Rich Galen

NOTE: This is being written on Tuesday afternoon - about six hours before President Obama's scheduled speech on Syria. We'll have a special edition of MULLINGS Wednesday to share thoughts on that.

President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry have successfully maneuvered us into a position where Syria and its strongest ally, Russia, have exclusive rights to determine how, what, where and when to deal with the chemical weapons that (a) Putin said there was no proof Assad ever used, and (b) Assad denies he has ever had.

This, in Washington, is seen by many as a victory for Obama.

But, on the 12th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States, is a bitter pill for many Americans to have to swallow.

As one of the relatively few people reading this today to have spent any considerable amount of time in a war zone (even if I spent most of it cowering behind actual war fighters), I am not in favor of going to war just because the President said something dumb ("red line") or the Secretary of State said something even dumber ("incredibly small") .

I am also not in favor of going to war because the Secretary of Defense told a Congressional Committee that that U.S. had to continue to threaten to go to war against Syria to pressure Assad to accept international controls (supervised by Russia) over its chemical weapons stockpile (that Assad now admits to having).

Shorthand: We may have to go to war to avoid going to war.

That is strangely reminiscent of the infamous quote about B?n Tre, Vietnam in 1968 attributed to an unnamed US Army Major by the AP's Peter Arnett: "It became necessary to destroy the town to save it."

Maybe it's a Pentagon thing.

While all that's going on public support for the President's, the Secretary of State's and the Defense Secretary's position on Syria continues to erode.

While it is extremely dangerous to demand that foreign policy be conducted on the basis of public opinion polls, it is telling that since the Administration went all in on its PR effort to sell this war, overwhelming majorities are opposed for example:

CBS - 33-56
CNN - 39-59
Pew - 28-63
Gallup - 36-51

A list of a dozen polls is available from

What this means to the Congress is simple: With the Russian gambit, there is no reason to vote on a resolution giving the President support for attacking Syria - at least not now.

Rich Galen

Rich Galen has been a press secretary to Dan Quayle and Newt Gingrich. Rich Galen currently works as a journalist and writes at