and cite “responsibility to protect” as their legal basis for throwing U.S. military weight into the civil war. Yet in The Audacity of Hope, then-Sen. Obama wrote:

“Like most analysts, I assumed that Saddam had chemical and biological weapons and coveted nuclear arms … That Saddam butchered his own people was undisputed; I had no doubt that the world, and the Iraqi people, would be better off without him. What I sensed, though, was that the threat Saddam posed was not imminent, the Administration’s rationales for war were flimsy and ideologically driven, and the war from Afghanistan was far from complete.”

President Obama has the opportunity to be the leader he has always wanted to be and historically accused Republicans of falling short of. Much like Saddam, Syria’s Assad has clearly butchered civilians but in the strategic sense, Assad does not pose an imminent threat to the United States and the legal justification for U.S. military intervention simply does not exist. The war in Afghanistan is also far from complete.

Obama should heed his own doctrine and follow his own advice. Until then, President Obama, the Democrats in Congress who enable unconstitutional war by silence and the left’s anti-war base have lost all credibility in speaking to the American public about the Iraq War and the Bush Administration.

Democratic Sen. Henry “Scoop” Jackson upon hearing of President Ronald Reagan’s controversial decision to send troops to Lebanon said “The danger of Americans being killed, the danger of divisiveness that would accrue from those developments … are all too real. A superpower should not play that kind of role in a cauldron of trouble, because sooner or later we are going to get hurt.”

Today one must wonder where the elected Scoop Jacksons are. Will congressional Democrats show themselves to be true liberals and oppose the war in Syria? Or are they so concerned about having Obama’s support for the upcoming 2014 midterms that they will allow Obama to betray all of their purported values?

Democrats are supposed to be for popular governance. 60% of Americans now oppose U.S. intervention in Syria, yet Obama appears set to go in anyway. Democrats are supposed to extol the value of international cooperation. America stands alone in calling for war as the whole world demands restraint.

Democrats ridiculed former Vice President Cheney in the lead up to the Iraq War for saying he had no doubt Saddam had WMDs. Now Democrats themselves say there is “no doubt” Assad is responsible for using chemical weapons against his own population. Democrats were so skeptical of war under President Bush, now they are so eager to start a new war.

What makes liberals so certain there is “no doubt” Obama is right to go into Syria? How can they be so sure of this dangerous policy?

For all their claims that former Vice President Dick Cheney was Darth Vader, maybe Democrats should listen to the wisdom of Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi on Syria: “Only a Sith Lord deals in absolutes.”

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Danny de Gracia

Dr. Danny de Gracia is a political scientist and a former senior adviser to the Human Services and International Affairs committees at the Hawaii State Legislature. From 2011-2013 he served as an elected municipal board member in Waipahu. As an expert in international relations theory, military policy, political psychology and economics, Danny has advised numerous policymakers and elected officials and his opinions have been featured worldwide. Now working on his first novel, Danny resides on the island of Oahu.

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