Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Sad Little Man in the World's Biggest Office

I did not watch President Obama's speech last night. I could not bear the thought of it. I watched the US-Mexico soccer game which was played before a Columbus, Ohio crowd that was much more pro-American than the sad little man in the White House. I rarely watch Obama's speeches any more; I can't stand his mannerisms, smirks, arrogant pose with nose in the air. I read the texts the day after. I have now read the Syria speech text. You can, too, if you want to say you have, but it's not worth the bother.

What to say about this speech? I can start by noting that the opening paragraphs come about two years too late. The first half of the speech is the sort of address that Presidents make when they are telling the American people about something that the President has decided to do, to wit, to respond to an imminent threat to American interests, with the punchline being, "Air, land, and naval forces of the United States have begun a campaign to . . . "

Hear we have Obama speaking,
When dictators commit atrocities, they depend upon the world to look the other way until those horrifying pictures fade from memory. But these things happened. The facts cannot be denied. The question now is what the United States of America, and the international community, is prepared to do about it. Because what happened to those people -- to those children -- is not only a violation of international law, it’s also a danger to our security.
<...> 
If fighting spills beyond Syria’s borders, these weapons could threaten allies like Turkey, Jordan, and Israel. And a failure to stand against the use of chemical weapons would weaken prohibitions against other weapons of mass destruction, and embolden Assad’s ally, Iran -- which must decide whether to ignore international law by building a nuclear weapon, or to take a more peaceful path. 
This is not a world we should accept. This is what’s at stake. And that is why, after careful deliberation, I determined that it is in the national security interests of the United States to respond to the Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons through a targeted military strike. The purpose of this strike would be to deter Assad from using chemical weapons, to degrade his regime’s ability to use them, and to make clear to the world that we will not tolerate their use. 
That’s my judgment as Commander-in-Chief.
Forget the logic employed and the lack of credible evidence so far presented. Let's take Obama at his word. Accept that Assad has used chemical weapons. Accept that this use presents a danger to US security. Accept, as he says later on, that as President he has the authority to strike Syria militarily.

OK, so what's he going to do? Will he man-up and act on his professed beliefs that the situation in Syria presents a danger to the US and that he has the authority to respond in a military manner to that threat? Will he act, then accept the consequences of his actions both in terms of domestic politics and international fall-out? Nope. Not at all. This is a man dedicated to avoiding consequences of principled actions. In essence, he will do nothing.

After all that war talk and macho chest beating, his "plan" is to . . . dither. He doesn't want Congress to vote right now: put it off; no hurry; I'll get back to you. The fact is he got completely outplayed by Putin, who seized on the stupidity of John "Gafemachine" Kerry, and managed simultaneously to put Obama in a box and offer him a way out of that box. Obama lies when he implies that he and Putin developed this proposal together some time back. The facts are quite different: Putin made the offer for some sort of international control or supervision of Syria's chemical weapons a couple of weeks ago, but it was flatly rejected by Obama. The proposal came back to life when Kerry, as the State Department has admitted, "misspoke" by giving Assad a week to give up his chemical weapons to avoid our "unbelievably small" attack. Putin pounced and made his offer anew, and got the Syrians to go along. The whole issue, in other words, the whole imminent threat and imperative to act charade has now been booted to some as yet undetermined international process, which will undoubtedly involve the UN Security Council--the same body essentially dismissed by Obama's Ambassador to the UN--and what could be virtually endless rounds of negotiating some text with no teeth. Obama is now sending Kerry to meet his Russian counterpart Lavrov; not a cheery thought. I know Lavrov, having clashed with him at the UN, and Kerry is no match for him.

Meanwhile, of course, Russia has enhanced its stature in the region and, as if to emphasize that it now considers itself at least the US's equal, has announced that it intends to sell Iran a new sophisticated SAM system and help it build a new nuclear reactor. There you go, President Obama. Another success for you right up there with Benghazi and "Fast and Furious."

Mr. Obama, you built this; the rest of us will pay the price for years to come.

WLA

63 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. Well, they're getting what they've always wanted: America greatly diminished, no longer the world's superpower. Like Mom always said, "Be careful what you wish for". These people are beyond disgusting. May God have mercy on our souls.

    LibertyGrace"sGrandma

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    1. Absolutely true. As a foreign service brat, I watched our enemies plan much of this scenario. They always knew that, if they took their time, our tender hearts would overtake our brains.

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  3. Russia today is not the Soviet Union. Russia has returned to its Christian roots. It has re-embraced its inheritance. While the West is busy destroying Christianity and any Muslims that say NO to the 7th century, Russia is activity coming to the aid of besieged Christians in the region while the West does nothing.

    So then why is Russia in alliance with Iran and Syria? Syria gives Russia its only navel base in the Med. Iran is geographically very close to Russia and they do not want the US any closer to them. They were betrayed by the Bush promise not to expand NATO east toward Russia. They also see a consistent pattern of the West using jihadis against their allies and them in the region. So by being in alliance with Iran they can control Iran and also what it does with nuclear power. Do you think that Russia would allow Iran to use nuclear weapons against Israel, and a nuclear response from the West? Russian agents are all over Iran and know exactly what they are up to. The Russian don't like the clerics in Iran any more than we do; this is realpolitik.

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  4. Although I for one am happy the "velocity of events" has slowed I'm frankly resigned to what Orwell described in "Shooting the Elephant."

    But hopefully, this littlish intermission might give some time to stock up on ammo. Maybe strategy though that seems farfetched. "A Bridge Too Far."

    I also am hopeful (not much) our "leaders" might read Orwell's essay. For all the good that would do.

    Arkie

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    1. Arkie, glad to make the acquaintance of another fan of Orwell's "Shooting and Elephant". It was one of the most profound things I ever read, next to the Bible. So much in government and politics is a case of supposed leaders and rulers being pushed along on the expectations of the governed.

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    2. Sadly, I doubt this crowd would even get the message. For now they'll try to jostle this collecting Syrian WMD diversion about with the Russians and maybe toss it into the UN channel too. Here's a link to Orwell's essay, http://www.online-literature.com/orwell/887/

      libertybelle

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  5. Diplomad, you can't tell us you've met Lavrov and not give us details.

    Anyway, when you mention Kerry versus Lavrov is a mismatch, are you talking Von Ribbentrop versus Molotov bad?

    Worse?

    Regards,

    -Blake

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    1. The Lavrov story is quite funny. I will tell it anon.

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    2. Okay, this should be good. Although, considering you and your wife decided to go see a revolution once, and found the episode not without humor, pardon if I start thinking about the old saw "be careful what you wish for."

      Regards,

      Blake

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  6. The speech?

    "Bray of prigs"

    Dutch

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  7. Seems like a good time to be a tin-horn dictator. Dip, do you know any small countries that we, your readers, can take over with you as our leader. Heck, your Texas followers probably are a larger standing army than most backwater countries have.

    Think of how much fun it would be.

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    1. Read the book "How to Start Your Own Country" for how difficult an endeavor this is. Unfortunately, my impression of the Diplomad is that he's too realistic to lead such an effort. Which is a pity since it would surely be entertaining :).

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    2. Starting your own country can’t be that hard. Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia are still with us. Most of the states of the Caucasus are still here. Keeping your own country when your neighbor is Russia, that’s hard. Even if the border remains, your country could Finlandize.

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  8. It's clowns all the way down. Who writes these speeches for Obama? Valerie Jarett?

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  9. The undergrad dorm room philosophers are now in charge.......God help us!

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  10. After the Beslan Massacre, and numerous other terror atrocities, one would think that the Russians would be very active partners in a fight against islamists. We have many things in common with them in this regard. Yet somehow, we are at odds as our Leaders try to ally us with islamists against a valuable Russian ally.

    Why would our leaders take such a course? against what one would think are our national interests? Who is it that is giving such advice? Methinks something is rotten in Foggy Bottom...

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    1. After the Beslan Massacre, and numerous other terror atrocities, one would think that the Russians would be very active partners in a fight against islamists.

      Tough at the moment.

      Bear in mind the Olympics in Sochi. And Chechnya.

      Arkie

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    2. Well, the Russians ARE against the Islamicists in Syria. We're the ones who've been backing the Ikhwan and Qaida folks in Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, and now, Syria.

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    3. Yeah I know Kepha.

      I was being 'just a little' facetious being as the folks Russia was against at the Beslan school were Wahhabists.

      Sunni's oddly enough.

      Ark

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  11. paul vincent zecchinoSeptember 11, 2013 at 7:50 PM

    The photo of the current AG violating NY law by holding a rifle during the 1970 takeover of Columbia University says it all.

    To know them during their late 60s acid-drenched commie-infatuated all night pizza, beer & mescaline 'policy' discussions was to understand their congenital love of 'the masses', worship of government force, and intense animus for liberty and individual people.

    Their finest moment, their crowning achievement, was breaking into the college president's office, lighting his file cabinet on fire, and voiding their orifices on his desk.

    Forty something years later, as with the Bourbons who forgot nothing and learned nothing, they're still at it, reliving their college daze prior to shuffling off into early dementia, the result of entirely too many hallucinogenics during their extended adolescence.

    Paul Vincent Zecchino
    Manasoviet Key, Florida
    11 September, 2013

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  12. The important question is how will the current situation in Syria affect Obama's chances of being the next UN SecGen?

    Seriously, with Russia, follow the money - the arms money. Russia has learned that the Chinese do not buy the latest technology in bulk - just enough to be able to reverse engineer and undercut Russia on price. India has learned that Russia cannot make quality ships and planes and is now turning to the West for big ticket arms. Russia is going to lose a lot of sales without China and India as customers.

    Russia is backing Syria and Iran because it needs a good customer. If the new S_300 missile systems is rendered useless during an U S attack of Syria, further orders will dry up as Russian defense tech is deemed to be obsolete.

    After threatening the U S Navy with its new "carrier killer" missile, what would happen if the missiles fail to perform and our fast attack boats sink the Russian navy cruisers within minutes of launch? Who would buy Russian tech ever again?

    Putin has to mount a "Beau Geste" stratagem in hopes of keeping the US from exposing the low quality of Russian weapons. If the keep the bluff going long enough, them Obama may believe that the Russian military is too strong for the US to beat.

    Now is the time for Obama to read a good book about World War II. Has he ever heard of Taffy-3?

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    1. us weapons you say? very logical and all true, however there is just the little issue with spendthrift Obama and no dang money for the military.

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  13. Did not listen to the speech, so thanks for the summary. It is as puerile as I expected.

    Finally a cogent summary of the situation has been written by adults, not groups of affirmative action, wimmins faculty or facebook addicted losers. Surprise, surprise, surprise. Vladimir Putin

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/12/opinion/putin-plea-for-caution-from-russia-on-syria.html?ref=opinion&_r=0

    The african king is not even the weak horse anymore, he is irrelevant, everybody understands that US policy is now run by a gaggle of females in State who get their foreign policy cues from People magazine, do not co-ordinate their message and jump in front of a microphone more often than they change their panties. Egypt faced down the US, Syria faced down the US, France has been burnt by supporting the king. The only support he has is the EU, an entity without an army a bunch of blowhards who can relate to barry the blowhard.

    Truly pathetic, Well done Vladimir you are doing what the RINO's won't.

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    1. The weird thing about the speech was that the speechwriters didn't rewrite it when Obambi decided to take Putin's lifeline rather than ask for an AUF vote; they just swapped out the central climax. I call it Obama's coitus interruptus speech.

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    2. I'll Cascadian, put the same comment here I put somewhere else.

      -I'll give Putin this. He knows something about, "in the national interest."

      Too bad it's Russia's.-

      Arkie

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    3. No denying that, it's just too bad the USA doesn't have a coherent foreign policy, middle east policy or any kind of policy.
      As you ably pointed out with liz O'bagy the country's policy is being contracted out to young wimminz with no experience and working for the terrorists. These are the kind of people that sway your feeble "leaders". The mcains, kerrys, clintons, and ultimately the african king.The RINO's cannot even mount a credible position against these bumblers.
      In the absence of any adult supervision, and as a non- US resident I am happy for Putin to make his case coherently and thoroughly embarrass the US "leadership". Wish it were not necessary. I have great respect for what the USA has done for us all in the last century.

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    4. It gets worse Cascadian.

      Syria has reached out to the Kurds.

      I'd hate to be in Ankara at the moment.

      Arkie

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    5. Cascadian?

      Forgive me for being in some disagreement with your

      the country's policy is being contracted out to young wimminz with no experience...

      Obagi (using the correct spelling) does have experience. Just that her experience derives from working with the Islamist "loons" who have - quite likely, come about as close as any entity - to suckering us into war.

      I sure wish "The Fat Lady" would show up - our luck, she's probably in Moscow.

      Arkie

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  14. On September 10, 2013 at 4:21 AM I left this comment:

    We wouldn't have gotten into this clusterf**k without (to what degree we individually can assign) the fine offices of General McCain & Admiral Graham on the flagship USS Elizabeth O'Bagy DDG.

    Now comes this:

    The Institute for the Study of War has learned and confirmed that, contrary to her representations, Ms. Elizabeth O’Bagy does not in fact have a Ph.D. degree from Georgetown University. ISW has accordingly terminated Ms. O’Bagy’s employment, effective immediately.

    http://pjmedia.com/tatler/2013/09/11/john-kerrys-syria-expert-fired-for-falsely-claiming-to-hold-a-ph-d/

    O'Bagy (it should be noted) was all over the WSJ & FOX - as well as "apparently" providing the map of chem-sites both the White House and Congressional Research Service provided to the public.

    "I'm sure" (sarc) FOX'll be the first TV media giant to put these newest developments on a morning show.

    [Big H/T to Diplomad Reader 'libertybelle']

    Arkie

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  15. Preface to the above comment came from a Diplomad thread September 3, 2013 at 10:03 AM:

    I found it odd that GEN Jack Keane repeated almost verbatim the points that Institute for the Study of War senior analyst, Elizabeth O'Bagy, presented in a recent WSJ article and also on Fox news. Glanced through ISW and found out that GEN Keane is the "Chairman of ISW's board" and instrumental in its founding. Then I came across a Syrian Emergency Task Force group and lo' and behold Ms. Bagy is listed as the "political director" or this resistance movement.

    libertybelle


    Arkie

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    1. hmmm I watched that blowhard the other night and asked just who he was from a retired military friend. thanks for the insight.

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  16. paul vincent zecchinoSeptember 12, 2013 at 8:57 AM

    Dear Diplomad & fellow readers:

    Your bio states you are a fan of the late Edward D. Wood, Jr., the renowned auteur, and his cinematic meisterstuck, Plan 9 From Outer Space.



    The speech you quote, do you believe the 19 year old 'writer' crabbed it from Plan 9 From Outer Space? Please, consider, to wit:

    "Yet these things happened. The facts cannot be denied."

    Isn't that what Plan 9's 'narrator' the sham psychic 'Criswell', said? "My friends, these things really happened. Can you prove they didn't...' or some similar prose?

    Your excerpts of the speech read like an Ed Wood script, as when the astute detectives in Plan 9 deduce that, "Chief Inspector Clay is dead! Murdered! And someone is responsible!"

    Indeed, these things happened. How can we say they did not?


    Criswell for Secretary of State! Redundant, yes, but can you prove it's not the case?

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  17. and now we are being treated to op-eds by the mongoloid Russian dictator about what is best for America and that really, we aren't exceptional after all. Maybe in 2008 and 2012 we proved it.

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    1. ... we aren't exceptional after all ...

      Oh irony. Given "who" observed that in the first instance.

      *Hint - Potsdam.

      Ark

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  18. Like I said a few days ago, the Ditherer-in-Chief is simply looking for a way out without having to take any flack. Which is pretty much what he did with the speech, do nothing at all and brag about it.

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  19. Going on a bit of a tangent here, but to extend the argument about Obama, McCain, and the others that are highly influenced by women. If you look at how women relate, it is horizontally, that is, peer to peer, and it results in endless petty catfights, as they compete to be the queen bee amongst the peer group (academia often follows this model, too). Men, on the other hand, relate vertically, alpha and beta, with physical or intellectual kicks to the gut, in a "takedown" kind of environment. Putin plays the man's game, gets in the takedown when the opportunity arises. Our leadership isn't even on the same playing field. Put another way, our leadership is the guy with the sword in the Indiana Jones movie, making a big scene, signifying little, the feminine model. Putin is Indiana, pulling out the gun and firing, the male model. Really a pathetic situation for our side.

    Dutch

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    1. A Venus/Mars or left brain/right brain scenario? We need a Margaret Thatcher if we are going to play this role?

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    2. She sure knew how to play the game from a position of strength. When you play to win, not to talk about it, it is easier to calibrate and dial back your responses, while using the unspoken threat of "going off" to your favor. When you play to talk about it and to score incremental gains among the peer group, there is no real threat to "go off", and calibrating your responses to the strong side are very difficult to do and get away with. The calibrations of your response tend to be uncertain, changing, and empty of any real threat or unspoken strength. I think that is where our side is, at this time. Which is very dangerous, as the other side(s) get tempted to go for the jugular, or our side panics and lashes out, because the situation feels so out of their control.

      Dutch

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    3. David from Down UnderSeptember 12, 2013 at 11:41 PM

      Dutch the likes of Baroness Thatcher are thin on the ground in the West today. Her no nonsense "don't f*** with us" response to the Argentine invasion of the Falklands should be compulsory study for the so-called leaders of the West

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  20. His logic only makes 'sense' with the assumption that violence must be avoided at any cost. For a long time I thought Obama was taking his cues from Carter, but this is more along the lines of Chamberlain.
    -Reader #1482

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    1. true however with the exceptions of chamberlain was sincere and truly thought he was doing the right thing though very misguided. Obama on the other hand couldn't spell sincere even with a dictionary.

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  21. Seems I best get used to being the turd in the punchbowl.

    This wasn't all Obama's fault - this mess took bi-partisanship.

    Lots of it.

    Arkie

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    1. Failure to act by Obama 18-24 months ago when some good could come from it is nobody's fault but his. Syria has been armed by the Russians since the Cold War. We only have one commander-in-chief.

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    2. Ley me hasten to add...it should be "fly in the punchbowl" and "turd in the swimming pool". A matter of scale don't you know? :) :).

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  22. Oh right Whitewall, I forgot about "scale."

    I was limiting my thinking. From 2008:

    Russia’s long-term strategic goals included:
    Increasing its control of the Caucasus, especially over strategic energy pipelines. With a pro-Russian regime established in Georgia, it would [bring] the strategic Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline and the Baku-Erzurum (Turkey) gas pipeline under Moscow’s control. By regime change in Georgia, Moscow is also trying to gain control of the energy and transportation corridor that connects Central Asia and Azerbaijan with the Black Sea and ocean routes overseas—for oil, gas, and other commodities. In 1999, Western companies reached an agreement with Central Asian states to create the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline. So far, this corridor has allowed Azerbaijan and partly Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan, to bypass Russian-controlled pipeline networks and transport its oil from the Caspian Sea basin straight through Georgia and Turkey, without crossing Russian territory. … Russia would clearly like to restore its hegemony over hydrocarbon export routes that would considerably diminish sovereignty and diplomatic freedom of maneuver in these newly independent states.
    Russian control over Georgia outflanks Azerbaijan from the West, denying the United States basing and intelligence options there in case of a confrontation … As early as March 2008, as least one of the intelligence services of the Baltic Republics was warning that Russia planned a war against Georgia later that year … But these warnings were not communicated often enough and at a high enough level to attract significant Western attention. In essence, the West and Georgia were talking past each other, with the former taking the long view toward Georgia’s eventual NATO membership and cautioning it not to do anything in the short term to damage that process, and the latter insisting that its sovereignty and territorial integrity were being compromised and warning that it could not stand by while Russia continued a process that amounted to annexation of Georgian territory. Apparently forgotten by the West in its desire to at once reassure and restrain Georgia was any meaningful attempt to deter Russia from further destabilizing actions.


    Arkie

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    1. Sorry. Best remember the link - just in case anybody wants to read 114 pages.

      http://www.strategicstudiesinstitute.army.mil/pdffiles/PUB1069.pdf

      Ark

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    2. Excellent recap! Only Assad Jr had not been embroiled in a civil war of his own until recently. Russia's glorified gas station in Syria is a tenuous hold on the area.

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    3. Can't take advantage of cheaper "construction materials" without good architectural planning.

      Ark

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  23. Apparently voyager 1 left the solar system today.. NASA refuses to speculate on how far out of the solar system Obama's foreign policy is.

    http://www.cnn.com/2013/09/12/tech/innovation/voyager-solar-system/

    -Reader #1482

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  24. Syria is old news and will now sail into the sunset.

    The big issue is American policy with respect to vanishing red lines. One and only one question for Obama, Kerry, the Congress with respect to red line policy:

    Is there a red line associated with Iran's development of a nuclear weapon? Yes or No?

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    1. No, I am serious.

      If the world does not know if there is or is not an Iranian red line, that is much more dangerous than knowing.

      This is the most important question in the world right now. Syria is unimportant.

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    2. In fact, because the red line credibility has been so damaged by this President, it is incumbent upon the President and the Congress to confirm its existence or not.

      If it exists, then the President and Congress should formalize it, so if it is crossed there is no hesitation or question of authority surrounding its enforcement. Moreover, because of all this "pin-prick" and "unbelievably small attack" BS, those in charge should clearly define the consequences of crossing that red line.

      The time to do it is now. Just another unfortunate consequence of amateur hour at the White House.

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    3. If our allies (i.e. Israel, Saudi) think that there is a red line, and Iran thinks there is not, then a cataclysm is guaranteed.

      If there is certainty now, it will be ugly, but not WWIII.

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    4. Recall that ol' school playground taunt?

      "Put up or shut up?"

      Congress and the White House'd have to agree to agree.

      Don't see that happening.

      Ark

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    5. The problem today is that no matter how clearly or precisely our US leadership describes or defines a "red line", there are going to be real doubts that we mean what we say. So the line will be tested, perhaps incrementally and by leaving the door open for us to rationalize or justify their crossing of it. That's why this is such a dangerous situation, once the playground bully has his way with you, the other bullies line up, and the only effective way to change the equation is to take one of them down, hard. That is the situation we face now.

      Dutch

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    6. Succinctly correct Dutch.

      Ark

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  25. Doesn't this whole Obama-Kerry mess impact the Israeli strategic planning as much if not more than anyone of the other participants?

    To the extent that Israel has been counting on the projection of US military power and prestige as a shield against the Iranian nuclear program, aren't they more likely to consider a strike against Natanz and other sites than they would otherwise be?

    Whatever small amount of confidence that Netanyahu had in Obama has got to be run down to nothing at this point . . . . .

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