Writing at First Things, R.R. Reno shares his thoughts regarding the Syrian situation.

He says a lot in this article. http://www.firstthings.com/onthesquare/2013/09/syria-should-we-intervene

Dr. Reno suggests that we, beginning with the President and continuing down, do not take this situation seriously; he writes:

“Held accountable for failure, Bush paid the price for his clarity of purpose. In our present-day, 24/7 spin culture, I fear the main lesson was not to adopt different goals and policies, but instead to steer clear of geo-political clarity. By my reckoning the Obama administration has adopted an essentially rhetorical approach to foreign policy that is sufficiently vague to diminish the political dangers of accountability. I imagine Romney would have done the same had he been elected.”


“In this debate a signal truth needs to be kept in mind: America is an extraordinarily powerful nation. We have tremendous resources and our military is peerless. When threatened, our society becomes unified, and when attacked there’s plenty of resolve. I’m reassured by this truth, but I’m also frightened by it. If our leadership neglects maintaining our global hegemony because they believe in the self-sustaining power of the global system we’ve largely created, I fear our enemies will misjudge us, and in so doing provoke our wrath.”

Taking a slight turn here, I myself suppose that the President thought better of his “red line” immediately after he said it. I suspect he really did not consider it possible that chemical weapons would be employed. Consider this possible conversation in the Oval Office:

President: “What? Chemical weapons? How many deaths? No.”

Adviser: “Yes, sir. The evidence is certain. Chemical weapons.

President: “Well, how can we take advantage of this crisis? I must respond. We need to maximize the political liabilities of our political opponents and minimize the liability related to my ultimatum.”

Adviser: “Yes, sir. You must act decisively, boldly, even aggressively.”

President: “Indeed. We must flex our military muscle. Show that we still run the show here. However, no good can come of it.”

Adviser: “Perhaps, sir, there is a way to rattle the saber, show the colors, and withdraw from the brink. Perhaps we can react aggressively, then soften and show our prudence.”

President: “Yes, we will begin with force, gauge the response of our enemies, allies, and the other nations. We can assert leadership and determination, and then slow down if reactions are too negative. The legislature will immediately respond against us. We will use that. First, dismiss them as irrelevant. Assert that the time for action is at hand. Then, soften. Accept gestures, and then request cooperation from Congress.”

President: “What do you consider the odds Congress will approve of the use of the military?”

Adviser: “Not a snowball’s chance, sir. They will oppose.”

President: “Will they oppose anything I suggest, even limited action, surgical strikes, cruise missiles limited to obviously military targets.”

Adviser: “Yes, sir. They will oppose anything you propose. You know these Republicans. A few will speak for cooperation. The rest will shout them down. In the end, they will vote against any proposal you make.”

President: “Yes, of course. They will oppose me in anything I do in this. So, gather our best political strategists. We will play them like a fiddle. This will work out well in our favor. We can blame the Republicans for any and all sad results, and easily point to my prudence to graciously accept any good that may arise.”