Barack Obama is not stupid and he says he doesn't want his administration to do "stupid things" in foreign policy. So why, then, has he done a reckless, stupid thing by starting a new, two-theater war in the Middle East? And why did that war in Syria have to commence immediately as an existential necessity?
Even though I don't agree, I can at least somewhat understand a rush to war when it comes to Iraq. The corruption and vacuum of leadership in that country opened up a rich shaft for the extremist jihadis of ISIS to mine -- and they are moving inexorably toward Baghdad. But what was the absolute moral hurry to bomb inside Syria?; you mean the operation couldn't have waited a few weeks so there could be a full-scale national debate, both in Congress and in the American polity in general, about the wisdom of such a dangerous move?
We should always be wary of hurry-up wars; someone (usually with $omething to gain) is trying to rush things along before the public remembers the previous such wars and how disastrous those turned out.
This whole Mideast situation is a chaotic mess, which cries out for more rational analysis. So let's try to parse out as much as we can in terms of possible motives for war, along with pointing out the scary ramifications that always attend The Dumb. Here are 10 places to start.
1. MUSCLE BEACH
Ronald Reagan and CheneyBush were celebrated by the Right and some Independents for their "muscular" military policy -- that is, taking the country to war. So Obama for years has been covering his, and Democrats', perceived electoral vulnerability of being seen as "weak" and wishy-washy when it comes to national-security issues.
The speeches Obama has given in the past few weeks, justifying his somewhat amorphous military plans to crush and destroy ISIS could have been delivered word for word by George W. No wonder the Hard Right Republicans are celebrating -- while they lobby for sending foot-soldiers into Iraq and Syria ASAP. And no wonder the liberal left is discombobulated by their formerly anti-war leader's dash toward militarism, especially with regard to bombing inside Syria.
2. NEO-CONS 2.0
The Cheney-ite neo-conservatives have a simple way of viewing the world: To them, the U.S. is the last remaining superpower and thus it should move aggressively to mold the world in its image, even if it takes a few more wars. The problem with such thinking is that such a geopolitical strategy didn't work in the 1990s and it won't work now: so many modern-day wars are asymmetrical and difficult for large, musclebound nations like the U.S. to fight successfully (see Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, etc.)
From the standpoint of these smaller countries, "success" in this context means to bleed the superpower with a thousand cuts over many years. Stalemate becomes victory, since eventually the American citizenry grows weary of military quagmires and withdraws from the battlefield.
Why the rush to war in Syria? I suspect that Obama and his military advisors saw a golden window of opportunity they couldn't resist: a greatly distracted Assad, an enemy in ISIS that almost invited the initial bombing runs and missile attacks by massing men and materiel right out in the open, a violent Sunni/Shia split in Islam, some Arab cheerleaders anxious to rein in extremist jihadis, the president free to act on his own since the U.S. Congress wanted to keep its fingerprints off a new Middle East war (hence, no debate), especially right before the midterm election.
3. A TRUE BELIEVER?
Another possibility: What if Obama's war posture is not an act? Maybe he really believes what he's saying. The progressive Left chose to see Obama as a liberal activist when he actually was much closer to the center-Right and beholden to the prevailing corporate worldview. He certainly was no pacifist. Recall that when the President received his Nobel Peace Prize in 2009, his acceptance speech to the assembled diplomats in Oslo inexplicably was a defense of going to war -- the "just war" argument.
Obama today may truly believe in his own propaganda, that ISIS is the latest manifestation of pure evil and must be eradicated; forget the fact that many of the ISIS fighters originally were recruited, armed and encouraged by the U.S. as tough fighters in the Syrian opposition. Now Obama wants ISIS to be ripped, root and branch, from the face of the earth, despite opposition from potential allies.
Surely, Obama sees that no country is champing at the bit to put its soldiers on the ground in Syria. If other nations want to help at all in the Syrian theater, it will be mostly from the air and will mainly be in service to the U.S. air force and drones. (A somewhat reluctant Turkey seems willing to send combat troops, if it has to.)