Diana West

As war on Syria is weighed, it is perverse to imagine that Americans must now die to legitimize presidential posturing in the White House pressroom. I refer, of course, to the president’s comments on Aug. 20, 2012, when he told the White House press corps regarding Syria that “a red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized. That would change my calculus. That would change my equation.”

Going to war without an American interest at stake to uphold such a statement is a downright monarchical concept – “L’Etat, c’est moi,” (“I am the state”), as King Louis XIV is supposed to have said. Worse, it sounds like a news flash from a country ruled by a Dear Leader, whose very word is law.

Presidential remarks do not constitute a declaration of war. Nor should ill-considered presidential remarks send a nation to war. Obama’s credibility may be at stake, but that’s by no means an American interest, and therefore not a cause to ask Americans to die for.

Meanwhile, Obama’s calculations have changed again. This week in Sweden, the president said, “I didn’t set a red line. The world set a red line.”

Could Obama possibly have forgotten what he said a year ago? Of course not. It may be more polite to describe such talk as “walking away from his earlier comments,” but I think it’s more accurate to say the president told a whopper – a lie. So much for Obama’s “credibility” right there. He went on: “The international community’s credibility is on the line. And America and Congress’ credibility is on the line because we give lip service to the notion that these international norms are important.”

Presidential flailing isn’t a casus belli, either.

The dictionary defines “credibility” as “the quality of being trusted and believed.” In fact, President Obama has no danger of losing his foreign policy credibility over Syria because he already lost it in the ruins of Benghazi. He promised America to hunt down the al-Qaida-linked forces that took out the U.S. compound. It is almost the first anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2012, attack that killed four Americans in Benghazi, including U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens. To date, the only person to be punished is the man who made the Muhammad video posted on YouTube, which the Obama administration, in classic “dhimmi” mode, blamed for the attack. Nightmarishly, President Obama is now contemplating sending Americans to war again to aid more al-Qaida-linked forces in Syria – allies of the very groups that killed Christopher Stevens, Sean Smith, Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty nearly a year ago.

This is madness. This doesn’t serve American interests; it harms them. It is also another place setting in America’s Mad Hatter foreign policy. From Iraq, to Afghanistan, to Libya, to Egypt, and now to Syria, America plops down, digs in and moves on, breaking lives and leaving nothing but a mess behind. The farther down the Mad Hatter’s table we go, the less connection there is to American interests.

Something to talk to your elected representative about as the caskets come home and we approach another grim anniversary.


Diana West

Diana West is the author of American Betrayal: The Secret Assault on Our Nation's Character (St. Martin's Press, 2013), and The Death of the Grown-Up: How America's Arrested Development Is Bringing Down Western Civilization (St. Martin's Press, 2007).