This week's syndicated column:
I would like to pause for a moment as the United States weighs going to war to make the world safe for President Obama’s “credibility” to note that the Department of Defense announced the deaths of four American soldiers in separate incidents last week in Afghanistan. The Desert Sun in Palm Springs, Calif., reported:
“Staff Sgt. Joshua Bowden, 28, of Villa Rica, Ga., was on a dismounted patrol Saturday, Aug. 31, in Ghazni, Afghanistan, when his unit was attacked by small arms fire. Bowden was stationed at Fort Carson in Colorado and assigned to the 242nd Ordnance Battalion (EOD), 71st Ordnance Group (EOD).
“Sgt. 1st Class Ricardo D. Young, 34, died Wednesday, Aug. 28, from small arms fire in Farah Province, Afghanistan. The Rosston, Ark., native was assigned to the 307th Engineer Battalion (Combat/Airborne), 20th Engineer Brigade, XVIII Airborne Corps at Fort Bragg, N.C.
“Staff Sgt. Michael H. Ollis, 24, also died Wednesday, Aug. 28, in Ghazni Province, Afghanistan, from an insurgent attack on his unit that included small arms fire, indirect fire, and an improvised explosive device (IED). Hollis was stationed at Fort Drum in New York and assigned to 2nd Battalion, 22nd Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light).
“Fort Hood officer 1st Lt. Jason Togi, 24, was killed by an improvised explosive device on Monday, Aug. 26, in Hasan Karez, Afghanistan. The Pago Pago, American Samoa native was assigned to 2nd Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division at Fort Hood in Texas.”
Georgia, Arkansas, New York and American Samoa. Ghazni, Farah Province and Hasan Karez.
We might ponder what American interest served in such places where these soldiers died. Nobody in Washington will do so. Instead, it is left to readers of this column to wonder what the fallen men’s comrades, their families, their friends and the honor guards who made the trip to Dover, Del., to receive these four flag-draped caskets made of these ultimate sacrifices.
Maybe Washington’s silence is a tacit form of acceptance, a shared belief that these continuing deaths shore up President Obama’s “credibility” – the Beltway cause of the moment – as if that is America’s “credibility,” too. Further, that an empty concept of “credibility” alone is an American interest worth dying for.
As war on Syria is weighed, it is perverse to imagine that Americans must now die to legitimize presidential posturing in the White House pressroom. I refer, of course, to the president’s comments on Aug. 20, 2012, when he told the White House press corps regarding Syria that “a red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized. That would change my calculus. That would change my equation.”
Going to war without an American interest at stake to uphold such a statement is a downright monarchical concept – “L’Etat, c’est moi,” (“I am the state”), as King Louis XIV is supposed to have said. Worse, it sounds like a news flash from a country ruled by a Dear Leader, whose very word is law.
Presidential remarks do not constitute a declaration of war. Nor should ill-considered presidential remarks send a nation to war. Obama’s credibility may be at stake, but that’s by no means an American interest, and therefore not a cause to ask Americans to die for.
Meanwhile, Obama’s calculations have changed again. This week in Sweden, the president said, “I didn’t set a red line. The world set a red line.”
Could Obama possibly have forgotten what he said a year ago? Of course not. It may be more polite to describe such talk as “walking away from his earlier comments,” but I think it’s more accurate to say the president told a whopper – a lie. So much for Obama’s “credibility” right there. He went on: “The international community’s credibility is on the line. And America and Congress’ credibility is on the line because we give lip service to the notion that these international norms are important.”
Presidential flailing isn’t a casus belli, either.
The dictionary defines “credibility” as “the quality of being trusted and believed.” In fact, President Obama has no danger of losing his foreign policy credibility over Syria because he already lost it in the ruins of Benghazi. He promised America to hunt down the al-Qaida-linked forces that took out the U.S. compound. It is almost the first anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2012, attack that killed four Americans in Benghazi, including U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens. To date, the only person to be punished is the man who made the Muhammad video posted on YouTube, which the Obama administration, in classic “dhimmi” mode, blamed for the attack. Nightmarishly, President Obama is now contemplating sending Americans to war again to aid more al-Qaida-linked forces in Syria – allies of the very groups that killed Christopher Stevens, Sean Smith, Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty nearly a year ago.
This is madness. This doesn’t serve American interests; it harms them. It is also another place setting in America’s Mad Hatter foreign policy. From Iraq, to Afghanistan, to Libya, to Egypt, and now to Syria, America plops down, digs in and moves on, breaking lives and leaving nothing but a mess behind. The farther down the Mad Hatter’s table we go, the less connection there is to American interests.
Something to talk to your elected representative about as the caskets come home and we approach another grim anniversary.