September 16, 2013
Obama's Syria Meanderings Border on Incompetence (Albert R. Hunt, Sep 15, 2013, Bloomberg)
Posted by Orrin Judd at September 16, 2013 3:35 PMOn public diplomacy, Obama is failing. There is no coherent message, little explanation of the complexities and contradictions created by difficult circumstances. By taking on the role of the agonizingly reluctant warrior on Syria, he has reinforced the country's skepticism. He announced he was seeking congressional authorization for a military strike on the Saturday afternoon before Labor Day -- not exactly prime time for attracting the nation's attention.Worse, the president reached this decision to turn to Congress after consulting only with his small core of top advisers, none of whom have faced an election. He should have relied on Secretary of State John Kerry, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Vice President Joe Biden, who between them spent 76 years in Congress.Then, there was the confusing display on Sept. 9. Kerry had dismissively raised the possibility that Syria could relinquish its chemical stockpiles if it wanted to avoid a U.S. military response -- a statement that the secretary's spokesman quickly said was only "rhetorical." White House aides assailed Kerry's clumsiness and National Security Adviser Susan Rice warned that the Russians couldn't be trusted.Only hours later, in interviews with television anchors, the president said he had discussed the proposal with Putin the week before in St. Petersburg and was open to exploring it further.These convolutions didn't build confidence in the president among politicians, the public, U.S. allies or adversaries.
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