I watched a bit of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee hearings on Syria yesterday. Nice to see John McCain and John Kerry so chummy. The poker playing was a bit silly but, with his service, I think McCain can be forgiven a lot.
Much useful chat about objective and collateral damage. But, realistically, the Senators and the Secretaries seemed to be going through the motions. The Big Zero wants his Operation Moral Grandeur and the political establishment seems willing to give it to him.
The only problem seems to be that the American people are pretty universally against the Syrian adventure. Mainstream polls are running 60/40 against. (Drudge is 92/8.)
More importantly, while the Big Zero bobs and weaves as to “objectives” and consequences, there is no serious upwelling of support for bashing Assad. In the run up to the Iraq war, while there was a debate, there were two sides to that debate with proponents – of which I was one – strongly supporting the removal of Hussein.
While the Washington political establishment wheels out the genuinely horrific facts of Assad’s gas use, a large number of Americans are saying, “And this is our problem because?”
The idea of a limited strike – lead by the Big Zero – is unappealing because it will almost certainly do more harm than good. And, listening to the hearings, it was pretty clear that neither the Secretary of State nor the Secretary of Defence could provide much in the way of reassurance.
In fact, they seemed to have trouble coming up with any serious reason why hitting Assad was a good thing other than the idea that somehow it was America’s business to “punish” people who broke international law. (It might well be but only where American interests are directly engaged. A fact not lost on the American public.)
The Senate can be fixed, the House of Representatives is a more responsive lot. When you have to be elected every two years you do not ignore your voters. If the Congressmen are listening they are realizing that there is no groundswell of support, no demand for action. And they will realize that if they go along with the Establishment they are going to be held accountable if Obama’s bully little war goes pear shaped.
There may be a way to punish Assad but I suspect the first casualty will be an out of touch American political Establishment.