Who would have guessed that liberal Democrat Barack Obama would end up being one of the biggest warmongering presidents in history. It is suspected by many that his decision to militarily intervene in Syria is being done to deflect the public's attention away from Obamacare, the IRS targeting of conservatives and the NSA surveillance scandal. Intervening on behalf of the Syrian rebels is unpopular because it is not clear that the rebels, who have been infiltrated by al Qaeda affiliates and Iranian-backed militias, are any better than President Bashar al-Assad's Shiite-controlled government, and toppling the regime may lead to instability to the detriment of Israel.
A Gallup poll found that going into Syria is more unpopular than any similar conflict since the airstrikes on Kosovo under President Bill Clinton 15 years ago. Only 36 percent of Americans support the intervention, compared to 51 percent who oppose it. Pope Francis is so opposed to military intervention, he led Catholics around the world in a day of fasting for peace in Syria. British voters are overwhelmingly against military action, with 47 percent opposing it and only 19 percent in favor. Seventy conservative Tories in British Parliament refused to vote for military action last week, and the legislation failed.
Obama claims that 10 countries that signed a vague statement about military action at the G-20 summit last week means they back his plans to invade Syria. However, Britain clearly opposes it, and Russia asserts that only four of those countries support the invasion. If Congress does not approve military action in a vote shortly, Obama appears ready to go ahead with the strikes anyway. This is even more disturbing since Russian president Vladimir Putin announced that his country will provide assistance to the Syrian government if the U.S. militarily intervenes on behalf of the rebels, reviving a dangerous U.S.-Russian rivalry.
Obama's plans to invade Syria have been muddled, vague, and impossible to follow. John Kass of The Chicago Tribune described it best:
"The problem is, Obama's war plans keep changing, and they're rather ambiguous. Axelrod says the dog has caught the car, but there's no telling when the car will take off again, twisting and turning and leaving that poor dog dizzy. Obama's plan for Syria is almost like Obamacare: We're not supposed to know what we're getting until after he gets the votes."
Obama has increased military action in many ways to levels far beyond George W. Bush. One senior military official told The Washington Post that the Obama administration has given the green light for "things that the previous administration did not."
In 2010, Obama increased the presence of Special Forces from 60 countries to 75 countries, mostly done in secret. There are now 4,000 Americans in the Special Forces in foreign countries. Each year, he asks for billion dollar increases to the Special Operations budget.
His military expansion has gone far beyond Afghanistan and Iraq, where the goal has expanded from regime change to nation building. Under Obama, troop levels in Afghanistan were increased to 17,000 in 2009. The verdict is still out on whether that was a wise intervention.
Drone strikes, controversial due to civilian casualties and eliminating low-level militants that could provide valuable information, have massively increased under Obama, especially in Pakistan. In 2009, Obama started covert drone strikes in Yemen. In 2011, although a U.S. strike successfully killed radical Yemeni-American cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, it also took out three U.S. citizens.
Drone strikes began in Somalia in June of 2011, escalating the proxy war. In April of this year, the Obama administration announced that it would be sending military aid directly to Somalia. This has many worried, considering what happened to U.S. troops there in the 1993 Black Hawk Down incident, where 18 U.S. troops were killed after militia fighters shot down their two helicopters. The administration has already been sending millions of dollars to six African countries to combat terrorism in Somalia.
Obama ordered U.S. military strikes on Libya in 2011 that took out dictator Muammar Qadhafi's regime. Many questioned this move, since Qadhafi had retreated from the despotic days of the Lockerbie bombing. He denounced the 9-11 attacks and was removed from the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism in 2006. Removing him from power has allowed the Muslim Brotherhood to take over the country. Many members of Congress objected to the strikes on the basis that Obama did not have constitutional authority. The 1973 War Powers Act, which was passed in response to the Vietnam War, requires a president to obtain congressional approval within 90 days of sending the military into a conflict.
In 2009, Obama signed an agreement to station U.S. personnel at seven military bases in Columbia, ostensibly to combat terrorism and narco-traffickers. About the only military action Obama has taken that most can agree upon was the U.S. military operation by Navy SEALs that ultimately killed Osama bin Laden.
Obama's domestic policy related to the terrorism has been equally aggressive, if not questionable. He supports the NSA spying program. He encouraged federal employees to spy on each other and report suspicious behavior under the Insider Threat Program. He defended intrusive body scans and pat downs at airports. He never shut down Guantanamo as he promised to do during his first year as president.
It is not that all of these efforts are wrong. Most of the public does not have enough information to make a fully informed assessment about each of these scenarios. But what we have learned from incidents like the IRS targeting of conservatives is that Obama cannot be trusted. Obama's military strikes, particularly his proposed invasion of Syria, are reminiscent of President Clinton's two-week bombing campaign against the Bosnian Serbs in 1995. Since both the Serbs and the Albanians had committed atrocities against each other going back hundreds of years, it was a bit arbitrary to choose one side over the other. Ultimately, the NATO-led campaign has been a dubious success, as feuding between the Serbs and Albanians continued after the interim government was set up in 1999.
Clinton very likely ordered the strikes on Kosovo in order to distract the public from his affair with Monica Lewinsky. Right before the affair became public, the movie Wag the Dog was released, about a president who constructs a fake war with Albania in order to divert attention from his sex scandal.
Immediately after the Lewinsky affair became public, Clinton ordered the bombing of the Al-Shifa pharmaceutical factory in Sudan. According to The New York Times, "American officials have acknowledged over the years that the evidence that prompted President Clinton to order the missile strike on the Shifa plant was not as solid as first portrayed. Indeed, officials later said that there was no proof that the plant had been manufacturing or storing nerve gas, as initially suspected by the Americans, or had been linked to Osama bin Laden, who was a resident of Khartoum in the 1980's." The U.S. State Department Bureau of Intelligence and Research issued a report in 1999 critical of the attack and the link to bin Laden. Werner Daum, the German ambassador to Sudan from 1996 to 2000, speculates that the destruction of the factory caused "several tens of thousands of deaths of Sudanese.
There has also been speculation that Obama wants intervention because he is a secret member of the Muslim Brotherhood. Obama claims that military intervention against Syria is justified, since the government used chemical weapons against its own people. Yet that was precisely the reason George W. Bush received so much criticism for the Iraq War. Saddam Hussein used chemical weapons against the Kurds, killing far more Iraqi people than the 1,400 that have been killed from chemical weapons in Syria. The left tried very hard to make George W. Bush appear to be a warmongering president. Don't hold your breath for them to do that with Obama.