President Barack Obama's lack of decisiveness in his Syria policy is turning it into an all-round failure, says Republican strategist Karl Rove.
Obama's speech from Tuesday won't do much to increase public support for a military attack, Rove writes in The Wall Street Journal
. "The address again showed the limits of the president's ability to shape opinion."
Obama did a good job in the speech describing the gravity of Syria's use of chemical weapons and why a military strike is in our interest, Rove says.
"But Mr. Obama was unable to overcome his paralyzing ambivalence. He portrayed Syrian leader Bashar Assad as a war criminal — who should remain in power."
The first part of Obama's speech made the case for a military assault, while the second part made the case for delaying a vote in Congress to authorize an attack, Rove says.
"The man ostensibly preparing America for war went out of his way to say that he was elected to get us out of war — a sign of how conflicted a commander in chief he is."
Even if Obama's speech had been perfect, "it came much too late," Rove says. "Public opinion on the issue has hardened. Nor could the president overcome the fundamental problem that he was asking Congress to postpone a vote that he'd lose in order to pursue a Russian proposal that probably won't work."
The proposal calls
for international monitors to seize and destroy Syria's supply of chemical weapons.
"Securing Syria's chemical weapons would be an extremely difficult undertaking in the best conditions," Rove says. "To hope to achieve it with Assad still in power, while Syria is embroiled in a brutal civil war, is delusional."
Obama's dithering serves as a blow to the Syrian opposition, especially rebels allied with the West, Rove says
. "The U.S. has backed down after it seemed clear this country would strike Assad," he states. "The opposition also will remain under a withering assault from the Assad regime."
Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin's chemical weapons proposal didn't come out of fear of Obama or in friendship with the United States, Rove says. "The Russian president acted out of self-interest. He is skillfully making Russia the key player in the region, at America's expense."
"Mr. Putin saved Mr. Obama from a catastrophic congressional defeat, which is why the president seized on Mr. Putin's offer like a drowning man grabs for a lifeline."
Obama has shown deficiencies in strategic thinking and leadership, has failed to build strong global alliances, and has weak relationships with both Republicans and Democrats in Congress, Rove says. "All these have now come home to roost."
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