Back when John Kerry was running for the big chair, he promised Americans and the world all the nuance they could stomach.
So what does nuance look like? It looks like making empty threats and then taking them back because they failed to convey how nuanced your threats were meant to be.
If you were following the soap opera known as “As Obama’s Red Line Turns”, you may remember that on the last episode, Dr. Obama, Constitutional Scholar and Exponent of Super Smart Foreign Policy, threatened Syria that if it crossed a red line and used chemical weapons, then something unspecified would happen.
Something unspecified did happen, now that Syria did indeed possibly might have and could have used chemical weapons against civilians. And the something unspecified, is the undignified spectacle of Obama frantically backpedaling.
Now I don’t think the United States should in any way be involved in the Syrian Civil War, certainly not on the side of the Muslim Brotherhood. But I also think that it’s a really bad idea when the guy in the big chair makes empty threats and then blames those empty threats on an un-nuanced ad lib.
The only thing worse than bluffing is having your bluff exposed because it then means that every time in the future, your threats and warnings will be judged worthless. (Not that any threat coming from Obama was ever worth more than the price of a rotten coffee bean in Columbia.)
“The idea was to put a chill into the Assad regime without actually trapping the president into any predetermined action,” said one senior official, who, like others, discussed the internal debate on the condition of anonymity. But “what the president said in August was unscripted,” another official said. Mr. Obama was thinking of a chemical attack that would cause mass fatalities, not relatively small-scale episodes like those now being investigated, except the “nuance got completely dropped.”
As a result, the president seems to be moving closer to providing lethal assistance to the Syrian rebels, even though he rejected such a policy just months ago. American officials have even discussed with European allies the prospect of airstrikes to take out Syrian air defenses, airplanes and missile delivery systems, if government use of chemical weapons is confirmed.
To believe this, we also have to believe that Obama is such an idiot that in a pivotal statement he ad-libbed a “Red Line” without discussing it with his advisers. But the alternative is to believe that Obama was a punk who shot his mouth off in a show of soft policy and then punked out.
The one thing we can be sure is that there is no third option in which Obama is a smart leader who knew what he was doing and stands behind his words.
There is no room whatsoever for that imaginary narrative here.