Easy There, Blob. With Obama, We Faced A Different Syria
Last week’s dramatic strike in Syria leaves many questions unanswered, but one thing we know for sure: the blob is very excited.
The chorus of commentary in the past few days has offered a variety of breathless responses. President Barack Obama’s critics are dancing in the end zone, crowing that President Donald Trump proved to be the man Obama never was. Jittery Republicans are happy to spend a day not talking about White House drama and Russian election intrigue. Obama administration veterans are self-flagellating that Trump just did what they wanted Obama to do. Pundits are (once again) praising Trump for finally being “presidential,” and heralding his national-security team. Middle East hawks are declaring that the sheriff is back in the region. And astute foreign-policy observers are administering last rites for the “Obama Doctrine.”
So cutting through all this overheated chatter, what just happened? Do Trump’s strikes on Bashir al-Assad’s forces indicate a fundamental shift in American strategy toward the Syrian conflict, and a complete repudiation of Obama? I believe the strikes were justified and necessary, but I don’t see much evidence yet that they were meant to be the game-changers many now claim them to be.
Let’s begin with the infamous August 2013 “red line,” a moment I have written extensively about but will forever be litigated. To claim that Trump simply proved to have the cojones to enforce the “red line” while Obama whiffed is a gross caricature that conveniently overlooks some important context.