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The Man Who sunk Obama's Cult


By jumping the gun on Syria, President Obama has landed himself in a perfect catch-22 situation, says Saurabh Kumar Shahi
SAURABH KUMAR SHAHI | Issue Dated: September 15, 2013, New Delhi
Tags : Barack Obama | Capitol Hill | chemical weapons | Syrian war |

Inside the Capitol Hill, there is a saying about Barack Obama that has recently climbed the wall and has got itself known to the world. They say that Barack Obama thrives on ambiguity. By ambiguity, they mean ambiguity of opinion.

Political pundits and media analysts started noticing this trait by the middle of his first term itself. It was noticed that Obama’s appetite for the gray area is abnormal. It is very hard to pin-point what he stands for on most of the day to day policy issues. Nothing is iron-cast. So, when the opportunity demands, one can take whatever decision without appearing deviated from the original stand. It served him well all these years. When your supporters are enamoured by your cult rather than policy, it helps a lot. Obama mastered the art, and how.

But last month, he jumped the gun. When the news of a possible use of chemical weapons in the outskirts of Damascus emerged, Obama forgo caution and jumped the gun. Without waiting for the details to emerge, or UN inspectors to investigate, not only did Barack Obama tell conclusively that Assad regime used the chemical weapons but also vowed to hit him hard.

An occasional gung-ho has never harmed an American president, whatever one says. But here was a problem. When the evidence started emerging, albeit slowly; it started to become apparent that there was a valid chance that the rebels might have used the weapon. And then, there was a logical query of Cui Bono? To whose benefit?

“That the Assad regime was responsible for the chemical weapons attacks is perfectly possible but very, very far from certain. Particularly as those who claim to have the most certainty about it are precisely those who lied repeatedly about WMD.  That the Assad regime should risk this action now it is winning the war seems peculiar, to say the least.  But the truth is that even if it was Assad himself, nobody else has any legal right to intervene in this civil war without the express authority of the UN Security Council, and there is no possibility of that,” says ex-British Ambassador and strategic expert, Craig Murray.

It was very evident since the starting of unrest that Obama has put the use of chemical weapons as a red line for some sort of intervention. Logically then, it was in the benefit of the rebels and not the regime to use it. Also, why would the regime be reckless enough to use it merely kilometres away from the visiting UN inspectors? That when they are winning villages after villages back from the rebels.

But Obama jumped the gun and made open his decision to intervene. He was assisted in this debacle in more than a fair bit by his National Security Adviser Susan Rice, who looked quite charged up for the occasion. All this before US got even an iota of evidence in its hand. Even the by-now discredited evidence came a good five days later.

And then, the unexpected happened.  The British Parliament defeated the motion to go to war with Obama. Nobody had expected it. It was followed by a similar no from at least eight to nine other European countries, who are also member of NATO. President Putin mocked the evidence and stood with Syrian regime. Then a slew of opinion polls revealed that the public opinion, all over the world, including the US was against any intervention. Consequently, the pressure built on Obama to call for Congressional approval. That was something he did not want at the first place.

The Obama administration panicked. It was a perfect catch-22 situation. Going back on attack promise will undermine US’ and Obama’s stature. Passing it through Congress looks tough considering Republicans have the perfect chance of paying it back to Democrats for what they did during Iraq attack. Obama was the most vocal then calling the US attack without an approval, blatant disregard for law. He is now in a similar situation, without the support of NATO allies that Bush had. The regional Emirates and Kingdom, who were very vocal about the attack, started dithering as the war spilling inside their border became apparent.

The panic has led to further disaster. The evidence so forcefully presented by John Kerry, was discredited within a day. Fake photos, repeated use of “we know” instead of we have evidence and gaining of evidence through a possible Israeli or opposition channel led to its discrediting.

“The GCHQ listening post on Mount Troodos in Cyprus is arguably the most valued asset which the UK contributes to UK/US intelligence cooperation. It is valued enormously by the NSA.  It is therefore very strange that Kerry claims to have access to communications intercepts of Syrian military and officials organising attacks, which intercepts were not available to the British Joint Intelligence Committee. On one level the explanation is simple.  The intercept evidence was provided to the USA by Mossad, according to my own well placed source in the Washington intelligence community. Troodos did not pick up the intercepts because they do not exist.  Mossad fabricated them.  John Kerry’s “evidence” is the shabbiest of tricks,” explains Murray.

With the plan in disarray, Obama is looking at an almost certain humiliation. He’ll go against Syria, even without the Congressional approval. Possibly a tap on the wrist. That might or might not lead to further conflagration. But his cult will now be broken.

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Issue Dated: Feb 5, 2017