Ego’s Red Line Jeopardizes Operation Caliphate

toon130323What transpired between the hours of John Kerry’s address to the American people and Saturday’s Rose Garden presser that made President Obama reverse course in Syria?

For two years President Obama has been reticent to involve himself in the aftermath of Middle Eastern/North African revolution and the humanitarian carnage that followed.  Outside of recent strong condemnations of rebel atrocities the White House has refused to intervene in ‘the hopes of the Arab Spring….[that] have unleashed forces of change.’   He reserves his strongest rhetoric for the regimes themselves.

On Friday the White House declassified and released of the Government Assessment of the Syrian Government’s Use of Chemical Weapons to the public.  President Obama strategically recused himself from the appearance of being the face of US aggression towards the Middle East delegating Secretary of State John Kerry to address the nation from the East Room.  24 hours later President Obama conducted his Rose Garden retreat Saturday afternoon simultaneously during the kickoff of College Football season.  He stated that he believed he had the authority to carry out this military action without specific congressional authorization but he would defer military action until he obtained a Congressional vote authorizing the use of force.  A reversal in rhetoric that came as a surprise even to senior staff members.

Why would President Obama reverse the issuance of his verdict against Bashir Assad’s Syria?

Possible reason:  Operation Caliphate is too big to fail.

In the midst of his Rose Garden address, the president made the statement, “The hopes of the Arab Spring have unleashed forces of change that are going to take many years to resolve” which gave pause.  He went onto say that he would “continue to support the Syrian people through our pressure on the Assad regime, our commitment to the opposition, our care for the displaced, and our pursuit of a political resolution that achieves a government that respects the dignity of its people.”

How will this opposition support be evidenced?  As President Obama continues his petulant refusal to suspend $1.5 billion in annual aid promised to the Muslim Brotherhood in spite of the ousting of Mohammed Morsi from Egyptian power, are we to assume that he is going to suspend the procurement of weaponry and CIA steering of arms into rebel hands?

Despite dovish appearances and abortive red lines, how disengaged has Obama actually been in the Arab Spring?

Clearly President Obama has demonstrated support for opposition rebels throughout the Middle East and North Africa with funds, aid and arms.  Could it be argued that the Arab Spring was triggered by President Obama’s Cairo speech in 2009 with the introduction of his Cairo initiative?  Could it be argued that the Arab Spring was triggered the following year when Obama’s NASA administrator, Charles Bolden, left Americans scratching their heads when he publicly introduced NASA’s new mission on Al Jazeera as one of Muslim outreach?

Soon after President Barack Obama stood in Cairo, just over one year ago, and spoke of Partnership between the United States and Muslims around the world, he asked NASA to change…by reaching out to “non-traditional” partners and strengthening our cooperation in the Middle East, North Africa, Southeast Asia and in particular in Muslim-majority nations.  NASA has embraced this charge.

This charge led former NASA administrator, Michael Griffin, to condemn the new mission as a “perversion of NASA’s purpose.”

Since 2009 NASA has effectively reached out to the Muslim community implementing programs, such as GLOBE (Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment) and SERVIR, “a regional visualization and monitoring system that brings together NASA-provided satellite and other geospatial data measurements…used to monitor and forecast ecological changes”.  Evidently Middle Eastern and North Africa’s 45 million illiterate youth are more passionate about the effects of climate change than toppling regimes in their region.

Disregard the fact that NASA, the U.S. Embassy and Cisco have joined forces with NGOs such as Silatech, who pledge to build the capabilities of youth organizations through “mindset outreach” and “civic engagement”, and Qatar-based, pro-democracy think tank Sharq Forum, who pledge ‘to ensure the political development, social justice and economic prosperity…through bringing together politicians, social activists, intellectuals, religious leaders, youth leaders, businessmen and entrepreneurs…who [the Forum] will serve as a rallying point to exchange ideas, foster expertise, develop agendas and build consensus amongst members.”

One could ask, what difference does any of this conjecture make?  It seems futile to find a plausible explanation as to why President Obama reversed his course of action on Syria.  It is impossible to comprehend why President Obama insists on supporting regime opposition throughout the Middle East and North Africa.  It is befuddling trying to understand what guides President Obama’s foreign policy decision-making process.

Most notably, failing to support the fledging Arab Spring comes with grave consequence and warning.

In a January 18th, 2012 interview with CNN, Sharq Forum’s founder and President and former General-Director of Al Jazeera, Wahad Khanfar, made the following unveiled threat:

“It is past time for the West to accept the Arab people’s will and to stop exaggerating the repercussions of change.  The West must support genuine democracy in the Arab world.  If the Arab Spring is aborted, the result will be not dictatorships that are loyal to the West, but rather, a tsunami of rage that will spare no one.  There is nothing more dangerous than aborted dreams, especially when those dreams may be the last chance for change.”

These words of peace from the moderate Islamist who has been ranked by Foreign Policy Magazine in 2011 as the first in the Foreign Policy Top 100 Global Thinkers, Fast Company’s first in the 100 Most Creative People in Business, one of the most “Powerful People in the World” by Forbes Magazine in 2009, and was named one of the “Young Global Leaders” in the World Economic Forum  in 2008.

Leslie Deinhammer

Illinois PolitiChick Leslie Anne Deinhammer, writer, chaplain and proud wife of a Marine Corps veteran, writes on topics of politics, human rights and faith. Follow her at @lesliedhammer on Twitter.

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