Leah Barkoukis

Syrian newspapers are saying that Obama’s decision to seek congressional approval is the “start of the historic American retreat,” and on Fox News Sunday, Chris Wallace noted that officials in Damascus are saying the president “flinched” and had “made a joke of the American administration.” Given these types of reactions, Wallace asked Sec. John Kerry whether he “handed Syria and Iran at least a temporary victory.”

“I don’t believe so at all,” Kerry responded. “And that is in the hands of the Congress of the United States. The president has made his decision. The president wants to stand up and make certain that we uphold the international norm, that we do not grant impunity to a ruthless dictator to gas his own people. Anybody who saw those images, anybody who know focuses on the evidence that I just gave you about signatures of sarin in the hair and blood samples of the first responders -- I mean, first responders died.  People who went to help the people who were hurt, died in this case.”

Kerry, who is making the rounds on all five Sunday shows, is pressing the administration’s case for military action, especially given evidence that the Assad regime used sarin gas. “This case is building and this case will build,” Kerry said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

But Obama’s decision to seek congressional authorization is not necessarily the problem here—it’s that he did not call Congress back for a special session at the earliest date possible.

“You can’t leave the region hanging,” Krauthammer said. “It looks absolutely as if the United States has chickened out.”

“Even though I think a limited attack is not the right thing to do, at this point he has to do something, or we will have reached the lowest ebb of American influence in the region since 1970,” he said.

Krauthammer strongly disapproved of Obama’s timetable, which allows for Congress to debate military interaction, presumably when the chambers get back in session on September 9th. The analyst said Syrians being attacked by their own government have no such lack of urgency.

“They hear a president who has no idea what he is doing and speaks about this in a leisurely way,” Krauthammer said. “What the president ought to do—I can’t believe that he actually decided otherwise—was to bring in Congress tomorrow. We have Reagan Airport, National Airport, Dulles, BWI. You can use the Air Force. You bring in the members of Congress, you have a debate for two days and you have a resolution.”

And the optics of  going golfing with Biden just minutes after his major announcement on Syria are terrible, to say the least.

So, what kind of message is this sending to the world? Via The Blaze:

Housing Minister Uri Ariel of Israel’s right-wing Jewish Home party said, “In Tehran, they’re opening the champagne, and switching into a higher gear en route to nuclear weapons.”

“Facing real dangers, no one in the world will stand with us,” Ariel said according to the Times of Israel, voicing a widely held opinion that Obama’s wavering on Syria will only embolden Iran in its march toward nuclear weapons.

“President Obama blinked, and this is bad. It is bad for the US’ interests, it’s bad for its allies’ interests and it sends an encouraging message to cruel, unrestrained regimes that possess or don’t possess weapons of mass destruction,”wrote prominent military analyst Ron Ben-Yishai of the Israeli paper Yedioth Aharonot.

That’s a sentiment the Associated Press appeared to echo, writing: “The stunning reversal also raises questions about the president’s decisiveness and could embolden leaders in Syria, Iran, North Korea and elsewhere, leaving them with the impression of a US president unwilling to back up his words with actions.”

“The international stammering and vacillation over Syria proves, yet again, that Israel can trust in none but itself,” Economy Minister Naftali Bennett said, according to Reuters Jerusalem Correspondent Dan Williams.

Obama said on Saturday that the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs indicated to him that “our capacity to execute this mission is not time-sensitive; it will be effective tomorrow, or next week, or one month from now.” There are many who beg to differ, however. 


Leah Barkoukis

Leah Barkoukis is the Managing Editor at Townhall Magazine.

Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography