Many in the world consider the American president’s latest delay maneuver, as weakness and lack of resolve. The “victorious” Assad’s criminal regime, his Hezbollah allies and even the Iranian Mullahs are among the most vocal appraisers of the American president; they bathe in their own jubilation—“America is a barking dog, scared of biting our mighty, brave army,” they postulate.
The Israeli public is frustrated. Increasingly, the Jewish nation has been losing faith in this US president. Should American response to Assad’s use of chemical weapons on his own people turn impotent, Israelis are worried that the US President would not resort to using force to break off an emboldened Iran, whose nuclear ambitions would be bolstered by Obama’s retreat on Syria. The Ayatollah, they suppose, would dare crossing the red line; he would gamble calling Obama on his seeming bluff. Consequently, the Israeli government may come closer to taking preventive military action against Iran without US backing. The outcome may not be as comprehensive or as damaging to Iran as if the US had initiated the encounter. Consequently, Iran may be able to retaliate, and the next Middle East war may force the US to intervene, but without the advantage of instigating the opening move.
The American public is war-fatigued; it is reluctant to venture into a new military conflict while the muddle in Afghanistan is still brewing. Some even view Obama’s burden-shifting to Congress as a way out, an excuse for not following up on his red-line stipulation. Obama may excuse himself by claiming: “Well, I meant what I had said, but Congress…”
But wait a minute. Aren’t all these postulations a bit premature? What if by the end of September, the US and the world will be looking at a humiliated Assad, with his head between his knees; what if Assad will be weakened enough so that his recent winning streak in his civil war will come to an abrupt halt; what if Syria or its sympathizers fail or find themselves unable to retaliate to a mid-September US assault that shrinks Assad’s military potency to a the one assumed by a wounded raccoon; what if President Obama’s strategy—provided that Congress support and back his plan for Syria—provides the American president with added boldness and determination, effecting a more resourceful military campaign?
Of course, if Congress denies Obama’s request for support, then the skeptics’ early glee, the faultfinders, the Assads, the Iranians, the Russians, will be wholly justified. But there is little chance of that given the enormous stakes at the gate. At the end of the day, Congress would find it downright irresponsible to have the US eminence and super power status sink down to its grave, emulating a “Munich Moment”.
Obama has taken a gamble. I believe he will prevail. I believe he will come away stronger and more determined. I believe he will follow up on his red line warning to Syria. I believe Assad and Iran will be taught a great lesson. His gambit will pay off at the end. Sacrificing a short term glory for a long term evident victory is what the great chess champions have been putting into practice all along.