Red Lines, Dead Lines, End of the Line for Obama’s Foreign Policy
“If you cross this line, you better be prepared to kill me”.
So menaced trained military assassin Aaron Hallam, played by Benicio del Toro, in the 2003 hunter-thriller The Hunted.
Hallam was threatening military instructor L. T. Bonham, played by Tommy Lee Jones. Bonham is a former army leader who had trained Hallam into the lethal assassin, one who has gone berserk killing indiscriminately. Throughout the film, Bonham must neutralize Hallam to prevent his murder-spree.
In a similar vein, President Obama also drew a line, a red one, with Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, declaring that the moment he used chemical weapons, Assad would be crossing that line, and the United States would respond with military intervention.
Assad and his armies have not only crossed, but also danced on, and even reddened that red line with the blood of tens of thousands of Syrian rebels. President Obama did nothing.
President Obama has retreated from his red line statement, but he can no longer retract it. Recent news reports have skewered his waffling on this issue. Even “Daily Show” comedian Jon Stewart cannot refrain from mocking Obama and his red line reference.
President Obama drew a line, yet forgot to consult or seek the consent of Congress or the people.
Today, Obama faces a public both enlightened and wary about further foreign interventions into the Middle East. Voters grew increasingly frustrated with the unpopular wars in Iraq, Afghanistan has dragged on longer than Vietnam, and yet the White House diplomatic corps is neglecting history and ignoring the will of the people in this country. Syria beckons action, Obama claims, when in reality President Obama’s declaration to declare was and not just put him in a line, but rather drew a line of weakness around his presidency.
Taking advantage of Obama’s frustration, Republicans have grown increasingly reserved about foreign policy interventions, and rightly so. Iraq hurt the limited government, individual liberty brand of the GOP. Our democracy at home is under greater peril fiscally because of this nation’s military ventures abroad. Regarding Syrian, Democrats are split on the issue. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has pressed for intervention in the Levantine civil war-quagmire. Consistent progressive pacifist Former Democratic Congressman and current Fox Contributor Dennis Kucinich has never been passive about disparaging military action, on Iraq as well as Syrian. He further acknowledged that should Obama insist on military strikes against Syria without Congressional approval, he will be embracing impeachment articles soon after.
President Obama drew a line, and instead of putting Assad on the defense, Obama has prevented himself from governing with any respect of consistency. Even war-hawk US Senator John McCain has threatened impending impeachment should the President use force without the will of Congress.
The President’s aspirations of ruling by red lines and deadlines have reached a dead end.
President Obama believed in his powerful oratorical skills long after they wore out their usefulness (Olympics in Chicago, Obamacare). From his apology tour throughout the Middle East to his wavering support for Israel, Obama believed that he could shift policy with a word and a wink. Talks about red lines would be enough to forbear Assad, supposedly. The President was neither prepared nor authorized to kill anyone, let alone send troops on his own initiative, but he certainly killed his credibility with his red line stance. Now he has killed the unity of his Democratic caucus in Congress, where war hawks and peaceniks are divided, along with pro-Keystone versus pro-green, and the split on social issues like marriage and abortion and gun rights.
Within a week of contemplating a unilateral military strike, President Obama has now sought approval from Congress, mostly for cover, according to Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer. The President cannot cover up his lack of leadership, his broken character, and certainly his fraying foreign policy. Nor can he shore up the dying strand of American intervention as a viable agenda.
Regarding American interventionism as foreign policy, Obama crossed another red line, yet this red line is jagged, outlining the corpse of a defunct political/military agenda, one first articulated by President Bush in his second inaugural address:
We are led, by events and common sense, to one conclusion: The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands. The best hope for peace in our world is the expansion of freedom in all the world.
No, it doesn’t.
Syria crossed President Obama’s red line months ago, yet the President’s inaction demonstrates a reluctant acceptance, a more expansive savvy, one which recognizes that the United States is no longer read, nor able, to take down every dictator who demeans his people or dooms his sphere of influence. For the United States military arsenal to wage another war, whether with a Libyan no-fly-zone mantra or worse troops on the ground, will only kill the good will of this nation. Syria is a quicksand of foreign policy folly, the epitome of Western failure attempting to fan the flames of democratic success and republican legacies.