Scandalmongering the Letter of the 47

Syndicated columnist Michael Gerson has the goods on the GOP and is here to tell us “The true scandal of the GOP senators’ letter to Iran“:

“The true scandal of the Tom Cotton letter to Iranian leaders is the manner in which the Republican Senate apparently conducts its affairs.”

Opinions vary; many liberals think the true scandal was that the letter was a treasonous violation of the Logan Act. Right-winger Michael Gerson will set them straight by telling us the true nature of the scandal.  The manner in which they’ve conducted themselves, you see, not the content of the letter.  Not what they did, but how they did it.  So what was wrong with the manner in which they “apparently” conduct their affairs?

“The document was crafted by a senator with two months of experience under his belt.”

We know we’re off to a bad start when the very first sentence to address the nature of this “scandal” turns out to be an ad hominem swipe at the author. Sure, 101st Airborne combat veteran Senator Tom Cotton, the author of the letter, is a freshman, but does Gerson really mean to imply that it’s a scandal that this freshman Senator would pen this letter and pass it around for signatures? Know your place, uppity newbie!

“It was signed by some members rushing off the Senate floor to catch airplanes, often with little close analysis.”

The interesting question this raises is whether Gerson thinks this (alleged) cursory attention to detail in some way exonerates the signatories – as in, hey, you can’t blame them, they didn’t know what they were signing!

“Many of the 47 signatories reasoned that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s endorsement was vetting enough. There was no caucus-wide debate about strategy; no consultation with Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), who has studiously followed the nuclear talks (and who refused to sign).”

There were also no think tank studies commissioned, nor public polls taken, nor moderated televised debates, nor consultations with the United Nations, nor a hundred other bogus prerequisites Gerson can pull out of his ass.  What’s more, the reference here to Corker is disingenuous: Gerson, who first asserts his deep and intimate knowledge of the thinking of the Senate members, does not mention that Corker was working on getting legislation passed which would require congressional approval of any deal the Obama Administration is making with Iran.

Corker was a couple of votes shy so this was, at the time, a non-starter, but Corker would be unlikely to take part in a shot across the bow of the Executive Branch while he’s trying to scare up votes from Democrats. Gerson leaves this out hoping you’ll think Corker wouldn’t sign the letter because he’s the more senior and experience hand in these matters of international affairs, what with his being the Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee. Gerson must be highly selective in what he tells his audience lest they come to a conclusion other than the one proffered, like, for example, that Corker was busy chasing unicorns down the road to perdition, or say, digging for unobtainium.

“This was a foreign policy maneuver, in the middle of a high-stakes negotiation, with all the gravity and deliberation of a blog posting.”

Take note of the derisive characterization of this letter, then leave it aside to consider that the Senate was left few alternatives because the Obama Administration is effectively bypassing them. What’s under negotiation is an executive order, not a treaty, and as such it is not subject to a vote. Unless the Senate can come together to force their involvement (as Corker was unsuccessfully trying to do) they would have few options in terms of putting the kibosh on a done deal to which they are opposed.

“In timing, tone and substance, it raises questions about the Republican majority’s capacity to govern.”

It raises questions… by Gerson. The questions are raised by Gerson. Columnists always, always say “questions are raised” in the third person when, really, they’re the ones raising the questions.

“It is true that President Obama set this little drama in motion. Major arms-control treaties have traditionally involved advice and consent by the Senate.”

I love that – “traditionally” treaties involve the advice and consent of the Senate, as if it were optional. The reality is that this is the way our government is structured, by law, not “tradition”, and it requires their “advice and consent” in the form of an approval by vote.  The more hostile the country and the more far-ranging the ramifications of the deal, the more critical it becomes to get our government in agreement on it.  Cutting a deal on nuclear weapons development (a.k.a. “Ramifications City”) with Iran (our enemy – our mortal enemy, as they put it) unquestionably qualifies as something which should take the form of a treaty which is passed by Congress.

“Obama is proposing to expand the practice of executive agreements to cover his prospective Iranian deal — effectively cutting senators out of the process.”

… and by “proposing” Gerson means “acting” to expand the power of the POTUS to enact a de-facto faux-treaty by fiat. Gerson is soft-pedaling an Obama power-grab.

“By renewing a long-standing balance-of-powers debate — in a way that highlights his propensity for power-grabbiness — Obama invited resistance.”

… and again, while implicitly acknowledging this is a power-grab by a man prone to power-grabs, Gerson soft-pedals it by characterizing this as “renewing a […] debate”. Even if it were a debate – and what’s going on is not to be mistaken for a debate – renewing discussion of it does not “invite resistance”; it would bring to the fore the pre-existing differences regarding the issues at stake. What POTUS Obama is doing is bypassing the legislative branch in enacting a major “arms control” agreement with a hostile nation of islamofascist terrorists.

“And there is a practical argument for Senate approval of arms-control agreements: It strengthens and empowers the president in punishing violations. The whole U.S. government is placed on record promising consequences for infractions (if, of course, the Senate concurs).”

Senate approval in the form of a treaty would also bind the next POTUS in a way that an executive order does not, which was the point of the letter, and a point studiously avoided by Gerson.

“The exact shape of a possible Iran deal remains unknown. I’m on record predicting that it may be a bad one — a very unlikely throw of the dice that a terror-sponsoring, clerical regime will become a minimally responsible regional power”

Naturally the details are secret for now but we’ve gotten early intimations of the nature of what’s taking shape, and it’s outrageous. No comprehensive on-site inspections, continuation of uranium enrichment, etc., and it all comes with a ten-year expiration date. Indeed, a “glide path” to getting a nuclear weapon while Iran achieves regional hegemony at our invitation, not an “arms control” agreement. There’s a lot to hate about this deal and the SOB responsible for it.  As a precursor to a deal the Obama Administration has removed Iran and their proxy Hezbollah from the 2015 Worldwide Threat Assessment of the Intelligence Community.  Take a moment and let all of this sink in.

Getting back to this Gerson column, remember the promise of revealing the nature the “scandal” of the Senate letter? Did you spot it? Here’s the scandal: The Republican Senators reminded the genocidalist Iranian jihadists that any “agreement” they reach with our POTUS is not binding on any future POTUS.

The “scandal” is that they attempted to preemptively sabotage the deal by telling the truth: That any “deal” with POTUS Obama that doesn’t take the form of a treaty is probably time-limited and therefore of little value; what they need to get an agreement of lasting value is for that agreement to take the form of a treaty.  Any such agreement would need to pass a Senate vote, and would undoubtedly get more meaningful concessions out of the Iranians.  That’s a possibility only so long as they are under financial or military duress to do so, which is doubtful under our current POTUS; POTUS Obama won’t hold Iranian feet to the fire, and the Iranians won’t agree to a meaningful, enforceable deterrence to their pursuit of nuclear weapons without that.

The strategy of the letter isn’t so much to raise doubts about the long-term viability of such a deal with Iranians because they don’t particularly care about that anyway, what with their having no intention of abiding by it anyway.  No, that’s not too cynical, it’s why a set of on-site verification requirements would make this deal a non-starter with the Iranians.  Rather, the purpose of the letter was to raise internal domestic pressure on the Obama Administration to abandon their unilateral negotiations and involve the rest of our government and our allies in the effort to keep nukes out of the hands of the mullahs – and, absent that, to kill this capitulation baby of a deal in the crib.

I hope it works.

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Boehner Invites Netanyahu & Obama Flips Out

House Speaker John Boehner invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to speak before Congress, which resulted in outrage from the Left. I saw some berserker comments on a Facebook meme-image by the Daily Kos (no link for you, Kossaks!) which were predictably unhinged. Boehner violated the Logan Act! Boehner the traitor! Yes, I know, the FB comments are as brain-damaged as YouTube comments, but still, it was somehow startling and amusing in terms of extremism in stupidity. Boehner is of course neither a traitor nor in violation of the Logan act, but it’s amusing in that Liberals are often accused of possibly violating the Logan Act and they shrug it off (You want a link? Feh. Go amuse yourself by Googling “John Kerry”, or “Barack Obama”, or “Nancy Pelosi”, and “Logan Act”). No, I’m not a lawyer, but if you’ve got a few brain cells to rub together it’s obvious that what Boehner did was not a violation of the Logan Act.

Eugene Robinson doesn’t quite go so far as to make that accusation in his latest column “Boehner’s invitation to Netanyahu backfires on them both“, but he comes oh-so-close. Let’s begin:

“The political ramifications are clear: House Speaker John Boehner and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made a colossal mistake by conspiring behind President Obama’s back, and the move has ricocheted on both of them.”

It’s not at all clear to me what the political ramifications are, but it is clear that the reaction from the White House and Liberals has been swift and hair-on-fire furious. OK, it’s clear in that respect, but otherwise? Pissing off Liberals is not a “ramification”. Nor is it clear that this was a “colossal mistake”. It’s not even clear to me that it was a mistake at all but we’ll see what kind of case Robinson can make for that later. Here, though, in the same sentence, Robinson characterizes this as Boehner “conspiring behind President Obama’s back”, and there in the first sentence of his piece we can see that this column was clearly a colossal mistake.

So, Boehner “conspired” with Netanyahu – it’s a conspiracy – as if this were a crime instead of an invitation to speak before our government and the American people. Israel is an ally of the United States, a liberal (note the small “L”!) republic with more freedoms than all other Middle Eastern countries combined, and as such I have no problem with his speaking here in the Capital on American foreign policy issues which are of vital importance to the survival of his country. Note that this spirit of open dialog does not extend to the enemies of the United States, such as “Supreme Leader” (*giggle-snort*) of Iran, Ali Khamenei, whom I invite, along with every other member of that criminal cabal, to go screw a goat.

“The big, scary issue underlying the contretemps — how to deal with Iran’s nuclear program — is a more complicated story. I believe strongly that Obama’s approach, which requires the patience to give negotiations a chance, is the right one.”

You don’t just believe it, Eugene, you believe it strongly. Of course you do. For Liberals, when dealing with the enemies of America, negotiation is the only path, whether it succeeds or fails. Negotiations, sweetened with incentives, and forgiving of transgressions and insults, is the way they snuggle up to our enemies. There’s a soft spot in their hearts for our enemies because they both share a similar anti-Americanism. Conversely, our allies get undermined and slighted, as with the United Kingdom, Australia, and of course, Israel, because in their minds the allies of the United States share in the imperialistic and capitalist crimes of the United States. Only the far Left says this out loud but it’s a sentiment which runs through all but the most centrist Liberals, and it’s a sentiment which gets translated into policy when Leftists come into power.

“To the extent that a case can be made for a more bellicose approach, Boehner and Netanyahu have undermined it.”

Well, no, they certainly are trying to dissuade us from this course, but it’s far from clear whether it’s working or not. For Liberals, it’s worth pointing out that the very act of “undermining” – well, actually, opposing and advocating for something different – their President is unacceptable, and that’s conditional on it being their President, i.e., of their party, whereas opposing the President when he’s a Republican is all kinds of patriotic speaking of truth to power.

“First, the politics. Why on earth would anyone think it was a good idea to arrange for Netanyahu to speak to a joint session of Congress without telling Obama or anyone in his administration about the invitation?”

Oh, dear, this has to be explained to Eugene. OK, here goes: Boehner violated the protocol of getting the informed consent of the President before inviting a foreign head of state to speak in Congress. This would be an issue if that foreign representative were from a hostile country, but we’re talking about Israel, our ally. The White House took extraordinary umbrage at this protocol violation because they do not consider Israel to be their ally – yes, an ally of the United States, but not the ally of the Liberal Left; again, something they dare not say out loud.

Boehner did this because he knew that the POTUS would try to put the kibosh on it. Israel doesn’t have a seat at the table of these “negotiations” and the Administration would like to keep Netanyahu from speaking to the United States government and people on this matter. Hearing the head of Israel tell us that these negotiations are a very, very bad thing for both Israel ans America is not what they’d like you to hear, and so they would have tried to put a stop to it before it happened, and especially before the offer was made public, the better to kill it quietly, in the crib.

So intent is the Administration to prevent further sanctions being levied on Iran that Secretary of State John Kerry falsely claimed that Mossad chief Tamir Pardo had opposed more sanctions on Iran. I’ll give them this: it takes a lot of chutzpah to tell a whopper like that. Still, with the Administration making up astonishingly flagrant lies like that, you can see how both Boehner and Netanyahu would want to address the American government and people directly.

“Yes, Congress has an important role to play in international affairs.”

In acknowledging this Robinson is also dismissing it; you can almost hear him add, sotto voce, “but not really…”  Not so much now that Congress is controlled by Republicans, that is.  When it’s a Democrat Congress vs. a Republican President, Robinson will be right there to tell you just how very important that role really is.

“And yes, the days are long gone when disputes among officials over foreign policy ended at the water’s edge; members of Congress routinely gallivant around the globe and share their freelance views of what the United States should or should not be doing. But inviting a foreign leader to speak at the Capitol without even informing the president, let alone consulting him, is a bald-faced usurpation for which there is no recent precedent.”

A usurpation! Our king Obama is being usurped! Although the definition of that word relating to the throne may not have been the one Robinson had in mind, it was the word that came to his mind, and the association doesn’t bother him or he doesn’t even hear himself. “Bald-faced” is, literally, “unshaven”, but in American English it is associated with the phrase “bald-faced liar” (and no other) and connotes “flagrant”, which is the word Robinson was looking for but could not find.  Happy to help, Eugene – see above for an example of the proper use of the word “flagrant”.

“Pending legislation, which Obama threatens to veto, would automatically impose tough sanctions against Iran if the drawn-out, multiparty nuclear negotiations fail.”

Now, remember, Robinson just asked the question of why Boehner would invite Netanyahu to speak before the House without checking with POTUS Obama. It’s as if he can’t see the connection between the two, but it’s right there. POTUS Obama’s threat of a veto in the event that negotiations with Iran fail means that the Administration wants for there to be no consequences for the failure of negotiations. For the Administration, and Liberals, the failure of a negotiated deal would necessitate another round of negotiations, as has happened multiple times in the past. This is not an acceptable outcome for Israel or the American Right because this series of failures is a win for Iran as it gives them more time to develop nuclear weapons and to produce weapons-grade fissile material. Sanctions have hurt Iran and slowed down their work, and stronger sanctions can be expected to have a greater effect on the slowdown of their nuclear weapons push. You don’t need to extrapolate here: the Obama Administration is running out the clock which will give Iran time to get the bomb. Again, something they dare not say out loud.

“If Boehner wanted to build support for sanctions, he failed spectacularly. Sen. Robert Menendez of New Jersey, the ranking Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee and a vocal hawk on Iran policy, announced Tuesday that he would not vote for his own bill imposing automatic sanctions — at least not until after a March 24 deadline for negotiators to produce the outlines of an agreement. Nine of his pro-sanctions Democratic colleagues in the Senate joined him, meaning the bill is unlikely to win the necessary 60 votes for passage.”

In other words, Obama turned the screws hard on Democrats who are now falling in line, to the extent that these Democrats are willing to put off the vote on additional sanctions – until after negotiations fail. Not exactly a spectacular failure, but whatevs, Eugene.

“If Boehner’s aim was to paint Obama as somehow soft on Iran, he failed at that, too. The speaker inadvertently turned the focus on himself and has had to spend the week explaining why he went behind the president’s back, not even giving the White House a heads-up until hours before the March 3 speech was announced.”

Boehner doesn’t need to “paint Obama as somehow soft on Iran” (“somehow“!). We have ample evidence that POTUS Obama is soft on Iran. Also note that here Robinson admits that Boehner did give a heads-up to the WH some hours before the announcement; recall that he started out this opinion piece by accusing Boehner of “going behind the back” of POTUS Obama and repeats it in the same sentence, because giving advance notice to the WH vs. going behind the back of the WH is completely the same, apparently.

“Netanyahu, for his part, may have thought this was a way to boost his prospects in the upcoming Israeli election, scheduled for March 17. Or he may have fantasized that somehow, by openly siding with the Republican Party, he could snatch U.S. foreign policy out of Obama’s hands. Judging by the pounding he is taking from the Israeli media, he was mistaken on both counts.”

If you think the Liberal media in Israel is giving Netanyahu a pounding – and, yes it’s the Liberal media in Israel giving Netanyahu a pounding – then consider what the Obama Administration had to say to the Israeli government: Netanyahu “spat in the face” of Obama, and “there will be a price”. Would that they would speak so forcefully to the North Koreans.

“Note to all foreign leaders: We have one president at a time. Americans respected this fact when George W. Bush was president, for better or worse. And we respect it now.”

It’s hard to know what Robinson means by his use of the word “respect” in this context, but no, Liberals did not respect POTUS W, neither in his being POTUS nor his being the only POTUS. They didn’t even believe he was the POTUS; they thought he’d stolen the election from Gore.

“The speech episode borders on farce, but the larger debate over Iran’s nuclear ambitions could not be more serious. The central issue is whether a negotiated deal will leave Iran with the theoretical capability to build a nuclear bomb if it were to decide to do so. No amount of diplomatic legerdemain, it seems to me, can avoid answering this question with a simple yes or no.”

Or, as the Blogfather noted in the comments of a WaPo “Right Turn” blogpost, the Iran nuclear deal will amount to this: “Iran pretends they don’t have a nuclear weapon program. And we pretend to believe them.”

“If you say yes, as Netanyahu does, then Iran must be stripped of all ability to enrich uranium. It is easy to understand why the Israeli government sees a nuclear-capable Iran as an existential threat — and also worries that other regional powers concerned about Iran’s growing influence, such as Saudi Arabia, might decide that they, too, need to get into the nuclear game.”

As the above paragraph clearly demonstrates, Robinson is not oblivious to the issues or stakes, which makes his position on a nuclear-armed Iran and these negotiations all the more despicable.

“Iran insists, however, that it has the right to a peaceful nuclear program. The government in Tehran is unlikely to give up that right but may be willing to limit itself to low-grade enrichment that produces material incapable of being used in a bomb. At least some infrastructure for high-grade enrichment would remain, however — and so would some risk of an eventual Iranian bomb.”

Wink-wink, nudge-nudge, the Iranians will pinky-swear to keep their uranium enrichment low-level, say no more, say no more! And make no mistake: Liberals are A-OK with that.  When the Iranians nuke Israel, directly or through a terrorist proxy, Liberals will wring their hands and lament it as if it were an act of nature, something that just sort-of happened, like a tornado that nobody could have seen coming, and in their next breath they’ll condemn Israel for bringing it on themselves.

Stephen Hawking Weighs In on Syria: “Stop It, You Guys!”

Stephen Hawking wrote a remarkably lame opinion piece for the WaPo (“Syria’s war must end” – WaPo – 2014-02-14) in which he demonstrates that his phenomenal understanding of physics has come at the expense of his understanding of the real world. In it he chides the world and is shamefaced for us all at the horrific atrocities in Syria. It’s basically a “think of the children!” piece, but I wanted to address a few of the things he has to say.

“[…] humans still have the instincts, and in particular the aggressive impulses, that we had in caveman days. Aggression has had definite advantages for survival, but when modern technology meets ancient aggression the entire human race and much of the rest of life on Earth is at risk.”

This should really tell us all we need to know about the distinguished professor’s grasp of world events.  This war started as an uprising against the dictatorial oppression of “president” Bashar al-Assad and has morphed into a war between his forces and those that would replace him.  There are Islamic jihadists aplenty on both sides, with Iran supplying the government with fighters and the opposition consisting of jihadists of varying degrees of fervor, the most extreme of which are allied with Al Qaeda.  They are not fighting because they have “aggressive impulses”; they are fighting for their power, their god, and their survival.

“What’s happening in Syria is an abomination, one that the world is watching coldly from a distance. Where is our emotional intelligence, our sense of collective justice? […] The international community has watched from the sidelines for three years as this conflict rages […]”

The “international community” (whatever that means) has been – no, wait, I can’t accept that term.  There is no “international community”, and if there were, Hawking is not referring to the small and powerless states which are members thereof.  Regional and world players have been engaged in this war for years.  The United Nations (i.e., the EU) has been holding talks but they fell apart because Bashir won’t step down and the rebels won’t give up.  As mentioned, Iran is supplying Bashar not just with Revolutionary Guard fighters but war materiel as well.  Lebanese Hizbollah fighters are in Syria fighting for Bashar.    Russia has provided diplomatic interference on Bashar’s behalf as well as providing various intelligence products and massive amounts of weapons and weapons platforms.  The United States has provided some millions of dollars for the rebels (and a bunch of empty threats against Bashar).  Saudi Arabia reportedly will be providing anti-aircraft and anti-tank missiles.  You’d have to be blind ignorant to think that the world is watching from the sidelines – well, China is sitting this one out, but China doesn’t give a flying F about the rest of the world unless it involves their geopolitical or business interests.

The conflict ends when a negotiated peace is reached or one side wins, and Hawking provides no guidance here.

A World of Difference in Red Lines

Today on “Instapundit“, the blogfather posted that the Syrian “red line” on chemical weapons was set by Secretary of State Clinton on August 11, 2012 at a joint press conference in Turkey.

Well, no, not so much.  POTUS Obama was quite specific when he said the “red line” was ours, and would affect his “calculus” and our response.  What’s the difference?  Nobody took SecState Clinton’s red line seriously because she, as the U.S. SecState, was referring to the “red line” the world had set.  It’s not a meaningful statement because, simply put, “the world” in general terms doesn’t have the military means to make good on a threat;, only a nation or coalition of nations can do that, and there wasn’t a coalition either of armed nations or trading partners ready to force project and/or enforce sanctions.

The U.N. can stamp its little feet in anger or pen as many sternly-worded memos as it likes, but that won’t change the fact that it has no armed forces of it’s own; the ability to project military power is reliant entirely on the coalitions that are cobbled together by nations amongst themselves or individual nations acting alone.  Sanctions need to be agreed-to and abided-by, and enforced by coalitions, regardless of whatever binding resolutions the U.N. may pass.  So, talk of the world’s “red line” on an issue may raise an eyebrow, but always the follow-on question is “who will enforce it” – and if there’s no answer to that, then the red line is moot.  Remember back when W was POTUS, time and time again the U.N. set red lines and sent stern memos with hard deadlines to Iran about their nuclear program.  Iran blew them off, all of them, without consequence, because they were unaccompanied by a credible threat of enforcement.

When a nation sets a red line, one that specifically will be enforced by that nation – and that nation has the means to do so – then the red line has meaning.  Consequently, follow-through is necessary if red lines in diplomacy are to have any effectiveness as a warning.  What being said is, “don’t do this, or we’ll have to take drastic measures, and we don’t want that, and you especially don’t want that, so don’t do it”.  The corruption and blustering posturing of the U.N. has, over the course of decades, fully eroded its realpolitik credibility.  When we issue a red line and then let it slide, transgressor nations will consider that in the future regardless of which party holds the levers of government – this is one of the problems with how POTUS Obama handled the Syrian problem.  He put himself and our country in a box, and if he doesn’t deliver then our red lines may be perceived as having as little relevance as those of the U.N.  Because we have national interests which need defending, and a military with which to defend them, the blurring of our red lines makes armed conflict more likely.  [Granted, striking Syria at this point would of course mean that armed conflict is a certainty, but when I say that not enforcing the red line makes armed conflict more likely, I’m saying that Syria and other countries will take all of our red lines less seriously now and in the future, even the ones we mean to enforce, because they won’t be able to discern the difference between which ones are bluffs and which ones are real.]

With China and Russia (security council members, both) stating their opposition to punishing Syria for their use of chemical weapons, it’s obvious that, in fact, the “red line” on chemical weapons was more aspirational than actual, and it’s clear that it can now safely be ignored.  POTUS Obama was naive to think that it had real meaning in the real world without the enforcement mechanism – which it was up to him to have put in place before issuing the red line – but let’s put the blame for the chemical weapons atrocities which will surely follow squarely on the shoulders of China and Russia as well as the perpetrators.  We’ll have to do it ourselves, though, because liberal-leftists are loathe to cast aspersions, however justified, on leftist tyrannical governments; just look at how long they’ve carried water for Cuba.

Who’s Red Line Is It Anyway?

Today POTUS Obama declared that it wasn’t really his red line in Syria, but the world’s red line, so, you see, it wasn’t his credibility on the line, it was the credibility of the world, and the U.S. Congress.  That’s just – what’s the word I’m looking for?  that’s just adorable.

He’s right, you know.  Chemical weapons use is a war crime, and that’s an international no-no, and in theory you can get in real trouble for breaking the rules, mister.  Here in the real world there is no red line, per se, only the words, which mean nothing until they do.  You need to really sincerely piss off the movers and shakers, and also make yourself useless to any of them, before you’ll get hauled into a prison hotel and face an interminable trial.  Call that “the Milošević Option”.  So he’s right, after a fashion – the credibility of the nations and peoples is being put to the test; it’s just that you’d have to have been a fool to think there was any credibility there to begin with.

International Law, and international “norms” for that matter, don’t matter.  Not that they shouldn’t, it’s just that they don’t, unless there’s a strategic advantage in pressing the point.  That advantage may be offensive or defensive, but it’s the self-interested principle of the thing that counts, nothing more.  The U.N. yawns and snores when it’s not huffing and puffing, but in general it accomplishes nothing in geopolitics.  To understand the role of the U.N. in the minds of American liberals you have to understand that they see it as the prototype for a unifying planetary government, Star Trek style.  You know, like when Federation bureaucrats talk about what the Tellarites say about such-and-such political matter, as if this entirety of the race speaks with one singular voice, and it’s the more primitive Federation wannabes who have any political diversity which is, of course, divisive in practice.  But I digress.

Red lines are established when they are specifically declared to exist. POTUS Obama did just that, without consulting the Joint Chiefs of Staff, his cabinet, either branch of Congress, or our allies, and that’s how an American POTUS builds a coalition of support to carry out a military action, and he had a year to prepare. It looks to me as if he has been caught flat-footed, relying on the power of his word to keep Syria from using chemical weapons, and by setting that as the trigger he also hoped to avoid getting involved in the conflict entirely by setting such a high threshold.

Note that tens of thousands have been killed in this war and he’s avoided blame for it – you know, allowing it to happen.  For the Liberal Left, it’s always America’s fault: we did the wrong thing, we did it too late, we did too little, we didn’t do anything, one way or another we’re to blame.  Domestically, and it seems internationally, he’s gotten a pass on this. What I think he failed to realize is that it would be obvious to outside intelligence agencies that the U.S. was not preparing for a conflict.  No coalition building was going on inside or outside the United States, and that doesn’t go un-noticed by Russia, Iran, or China, and they’re more than likely to pass that information along to Syria.  I’m guessing that this is another example of how preparing for war is the best way to avoid it.

Still, POTUS Obama is taking the position that it’s up to everyone else in the U.N. to live up to their rhetoric about chemical weapons being off limits and their use incurring severe repercussions.  That’s – adorable?  No, strike that, the word I’ve been looking for is pathetic.

The New Yorker, thy name is Yankee Doodle

[by Mr.Hengist]

Think Progress has an EXCLUSIVE! Seymour Hersh wrote an article in The New Yorker in which he claims that VPOTUS Cheney considered a proposal to… No, wait, I won’t spoil it, just read go read it after you’ve put down your beer. And, yes, this is so an EXCLUSIVE for Think Progress – they hit the web with it before The Nation, The Progressive, and Utne Reader could read the article for themselves and go squirrely. At any rate, it’s The New Yorker which put a feather in it’s cap (and called it Macaroni).

Doesn’t it almost give you a wistful longing for the Cold War?