President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry are handling the Syria situation like a couple of comedians, says Wall Street Journal columnist Daniel Henninger
"A consensus assessment of the past week's events could easily form around Oliver Hardy's famous lament to the compulsive bumbler Stan Laurel: 'here's another nice mess you've gotten us into!'" Henninger writes in the paper.
"In the interplay between Barack Obama and John Kerry, it's not obvious which one is Laurel and which one is Hardy. But diplomatic slapstick is not funny. No one wants to live in a Laurel and Hardy presidency."
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In such a world, "red lines vanish, shots across the bow are word balloons, and a display of U.S. power with the whole world watching is going to be 'unbelievably small,'" Henninger says.
Obama has shown a lack of leadership skills, he maintains. "This week he turned himself, the presidency and the United States into a spectacle . . . The world has effectively lost its nominal leader, the U.S. president."
That's a major problem, Henninger says. "The belief by some that we can ride this out till a Reagan-like rescue comes in the 2016 election is wrong." That's a long three years away, he notes.
There is plenty to worry about throughout the Mideast, starting with Iran, Henninger says. "[Its] 16,600 uranium-enrichment centrifuges are spinning," he says.
"Iran's over-flights of Iraq to resupply Damascus with heavy arms and Quds forces will continue until Assad wins. Turkey and Saudi Arabia, U.S. allies, will start . . . talks with Iran, a U.S. enemy. Israel will do what it must, if it can."
China also may be emboldened to embark on an even more aggressive foreign policy in light of U.S. weakness on Syria, Henninger says. "Articles now appear routinely describing how the U.S. 'pivot' toward Asia is no longer believed by Asians." North Korea and al-Qaida remain as threats too, Henninger says.
"Syria looks lost. The question now is whether anyone who participated in the fiasco, from left to right, will adjust to avoid a repeat when the next crisis comes," he writes.
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"The president himself needs somehow to look beyond his own instinct on foreign policy. It's just not enough. . . . A 40-month run of Laurel and Hardy's America will endanger everyone.
More liberal commentators also are criticizing Obama's Syria policy too. Maureen Dowd of The New York Times
writes that Obama is "leading by slip-of-the-tongue."
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