September 02, 2013

We'll Get Around to Dealing With This Atrocity Just After the Holiday

Naturally, I was as surprised as the next American citizen by the President's volte-face concerning the attack on Syria.  Since my overall analytical model is that the United States is governed by a military-security junta, for which Mr. Obama is the spokesperson (sort of the way that Ronald Reagan was the spokesman for General Electric), the question then became: what was it the Pentagon brass saw that made it decide to punt the issue over to Congress?

We can leave aside the idea that President Obama takes seriously Article 1, Section 8 of the American Constitution, which assigns the war-declaring power to Congress.  When Leon Panetta served as Secretary of Defense, he actually stated overtly to a Congressional committee that the Obama Administration does not consider the Constitution or the War Powers Act of 1973 an impediment to Presidential action in the face of perceived threats.  Panetta, of course, is not a Constitutional scholar; formerly, he played the role of the pharmacist on the old "Dobie Gillis" series.  Still, I have no doubt that he was speaking for the Administration.  In some way that no one wants to take the time to explain, the express grant of power to declare war to Congress in Article 1 is a kind of superfluity; the Founding Fathers apparently didn't really mean it, or it is inconsistent with the role of the President as Commander in Chief and therefore should be disregarded.

I think the Junta's ultimate aim is a tactical nuclear strike on Iran's nuclear facilities, and these practice wars (Libya, Yemen and almost-Syria), all done without Congressional consultation, are simply to keep the military complex in fighting trim and to establish the precedent that the Junta can conduct any war it wants with or without Congress.

So why did the Junta tell Obama to back down?  I think they were concerned about the quality of the operational intelligence.  There is a great deal of uncertainty about whether it was actually the Assad "regime" that used Sarin, the neurotoxic gas in the suburbs of Damascus.  On the surface of things, it seems like an idiotic thing to do.  Assad is winning the Islamic food-fight known as the Syrian civil war.  Why would he do something so clearly counterproductive?  There were rumors swirling that Saudi Arabia had actually supplied the poison gas to anti-Assad forces (al-Qaeda affiliated rebels, just as Saudi Arabia supplied funding to the 9/11 hijackers, who were almost all Saudis - the House of Saud is sort of the Milo Minderbinder of world insurrection). 

One telling point is that the American position was being carried almost exclusively by noted chowderhead John Kerry, one of the stupider members of the U.S. Congress, a man so mediocre that it was revealed during the Bush-Kerry contest of 2004 that Kerry's military aptitude scores were, in fact, lower than those of George W. Bush.  Kerry played the role of Colin Powell in the run-up to the Iraq invasion - an expendable "cut-out" who is going nowhere politically and so it doesn't matter if he's dead wrong about everything he's saying.

Still, it would not help the Junta's ultimate cause if, after this 36-Hour War, or whatever, it became evident that all of this was premised on a false-flag operation.  We don't need to invade Syria just to establish a precedent that is in essence already made.  Obama bombs and invades at will and never seeks Congressional authorization (unlike his predecessor, who was careful to seek it twice, for Afghanistan and Iraq).  Congress never lifts a finger to protest, and I doubt seriously that they really want anything to do with this Syrian decision.

I don't think this Syrian thing is going to happen, which is just as well.  Helping Al-Qaeda destroy the Shia will have to await some other venue, or some other pretext.  It will be up to the military to decide, and then they'll let their Man in the Oval Office know.

I'm not sure this system of governance is actually so bad, when I think about it, and consider the alternatives. Congress is a kind of lunatic asylum for the otherwise unemployable, a congregation of corrupt, anti-intellectual blowhards.  The weenie-flashers and those paying New Orleans whores to diaper them and powder their bottoms are probably the least destructive, since they've found a passion that doesn't involve national security.  Maybe General Jack Ripper was right.  Maybe politicians just don't have the time, the training or the inclination for strategic thought. An interesting note: within an hour of making his epic decision, President Obama was on the first tee, in his khaki shorts and brown-and-white saddle shoes

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