Archive for September, 2013
Since the current American Foreign Policy regarding Syria has swung back and forth more than a half-naked Miley Cyrus on a wrecking ball, we have taken it upon ourselves to interview some of the principle players involved and attempt to clarify things.
First up, Secretary of State John Kerry:
Q: At first you said that there would be no “boots on the ground” in Syria but then you opened up the possibility of “boots on the ground” if we needed to secure chemical weapons. Which is it?
Secretary Kerry: Both. I was against “boots on the ground” before I was for them.
Q: What about arming the rebels fighting against the Assad regime? Do you favor that?
Secretary Kerry: I was against arming the rebels before I was for it.
Q: Finally, what about getting Congressional approval before the US Military action?
Secretary Kerry: I was against getting Congressional approval before I was for it.
Q: I see. Thank you very much Secretary Kerry.
Now we turn to President Obama.
Q: Mr. President what do you have to say about “boots on the ground” in Syria.
President Obama: Let me make this perfectly clear. There will be no “boots on the ground” in Syria.
Q: But Secretary Kerry said that if we needed to secure WMDs we would go in, and there has been talk of providing arms to the rebels. How can we do this with no “boots on the ground”?
President Obama: Let me make this perfectly clear. The US Military wears boots. The C.I. A. wears shoes. We will have no “boots on the ground” in Syria.
Q: Secretary Kerry has said that any action by the US in Syria would be very limited…yet you said that the “US Military does not do pin pricks.” What about the drone strikes we have been doing around the world – aren’t those small precision strikes?
President Obama: Let me make this perfectly clear. The US Military is not in charge of the drone strikes. The C.I.A. is in charge of the drone strikes at my direction. The US Military does not do pin pricks – when I am looking for pricks, I look to the C.I.A.
Q: Are you sure you want to phrase it that way?
President Obama: Why? I didn’t draw a Red Line or anything again did I?
Q: No, no – never mind. Let’s move on. What do all of these changes signal to regimes like Iran or North Korea? What will they think about the reluctance to bomb or put “boots on the ground”?
President Obama: Iran is not Syria. You can check that on a map. Or even a globe. Or if you have a smart phone: use Google Maps. As for North Korea; let me make sure this is understood; the US Military wears boots, the C.I.A. wears shoes, and Dennis Rodman wears sneakers.
Q: That’s all the time we had with President Obama as he was off to a game of golf with Speaker John Boehner where they were going to talk about how budget negotiations are as painful as nicotine withdrawal.
Our next guest is Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Q: President Putin, after years of being sidelined in the Middle East it seems that Russia is once again flexing diplomatic muscles. Can you tell us what led to this change?
President Putin: There is no change here. I have been flexing my muscles for years. Haven’t you seen the pictures?
Q: What we mean is that you seem to have been very vigorous in your defense of Basher Assad in Syria…
President Putin: That’s not the only place I have been vigorous. I am recently divorced. So ladies, if you are looking for vigorous, text a picture to “Comrade Danger.”
Q: I can’t believe you went there…
President Putin: OK I have to go now, very busy schedule…
Q: Doing what?
President Putin: Have a photo opportunity of me riding shirtless on a unicorn.
Q: A unicorn? Aren’t they imaginary?
President Putin: You don’t believe in unicorns?
Q: Well, no…
President Putin: But you believe that all of the chemical weapons on a civil-war torn Middle Eastern country can be identified, secured, and transported out of the country by the International Community – with no American “boots on the ground”? You Americans crack me up. It is almost as funny as sending Dennis Rodman to North Korea.
Q: Not sure that we “sent” Rodman…
President Putin: Have to go. Have the photo op and then dinner with Eric Snowden. He tells me an NSA story, I tell him an old KGB story – we drink some vodka. Good time all around.
Next we turn to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Q: As a senator you voted to authorize President Bush to use military action in Iraq. Later you opposed it. As Secretary of State you supported military strikes on Libya, yet when our Ambassador in Benghazi was in danger you opposed using the military. Last week, now that you are out of office, you urged Congress vote in favor of supporting military strikes on Syria by the Obama Administration, but now you agree with the President to postpone the vote?
Secretary Clinton: Exactly.
Secretary Clinton: My position as a Senator, as Secretary of State and now as a Candid – oops! I mean as a private citizen – has been consistent.
Q: How so?
Secretary Clinton: I have always been in support of authorizing the President to use military force, until I am no longer in support. Well, gotta run – like the subtle hint there?
Q: Where are you going?
Secretary Clinton: To a photo op of me riding on a lion. That Putin is a genius – even Bill said he never thought of the “riding on a wild animal” thing. It’s almost as brilliant as sending Dennis Rodman to North Korea.
Q: You mean… we did send Rodman to North Korea…? Why?
Secretary Clinton: What difference does it make! See ya – in 2016.
Finally, to try to put some perspective on all of this – we ask former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to comment.
Q: What do we know about the Syria situation?
Secretary Rumsfeld: You and I don’t know what President Obama knows. And we don’t know what President Putin knows. And we don’t know what Obama knows about what Putin knows. It looks like President Hollande of France knows something – but what it is, we don’t know.
Q: Is there any way out of this mess?
Secretary Rumsfeld: That’s what they used to ask me about Iraq – so I’ll say the same thing:
I don’t know.
The NFL season is about to begin again – and my beloved New York Giants are getting ready for their season opener against the Dallas Cowboys. Bare with me, but it relates to our Syria situation.
Last year my Giants went from being surprise Superbowl champs, to not making the playoffs. A big factor was that the punishing Defense was nowhere near as good against the opposing team’s ground game and not as dominating in the pass rush. Part of that was that Jean-Pierre Paul (JPP), the stand out Defensive Lineman, was playing with a hurt back. He had off-season surgery and hopefully will be back to form.
But the Pre-Season has been a little menacing. While the Giants have scored, it has mostly been on Big Plays – a long pass and run by Wide Receiver Victor Cruz, or a breakaway run by Halfback David Wilson. But when in the Red Zone (or as their Head coach Tom Coughlin likes to refer to it: the Green Zone) they have floundered. This is concerning.
In a similar way, over the past decade, American foreign policy has been effective with the Big Play; Regime Change in Iraq and Afghanistan. But once we get into the Green Zone, changing hearts and minds, we don’t do so well. Like the Giants, we have had limited success stopping our opponents ground game.
So just as I am concerned with the upcoming Giants season, since I am not sure the weaknesses have been corrected, I am also concerned with the upcoming season in American Foreign Policy.
Since the political pundit class is gearing up for a Hillary Clinton Presidential run, it has almost become the media consensus to praise her time as Secretary of State. While it maybe true that there were no major gaffes or debacles on her watch at State (I count Benghazi as more of a failure of the Intelligence Community than State), there were no major accomplishments or victories.
In fact, the events of the past week, where the US has been increasingly isolated on taking action against Syria shows that our diplomatic ties and credibility are not that strong. The two Bush President’s, snidley derided as “Go I Alone Cowboys” overseas and here at home, were able to put together larger coalitions than the Obama/Clinton/Kerry team. We were supposed to not be so hated around the world by now. Then why can’t we get other countries to follow our lead? Maybe we aren’t as hated, but we aren’t as respected either.
The US military has given us effective control of the skies since the First Persian Gulf War in 1991. Special teams, (Drone strikes,Stuxnet Virus, etc) have been effective but have created backlash as well.
But we still don’t seem to have a consistent ground game, or the ability to stop the opponent’s ground game. That’s why the plans to “punish” the Assad regime for chemical weapons with some cruise missile strikes seems like another attempt at the Big Play. But what then? If Assad survives and then launches another chemical attack, then what? And is Middle Eastern Dictators have taught us anything, it is their willingness to hide military targets among the civilian population, making “clean” military strikes almost impossible.
Seems to me that before we launch another Big Play strategy, we better get our ground game figured out.