In These New Times

A new paradigm for a post-imperial world

Obama, the mad president?

Posted by seumasach on August 31, 2013

Cailean Bochanan

31st August, 2013

One cannot but be struck by the similarity of the the trajectory of William Hague these past days to that of another illustrious Yorkshireman, that Grand Old Duke renowned in rhyme. Although it must be said Hague disposes of nothing like ten thousand men. But he did send in a few strike aircraft to launch some missiles in solidarity with his Jihadi irregulars on the ground in Syria, but only to realize that he would have to bring them all back again after the sensational defeat of the government in Thursday historic vote.

Thus at one fell swoop the Brits were removed from the equation and by any normal criteria the threatened attack on Syria was then off. However, rumours are everywhere that Obama is to go ahead with military strikes this weekend although he has said no such thing. It must be stressed that at no point has Obama actually said that he is committed to military action. Cameron jumped to the conclusion that he was and his credibility lies in ruins. Obama is remaining discreetly behind the scenes and when, if this agenda goes off the rails it will be other heads that fall. Heads in the State Department , for example.Anything is possible in this world and the moment Obama appears on TV announcing missile strikes we will have to believe it even though such a response is totally devoid of logic.

It would certainly be in defiance of all international law. It would be a war crime but apparently a motiveless one. Who would gain? Only those who seek to renew permanent war, global war: those for whom peace represents a clear and present danger. I can think of quite a few who could be in that category but they would not be impressed by a few missile strike unless they were the match that lights a general conflagration. Missile strikes as a symbolic gesture wouldn’t satisfy anyone.

So is Obama planning a sort of rolling war which culminates in WW3? That would not succeed. To fight such a war you must prepare the ground first. You must know that the military are onside. You must have a least a partial base of popular support.  You must have some serious allies. You must have some credible legal or moral justification You must have the means to defeat your major adversaries.You must have the economic means to sustain huge additional costs. Obama has none of those things. If he tries to escalate a war he will be blamed and will be removed from power at some point. Haven’t we just seen that this crisis has turned into an opportunity for military men of every hue, on both sides of the Atlantic, to denounce the madness that it would be to attack Syria?

The alleged plan to bomb Syria for a couple of days to punish it for a crime that hardly anyone believes it committed lacks all logic as far as I can see. I’ll still be down at the square demonstrating against it because the world can be a hell of a crazy place and this is an important moment for people to show their opposition to war. But demos won’t stop Obama if all he wants is to plunge the world into chaos and to destroy his presidency. We shall know soon enough if this Hamlet, Obama, is mad or only pretending to be mad.

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