President Obama has pretty much spilled all of the beans on his battle plan for punishing Syria for having used poison gas on Syrians.
He said attacks would come from the sky, either from planes or missiles. He said there would be no American boots on the ground.
He said he was going to try to get Congress to go along with the deal, but not until the lawmakers return from their vacations and convene on Sept. 9.
That makes it sound as though the president is buying time.
If I were Bashar Assad, the Syrian despot who apparently ordered the use of the poison gas, I would fire my spies, as they would no longer be needed. “We’ll just stay tuned to Obama’s speeches on the subject,” Asaad might say between chuckles.
Obama is learning that people listen to you when it comes to threats to use the American military machine. You can’t threaten, then change your mind, unless the behavior you wanted to modify through the use of force suddenly is modified.
One thing Obama could do is target Assad directly. President Reagan did that to Moammar Ghaddafy after investigators identified Ghaddafy as the sponsor of the 1986 Berlin discotheque bombing. The attack barely missed Ghaddafy, but did manage to get his attention. Ghaddafy later agreed to compensate victims of Libya-sponsored terror attacks, include victims of the Lockerbie bombing.
If Obama were to order an attack on Assad’s person, it wouldn’t be the first time he has okayed deadly force on a particular individual. Shortly after his first inauguration, he gave the okay for Navy snipers to kill certain high-seas pirates. Then, he okayed the raid that led to the death of Osama bin Laden. Another thing he could do is announce a complete sea and air blockade against Syria. “We will sink any ship or shoot down any plane that attempts to enter or leave Syria,” he could have said. “And the blockade will remain in place until Assad has resigned and gone into exile.”
Doing those things would require the president to keep his mouth shut, though, something he might not be able to accomplish.