AJOC EDITORIAL: 'Smart power' wants another 'dumb war'

Testifying to Congress against the Vietnam War in 1971, John F. Kerry uttered what would become his most famous quote: “How do you ask a man to be the last to die for a mistake?”

Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky resurrected that statement as once-senator and current-Secretary of State Kerry went to Congress to seek authorization for military strikes on Syria.

“How do you ask a man to be the first to die for a mistake?” Paul said.

As of press time Sept. 4, Congress had not yet taken up a vote on a resolution to authorize the use of force against Syria, and there are a lot of quotes from the politicos of the anti-war left coming back to bite them now as they promote yet another intervention into internal Middle East and North Africa conflicts by a Democrat president.

After screeching for years about the “cowboy” “unilateralist” President George W. Bush fighting his “illegal” wars for oil and Haliburton, President Barack Obama, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Vice President Joe Biden, Kerry, et al, are now hankering for Obama to drop bombs on at least the sixth country of the Nobel Peace Prize winner’s term. (That’s Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and Libya so far if you’ve lost track.)

Remember this one, from Obama back in 2002?

“What I am opposed to is a dumb war. What I am opposed to is a rash war. What I am opposed to is the cynical attempt by (officials) to shove their own ideological agendas down our throats, irrespective of the costs in lives lost and in hardships borne.”

How about this, from Hillary Clinton’s confirmation hearing in 2009?

“As we focus on Iraq, Pakistan, and Afghanistan, we must also actively pursue a strategy of smart power in the Middle East that addresses the security needs of Israel and the legitimate political and economic aspirations of the Palestinians; that effectively challenges Iran to end its nuclear weapons program and its sponsorship of terror; and persuade both Iran and Syria to abandon their dangerous behavior and become constructive regional actors; and that also strengthens our relationship with Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, other Arab states, along with Turkey and our partners in the Gulf, to involve them in securing a lasting peace in the region.”

Yeeaaah … how’s all that going? Also recall that Clinton called Syrian President Bashar al-Assad “a reformer” in 2011, and that then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi undertook her own personal diplomacy to meet with Assad because Bush was just a big ol’ meanie. What geniuses.

Sen. Paul’s question for Kerry cannot be asked about Libyan Ambassador Chris Stevens, State Department information officer Sean Smith, or former Navy SEALs Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods.

They are already dead, and they are dead because of failures at the highest levels of the Obama Administration to protect them after this president launched a war without Congressional permission in Libya to drive Muammar Qaddafi from power.

And now, nearly a year to the day after Stevens, Smith, Doherty and Woods perished alone and without aid from their country on the 11th anniversary of Sept. 11, we are still without any answers about what was really going on in Benghazi and why dozens of CIA operatives and unprotected diplomats such as Stevens and Smith were on the ground in that hellhole in the first place.

The country is also now in (more) chaos, and who knows where all those weapons have gone. But sure, let’s run that play again in Syria, this time with entrenched al-Qaeda operating and tons of chemical weapons.

These people talk about learning the lessons from Iraq, but they can’t even learn the lessons of Libya.

Clinton brazenly defied questions about Benghazi before Congress in January, shrieking in her best nails-on-chalkboard voice, “What difference, at this point, does it make?”

Oh, it makes a lot of difference, Ms. Clinton. The administration that has stonewalled and outright lied and bypassed Congress at its whim is now seeking a last gasp at some kind of authority to drop bombs on Assad, apparently because British and French oil interests in North Africa aren’t going to give him the political cover he needs this time.

However, Obama has already stated he has the authority to conduct strikes on Syria with or without Congressional approval. So the question about what difference it makes boils down to whether Obama will simultaneously spark both a wider regional conflict and a constitutional crisis at home if Congress rejects a strike on Syria and he attacks anyway.

If this is smart power, it’s the best evidence yet of grade inflation at Ivy League schools.

Andrew Jensen can be reached at [email protected].

Updated: 
09/05/2013 - 6:45am

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