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President Obama Has Played His Hand Perfectly When it Comes to Syria

obama-syriaI find it interesting how quickly many Americans rush to judgement when it comes to President Obama.  While I often criticize Republicans for their attitude towards the president, Democrats are often just as quick to throw backlash his way whenever it seems he might be doing something they disagree with.

The moment a situation comes up where liberals don’t fully agree with his stance, they seem to freak out.  Like his budget proposal he made public a few months ago (which included a chained CPI that liberals did not support), and now more recently his comments about his desire to seek Congressional approval for military involvement in Syria.

On my page, Right Off A Cliff, I don’t mince words when it comes to “liberals freaking out” as it relates to the president.  While I haven’t agreed with everything he’s done as president, I have realized that there’s usually a bigger plan behind a lot of his actions.

A perfect example was his most recent budget proposal, which included the often Republican-supported chained CPI (well, Republicans supported it until he included it in his budget proposal).  Then, suddenly Republicans wanted no part of it.  But he did a masterful job at submitting a proposal he knew they wouldn’t support (which included key issues they had been pushing for), they rejected it, and at the end of the day Republicans were the ones left looking like the partisan obstructionists that have no desire to work with President Obama on anything.

Which is something most of us already knew.

But I’ll admit, when he publicly said he desired to seek military action in Syria, I was caught a little off guard.  However, I then started to look at the bigger picture.  Because I remember President Obama is a “big picture” kind of individual.

One specific fact most liberals are well aware of is the current Republican policy of simply opposing anything the president supports.  Except, Republicans are the party that claims to be “tough on terror,” so how would they spin this?  Well, they really couldn’t.  You had some Republicans supporting military action, some opposing it and a whole lot more left in the middle remaining “undecided.”

Heck, many of the Republicans who opposed Obama’s “plan” actually support military involvement in Syria.  They just didn’t support Obama’s plans for Syria.  But of course not.  No matter what the president would have come out and said, they would have either said it was too much, not enough or too late.

But, he played them like fools.

See, I don’t believe President Obama ever wanted to send our military to bomb Syria, but he couldn’t just sit by and do nothing when it comes to a report that chemical weapons were used.  Therefore he couldn’t continue as “business as usual” as if nothing was going on—he had to act.

And he did.  Going into this, he had to know Russia would be adamantly opposed to any kind of U.S. military strike in Syria.  So by openly saying he would push for just that, it forced Russia to finally do something.  Had he not made his intentions public, Russia most likely wouldn’t have offered the deal that’s currently on the table to remove all chemical weapons from Syria and put them under international control.

A deal I think President Obama will accept. Though he can’t just do it right away.  After all, it’s still a negotiation.  He has to try to get as much as possible before saying “we have a deal.”

Because while many liberals, and a lot of Republicans, want to paint Obama as some “war mongering president,” he’s sat in office during the entire “Arab Spring” (which is approaching 3 years now), two Egyptian revolts, the Libyan revolution and over two years of civil war in Syria—and has yet to start any new wars.

“Oh, but look at his use of drones in Pakistan!”  Oh, you mean one of the wars he inherited and promised to properly see out until the end?  Thousands had died before he was elected; he wasn’t going to just let those deaths be for nothing and pull our troops before doing his best to at least accomplish something those wars (specifically Afghanistan) hoped to accomplish.  And considering we’ve greatly weakened al-Qaeda and killed Osama bin Ladin, he seems to have accomplished some of those goals.

So the president has had ample opportunity to get us involved in another war—but he hasn’t.

And even with his comments on Syria, I don’t believe he had any intentions of getting us involved there either.

Because if he did, why didn’t he immediately request Congress come back early from recess and debate this issue?  He never did that.  In fact, he said that he spoke with Senate and House leaders and essentially told them to come back when they were supposed to, there was no immediate action needed.

Which is odd coming from a president that many feel is just itching to go to war.

Because I believe the truth is—he never intended to go to war.

He took the Republican talking point of, “Obama will unconstitutionally bypass Congress and go it alone,” flipped it around on them and made them look like a bunch of fools searching for answers.  Then he sat back, knowing it would be weeks before Congress even tried to address this issue, and seemingly went on a “war campaign” to stress how “serious” he was about bombing Syria.

Which has now prompted Russia to take the lead.  They’ve negotiated an initiative to have Assad surrender his chemical weapons to international control, and join the Chemical Weapons Convention.

Something that three weeks ago wasn’t an option.

And not only that, he has Republicans all across the country on video looking like bumbling fools, contradicting themselves in numerous interviews on their stance on Syria.  Contradictions that were spawned because of the continued Republican policy to oppose anything and everything the president supports.

Because let’s look at facts.  Obama does have the power to use our military, without Congressional approval, for a very limited number of days.  He didn’t need Republican support to stage a short bombing campaign in Syria.  And even had he said he was going to “go it alone,” he still could have pushed the issue how he has, allowing enough time for Russia to come up with a response.

Instead, he decided to turn this around on Republicans.  And by doing so, he’s gotten what I believe he originally wanted — an agreement to remove chemical weapons from Syria — and he’s made many Republicans look like fools trying to scramble to come up with answers to his public request for Congressional approval for any involvement in Syria.

Without a missile fired, bomb dropped or troop deployed, President Obama has managed to embarrass Republicans and get a possible deal to remove chemical weapons from Syria.

Well played, Mr. President.  Well played indeed.

About Allen Clifton

Allen Clifton is from the Dallas-Fort Worth area and has a degree in Political Science. He is a co-founder of Forward Progressives, and author of the popular Right Off A Cliff column. He is also the founder of the Right Off A Cliff facebook page, on which he routinely voices his opinions and stirs the pot for the Progressive movement. Follow Allen on Twitter as well, @Allen_Clifton.

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  • LittleD

    I am loving this conversation. Especially the fact that the same people who were, swallowing whole, all of the Republicans outright lies during election time, are the same people who STILL can not see what is plainly right in front of them. We have been living with this president for almost five years, and you still do not get how he operates. It is astounding to me just how blind, short-sighted, and closed -minded some people are.

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