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Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Obama's Address to the Nation about Syria

A transcript of the President's remarks is here.

Well, here are your Head Trucker's thoughts, just for the record:  the first two minutes were fine, with the President reviewing the use of poison gas since World War I and saying that the nations of the world have worked for a century to outlaw this terrible weapon of war.  Lofty ideas, noble thoughts.  All well and good.

ut from there, he seemed to tumble down one slippery slope after another, sliding on generalizations and doubletalk, vague claims and promises, and outright contradictions.  To wit, for example: "I've had letters from a number of citizens saying the United States shouldn't be the world's policeman, and I agree."  But then a few minutes later:  "For seventy years, the United States has enforced the rules of international law, and the world is a better place for that."  Um, so what exactly is the difference between a policeman and an enforcer, I wonder?  And also, what about all the debacles and destruction so carefully ignored by that far-reaching claim?  Cuba, Vietnam, Iraq, Libya, and others we could name?

Another example:  "We are not going to try to remove a dictator, we already learned from Iraq that that's no good because then we are responsible for all that comes afterwards.  I am not going to put American boots on the ground.  We're just going to degrade Assad's ability to use chemical weapons."  But then:  "In response to some comments in Congress, this attack will not be a pinprick strike.  The United States military does not do pinpricks."  So WTF?  How big and how bad will it be, exactly?  What the hell will happen when the order to hit Syria goes out?  Why all this vagueness and obfuscation?

Another:  "Syria has no ability to attack our military.  And any other attacks that might happen, well we deal with those threats every day, anyway.  And our BFF Israel [which your Head Trucker has been thinking is the elephant in the room that Obama has never mentioned until this speech], well everybody knows they have the power to respond to any attacks with overwhelming force."  In other words, Syria can't possibly do anything to hurt us.  And yet:  "Even though there is no imminent or direct threat to the United States . . . I believe I have the power to order this strike in order to enforce international law and protect our own children from being gassed like those poor Syrian kids."  What the holy fuck???

In other words, boys, as much as I want to support this president - and I do believe his fundamental motive of stopping an outlaw use of chemical weapons is sincere - I am hearing nothing but the same old bureaucratic doubletalk that has been used every fucking time before, when this country has muscled in where it shouldn't have gone.

And on top of all that - What exactly was the point of this speech?  What was his point, what was he asking us citizens, or anyone, to do?  The first three-fourths of the speech sounded like it might have been written last week - not until towards the end did he get around to mentioning that, oh yeah, somebody has a crazy idea for a diplomatic solution here, so I've been chatting with my bud Putin about that - we'll see where it goes, and I've asked Congress to chill on voting for anything until I know more.  Then I'll let 'em know.

And so your point is, Mr. President?  Why have you just been talking at us for 15 minutes, then?  What kind of idée fixe is this, which you just keep repeating and repeating?

Something is just not right here. I am vividly reminded of a brilliant aphorism that I heard Judge Judy say once: If it doesn't make sense, it's not true.

Continued after the jump . . .


And BTW, what the fuck is up with Kerry?  Who should be, after all his fifty years experience in Vietnam, law, government, and foreign affairs, the President's best and brightest spokesman - he started the whole diplomatic wheel rolling yesterday with an off-the-cuff disparaging comment about Syria giving up its chemical weapons - "But of course that won't happen," he quickly said, with heavy-lidded eyes as if he'd not slept in three days.

But today he said, "Yesterday we challenged the Syrians to give up their chemical weapons to international control" - despite the fact that his own State Department had immediately disowned the idea yesterday, saying it was just a "rhetorical point." 

And again today, Kerry while testifying before Congress on the need for an authorization of force, said "Nothing focuses the mind like the prospect of a hanging" - a particularly ill-judged use of what, in another context, would be a useful quote from Samuel Johnson, but here is just mindless.   

No one has forgotten that Saddam Hussein was indeed hanged after we invaded Iraq and deposed him - and yet for the last ten days, Obama and Kerry both have sworn and be damned they have no intentions of knocking Assad off his nickel-plated pedestal.  So the metaphor is particularly inept and inapt - unless of course, they do plan to bury Assad in the rubble of Damascus.  Did Kerry just let the cat out of the bag?

What gives with these guys?  Why does it all seem like the very same dog and pony show that we've seen so many times before, just re-run and re-edited?  And why are they apparently throwing all the monkey wrenches they can into the Syrian-Russian-surrender-the-chemicals deal? 

I don't understand.  Here I thought I was voting for Change - but Obama, like most other presidents of the postwar era, acts like he's got his balls caught in the door jamb, but won't let go of the doorknob, and won't back up for hell.

The more things change, the more they stay the same goddamn thing.  You know what I mean, fellas?

BTW - For another, better point-by-point analysis - which, curiously, seems to pretty much agree with your Head Trucker's take on the speech - see Rod Dreher's piece at the American Conservative.

P.S., 4 a.m., 9/11 - Two late-night thoughts before hitting the hay:

1. It came to me after writing the above and listening to some news reports from within Syria that the reason Obama & Kerry are not-so-subtly trying to 86 the Syrian-Russian peace deal is that it fucks with the secret plan they had in place to overthrow Assad and install a "moderate" rebel regime, backed with plenty of greenbacks and a small army of American "advisors."

I have no proof whatsoever, it's just my intuition based on the memory of fifty years of presidential prevarication and evasion - can you say Iran-Contra? - but I'll bet you dollars to doughnuts that's what's behind all the doubletalk and weaseling-out. And why nobody at all in the West Wing or the State Department was smart enough to come up with this brilliant idea before Kerry launched into his drunken-uncle routine and started running his mouth.  There was one plan to sell to the public - and then there was the real plan kept tightly under wraps, full of spooks and spies and moles and plants.

It's not about the poor little children or the chemical weapons - it's about The Plan. I'm not a fan of conspiracy theories at all, but the more I think about it, the truer it feels: Occam's razor. Of course, I could be wrong - but this makes sense of all the contradictions in the story we've seen unfold before us. You just watch and see if this key doesn't fit the lock, fellas.

2. Isn't it amazing, after all these years of increasingly polarized politics, that finally here's one issue that cuts right across all party lines? Rather a good thing for democracy and constitutional government, I think. We've been needing a new deck of cards for a long time now.

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