Caroline Glick

US President Barack Obama's rapidly changing positions on Syria have produced many odd spectacles.

One of odder ones was the sight of hundreds of lobbyists from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee fanning out on Capitol Hill to lobby members of the House and Senate to support Obama's plan to launch what Secretary of State John Kerry called "unbelievably small" air strikes against empty regime controlled buildings in Syria.

AIPAC officials claimed they were doing this because the air strikes would help Israel.

But this claim was easily undone. Obama and Kerry insisted nothing the US would do would have any impact on the outcome of the Syrian civil war. This was supposed to be the strikes' selling point. But by launching worthless strikes, Obama was poised to wreck America's deterrent posture, transforming the world's superpower into an international joke.

In harming America's deterrent capabilities by speaking loudly and carrying an "unbelievably small" stick, Kerry and Obama also harmed Israel's deterrent posture.

Israel's deterrence relies in no small measure on its strategic alliance with the US.

Once the US is no longer feared, a key part of Israeli deterrence is removed.

Obama did not announce his intention to bomb empty buildings in Syria in order to impact the deterrent posture of either the US or Israel. He probably gave them little thought. The only one who stood to gain from those strikes - aside from Syrian President Bashar Assad who would earn bragging rights for standing down the US military - was Obama himself.

Obama wanted to launch the unbelievably small strikes to prove that he wasn't lying when he said that Syria would cross a red line if it used chemical weapons.

So if the strikes were going to harm the US and Israel, why did AIPAC dispatch its lobbyists to Capitol Hill to lobby in favor of them?

Because Obama made them.

Obama ordered AIPAC to go to Capitol Hill to lobby for the Syria strikes. He did so knowing that its involvement would weaken public support for AIPAC and Israel. Both would be widely perceived as pushing the US to send military forces into harm's way to defend Israel.

Then, with hundreds of AIPAC lobbyist racing from one Congressional office to the next, Obama left them in a lurch. He announced he was cutting a deal with Russia and had decided not to attack Syria after all.

What did AIPAC get for its self-defeating efforts on Obama's behalf?


Caroline Glick

Caroline B. Glick is the senior Middle East fellow at the Center for Security Policy in Washington, D.C., and the deputy managing editor of The Jerusalem Post, where this article first appeared.

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