Predictably, President Obama’s decision to go to Congress to get approval for a strike on Syria has been transformed into an issue about the president rather than one about American security interests.
As someone who is no fan of Obama, let me say that this was one of his best moments, not that there have been many. I agree that the naïve and amateurish president who has surrounded himself with the likes of Samantha Power, a woman who never saw a human-rights violation that did not demand the squander of American blood and treasure, painted himself into a corner of red lines. Yet, for the moment, at least, he judiciously extricated himself. The weaponization of human rights was postponed.
In less than a week, Obama will be in Russia for the G20 meetings. Imagine if Obama arrived amid scenes of dead civilian casualties caused by a missile that went astray or one that was targeted by faulty intelligence.
The mantra from bopping heads of military professionals about the accuracy of missiles is disingenuous. In 1999, a guided bomb hit the Chinese embassy in Belgrade killing Chinese civilians. The CIA had managed to mangle the coordinates for a Yugoslav military target. In the fog of war, big mistakes happen. In Grdelica, in 1999, NATO destroyed a civilian train as mission creep escalated the air war from military targets to civilian infrastructure with inevitable results. The attacks imposed pain and suffering on the Serbian people, not on its military.