Syria war: the plot thickens

Azaz, Syria, after rebels took it over after a bloody fight. Is Obama still messing in the Syria war? And does the Second Horseman of the Apocalypse mean only scenes like these, or any form of violence?
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Last night Barack Obama faced the country to talk about the Syria war. He talked in circles for twenty minutes. Finally he said he does not want Congress to vote right away on authorizing him to use military force. That should mean he’s called off the Syria war. But new evidence suggests he’s determined to go in anyway.

Syria war: diplomatic maneuvers

On Monday morning, as everyone knows, Secretary of State John Kerry said something off-the-cuff at a joint press conference with his British counterpart. He said if Assad wanted not to be at war with the United States, he could turn over all his chemical weapons stocks. “But of course he would never do that,” said Kerry.

Then the Russians said, in effect, “Oh, really? Let’s test that.”

Azaz, Syria, after rebels took it over after a bloody fight. Is Obama still messing in the Syria war?

Two destroyed tanks in front of a mosque in Azaz, Syria. From March 6 to July 23, a battle between the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and the Syrian government was fought for control over the city of Azaz, north of Aleppo, during the Syrian civil war. The FSA won the 2012 Battle of Azaz, saying the destroyed 17 government tanks. (The photographer counted 7.) Photo: Christiaan Triebert, CC BY 2.0 Generic License

The State Department tried to say John Kerry was just being rhetorical. (Read: sarcastic.) No matter. The Russians knew what everyone knows: Bashar al-Assad might gladly turn over those weapons stocks if he thought he could drive a hard-enough bargain. All he seems to ask for is a guarantee that no one will use force against him, if he does not use force against them.

Before the day ended, Obama tried to take credit for the Russian “breakthrough” on the Syria war. He even suggested he and Vladimir Putin had talked about a plan like that last week. Of course, if anyone really believes that, Putin could no doubt sell that person a bridge in Moscow.

The maneuvers went on the next day. At one point, Putin asked the UN Security Council to discuss “his” plan to forestall the Syria war. Forty-five minutes before the Security Council was to meet, they called the meeting off. Putin withdrew his request, said the reports. But that did not mean the deal was off. Kerry will meet Putin’s foreign minister in Brazil tomorrow. Obama and Putin will keep talking one-on-one.

Or so Obama said last night. As he asked Congress to “postpone the vote.” He knows the you-don’t-have-to-draw-it-on-Karl-Rove’s-whiteboard obvious thing. If that vote happens in the Senate today, it will fail even of cloture to begin debate. Senator Rand Paul, R-Ky., said it best: Obama did not convince. And worse:

Twelve years after we were attacked by al-Qaida, 12 years after 3,000 Americans were killed by al-Qaida, President Obama now asks us to be allies with al-Qaida.

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Likewise, if it happens in the House, they will vote “No!” For the first time, Congress will refuse to “declare war” or “authorize the use of military force” after a (de facto) President asked them to. Obama will not risk that.

But Obama said something else he keeps saying all the time. He claims authority to act, with or without Congress.

Syria war: deployment orders?

This morning, Dan Bubalo, writing at Mychal Massie’s site, electrified that site’s readers. He started with a story of a soldier at Fort Hood, who had orders to deploy to Egypt, one of 400 soldiers deploying to a theater where we have no military base. But at that, the soldier said, he felt happier about his assignment than must other soldiers still at Fort Hood. Why? Because they have orders to go to Syria.

Say WHAT?!? After Barack Obama said from the East Room of the White House he wouldn’t even ask Congress to vote on military force in Syria? After he said,

I will not put boots on the ground in Syria.

And said it not only all last week, but again last night? And we now learn that soldiers at Fort Hood are waiting to ship out to Syria?

Bubalo connects the Syria war to another disgraceful episode that happened a year ago: the Benghazi Incident. The Ambassador to Libya was in Benghazi when, as the government told everyone, protests broke out over a fifteen-minute video clip. He and three other Americans died that day (and horribly, too). What were they doing there? Bubalo said the same thing others have said ever since: Ambassador Stevens was running guns to a rebel group in Syria. In other words, the United States government threw itself into the Syria war more than a year ago. And some group that felt the Americans shut them out, killed our ambassador on the strength of that.

So what’s happening now? Why might soldiers already have orders to go to Syria? Maybe to keep firming up ties with whatever rebel group they ran guns to last year.

This is of a piece with other things that must have started well before the August 21 gas attack. Ships take time to sail such a large body of water as the Mediterranean. How then could Obama get four cruise missile destroyers off the Syrian coast as fast as he did after that incident? Because he knew something would break ahead of time, or hoped he’d have some excuse. Putting boots on the ground takes time, too. We now have Obama getting ready to put boots on the ground in the Syria war while he told the American people he would never do any such thing.

Ironically, George Stephanopoulos, on ABC’s This Week, wondered whether Obama worried Congress would try to impeach him over the Syria war. If those boots land on Syrian ground, he might have reason to worry. He has no standing to get into the Syria war. Now, if this latest report is accurate, he is getting ready to go to war and lying about it.

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Terry A. Hurlbut has been a student of politics, philosophy, and science for more than 35 years. He is a graduate of Yale College and has served as a physician-level laboratory administrator in a 250-bed community hospital. He also is a serious student of the Bible, is conversant in its two primary original languages, and has followed the creation-science movement closely since 1993.

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