Our ‘Credibility’ Is Gone, and Airstrikes Won’t Restore It

From the last Morning Jolt of the week:

‘Credibility’? It’s Gone. It’s Not Coming Back Until January 2017 at the Earliest.

National Review’s editors on Syria:

Credibility can seem an elusive commodity and one not worth firing shots over, but it is the coin of the realm in international relations, especially for a great power. . . . If we don’t act in this case, after all this windup, Iran and Hezbollah will take note of how little our admonitions to not acquire or use weapons of mass destruction really mean. We can’t know exactly what would come of our self-inflicted humiliation, but it would be nothing good. For that reason, we would vote “yes” on the authorization, although we think reasonable people can disagree, and we urge Congress to push the president to enunciate a Syria strategy beyond punishing it for its chemical-weapons use.

Here’s the thing: Even if we launch some cruise missiles and blow up some Syrian military buildings . . . our credibility is in tatters, anyway. Everybody knows our president makes promises he can’t keep, threats he doesn’t intend to carry out, bluffs and then gets mad when others call his bluff.

President Obama is who we thought he was. He is who we said he was. And we let him off the hook! (storms away from podium)

Here’s MSNBC creating a Facebook graphic, spotlighted over at Ace of Spades:

Except that you did set a red line, Mr. President. And we know “the world” didn’t set that red line, because “the world,” with the exception of Turkey and France, has decided they’re not willing to do anything militarily to punish Assad.

You notice Obama and Kerry keep insisting other nations are with us because they’ve issued statements denouncing Assad’s use of chemical weapons. Let me be clear: When a brutal dictator uses poison gas to kill hundreds of people, including children, issuing a denunciatory statement is almost literally the least you can do.

Lost credibility? We have a president and administration who couldn’t persuade the United Kingdom’s parliament to support unmanned airstrikes against a dictator who used nerve gas. It sounds like a joke. Diplomatically, that’s a six-inch putt, to put it in terms the president can appreciate. This is the salesmanship equivalent of selling beer in Ireland.

Ed Morrissey:

This credibility crisis goes beyond Syria, however, and extends to the whole Arab Spring, for which Obama seemed all too pleased to take credit not terribly long ago. He demanded Hosni Mubarak’s ouster and quick elections in Egypt, which turned a stable American ally into a barely-contained disaster, and then has vacillated ever since on how to handle the crisis. Obama then led a NATO intervention in Libya while claiming not to want regime change, but ended up decapitating the Qaddafi regime anyway. That replaced a brutal dictatorship that was still cooperating with the West on counter-terrorism into a failed state that has allowed for a rapid expansion of radical Islamist terror networks through the whole region.

The NR editors wrote, “the Obama policy of passivity has, so far, proved a disaster.” Even if the Tomahawks started flying, Obama’s inclination towards passivity will probably return with a vengeance, the moment everything went wrong. (Reminder: We still haven’t arrested, killed, or as far as we know, even pursued anyone for the attack in Benghazi.) It’s unlikely that Obama is transforming his entire worldview as a result of this painful experience.

He’s caught between a war he doesn’t really want to fight, and his fear of being exposed as a guy who draws red lines but doesn’t enforce them. So he’s splitting the difference by pledging to bomb Syria, but not that badly. That won’t restore our national credibility.

Most Popular

Film & TV

Why We Can’t Have Wakanda

SPOILERS AHEAD Black Panther is a really good movie that lives up to the hype in just about every way. Surely someone at Marvel Studios had an early doubt, reading the script and thinking: “Wait, we’re going to have hundreds of African warriors in brightly colored tribal garb, using ancient weapons, ... Read More
Law & the Courts

Obstruction Confusions

In his Lawfare critique of one of my several columns about the purported obstruction case against President Trump, Gabriel Schoenfeld loses me — as I suspect he will lose others — when he says of himself, “I do not think I am Trump-deranged.” Gabe graciously expresses fondness for me, and the feeling is ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Students’ Anti-Gun Views

Are children innocents or are they leaders? Are teenagers fully autonomous decision-makers, or are they lumps of mental clay, still being molded by unfolding brain development? The Left seems to have a particularly hard time deciding these days. Take, for example, the high-school students from Parkland, ... Read More
PC Culture

Kill Chic

We live in a society in which gratuitous violence is the trademark of video games, movies, and popular music. Kill this, shoot that in repugnant detail becomes a race to the visual and spoken bottom. We have gone from Sam Peckinpah’s realistic portrayal of violent death to a gory ritual of metal ripping ... Read More

Romney Is a Misfit for America

Mitt’s back. The former governor of Massachusetts and occasional native son of Michigan has a new persona: Mr. Utah. He’s going to bring Utah conservatism to the whole Republican party and to the country at large. Wholesome, efficient, industrious, faithful. “Utah has a lot to teach the politicians in ... Read More
Law & the Courts

What the Second Amendment Means Today

The horrifying school massacre in Parkland, Fla., has prompted another national debate about guns. Unfortunately, it seems that these conversations are never terribly constructive — they are too often dominated by screeching extremists on both sides of the aisle and armchair pundits who offer sweeping opinions ... Read More