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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Sep 10, 2013 / 6 Tishrei, 5774

Obama misunderstands wartime leadership

By Michael Gerson



http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | In 1938, President Franklin Roosevelt told his speechwriter Sam Rosenman, “It’s a terrible thing to look over your shoulder when you are trying to lead — and to find no one there.”

For President Obama to have arrived at this place is uncomfortable but not unprecedented. Democratic majorities generally do not clamor for the application of violence in global affairs. Usually it is a president who sees a strategic problem requiring the use of force and must persuade his fellow citizens.

During his news conference following the Group of 20 summit in Russia, Obama’s reference to the example of FDR — trying to persuade a reluctant nation to help the British — was revealing. Roosevelt won the approval of historians by challenging, even circumventing, American resistance to war. His foreign-policy leadership consisted of opposing a shortsighted democratic consensus.

Obama is hardly the first peace candidate to push the nation toward conflict. Woodrow Wilson campaigned in 1916 on the slogan, “He kept us out of war.” During the 1940 election, Roosevelt was still promising, “Your sons will not go to war.” Yet both men skillfully made the transition to wartime leadership.

Obama affirmed in his news conference that he “was elected to end wars, not start them.” He then proceeded to show how unsuited his skills and strategies are to the task of beginning an armed conflict. His goal? To maintain an “international norm.” His current options? Not “appetizing.” His future methods? “Limited.” The level of opposition? “You know, our polling operations are pretty good.” His main argument? “I think that I have a well-deserved reputation for taking very seriously and soberly the idea of military engagement.”

So far, the president’s case for attacking Syria can be summarized as follows: Precisely because Obama has been hesitant and conflicted about intervention for two years, Americans should trust that the intervention he now proposes is unavoidable. His very ambivalence is the source of his credibility. And a war-weary nation can be assured that Obama has chosen minimal objectives and will employ minimal force — a strike Secretary of State John Kerry calls “unbelievably small.”

The questions arising from Congress and the public have been predictable. If the methods are so minimal, will they actually accomplish anything except risking retaliation? If the president is so ambivalent, why should people rally to his cause, particularly to the legal abstraction of enforcing a “norm”?

Obama’s approach represents a misunderstanding of wartime leadership. It is not possible for a president to justify the use of force by downplaying it. Americans support armed conflict when the stakes are highest, not when the costs are lowest. It is a tribute to their moral seriousness. There is no way for a president to accommodate American war weariness by setting “unbelievably small” goals; he must overcome it by explaining urgent, unavoidable national purposes. If Obama can’t define those purposes in Syria, his wartime leadership will not succeed.

He has a strong moral and strategic case to make. Bashar al-Assad is the author of poison gas attacks against children — the latest in a series of mass atrocities aimed at civilians. Tolerance for such butchery would be a source of historical shame and an invitation to future crimes. But this moral stand is located within a broader strategic argument. A dangerous alliance of Iran, Syria and Hezbollah, with outside support from Russia, is seeking dominance in a region essential to U.S. interests. It is important to prevent their victory in the Syrian civil war and to avoid the destabilization of key allies. And it is necessary to make clear that Iran’s proxy, the Assad regime, cannot use weapons of mass destruction with impunity. For Congress to undercut Obama in his confrontation with Damascus would invite future miscalculations in Tehran.

The Obama administration already has elements of a regional strategy in place. It has imposed sanctions on the Assad regime and provided considerable aid to threatened neighbors. It is committed to training selected rebels. And it is hinting that strikes against Syrian targets may actually be larger than Kerry describes. “By degrading Assad’s capacity to deliver chemical weapons,” U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power recently argued, “we will also degrade his ability to strike at civilian populations by conventional means.” This sounds a lot like attacks on air bases, runways, aircraft and rocket launchers.

It may be difficult, at this late date, to assemble these elements into a case that persuades Congress. But it is not even possible without the end of ambivalence.

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Previously:



09/09/13 Rallying around a gesture
08/30/13 The preacher and the politician
08/27/13 Is Obama's oft-cited best-case scenario in Syria still even possible?
08/23/13 Jordan's wary welcome
08/20/13 The hardest goodbye: A parent letting go
08/16/13 For GOP, opposition shouldn't only mean obstruction
08/13/13 Crazy, humane determination creates breakthrough for millions
08/09/13 America's bubble of complacency
07/01/11 The GOP's ideal America
03/04/11 The last doughboy and the emergence of a great nation
03/01/11 Conservatives shouldn't be so surprised by freedom
02/22/11 The progression of pain
02/18/11 The seriousness primary
02/11/11 Do Egypt's protests mean American decline?
01/27/11 No-bend Obama
01/21/11 Two good arguments for civility -- and passion -- in politics
01/11/11 Obama's staff changes give him a second chance
01/11/11 Is Arizona shooting an empty search for meaning?
01/07/11 WikiLeaks gives dangerous ammunition to a tyrant
01/04/11 Michael Vick: Symbol of the second chance
12/28/10 Social Security reform is the answer to Obama's problems --- and the nation's
12/21/10 When foreign policy realism isn't realistic
12/17/10 When it comes to politics, Obama's ego keeps getting in the way
11/26/10 Libs resort to conspiracy theories to explain Obama's problems
11/19/10 With Holder at the helm, detainee policy is a disaster
11/12/10 Blue-state budget crises spell even more trouble for Dems
10/19/10 Obama the snob
10/12/10 Seeds of victory in Afghanistan
10/05/10 Believers' remorse
10/04/10 Pound-foolish on national security
09/28/10 Babylon on the Potomac
09/27/10 Our reluctant commander in chief
09/21/10 Blue strongholds are becoming Democratic graveyards
09/17/10 For the GOP, a bittersweet brew from the Tea Party
09/15/10: Insanity's great enablers
09/13/10: The lost communicator
09/08/10: Will 2010 midterms be 1994 all over again?
09/01/10: Obama's economic wandering
08/27/10: Miracles from abroad
08/25/10: Address these issues in order to strengthen the Tea Party
08/20/10: The lost promise of Barack Obama
07/23/10: Obama's greatest nightmare
02/04/09: The Reality of Innocence
01/07/09: The Risks in Obama's Ambitions
12/31/08: Support Obama Will Need
06/13/08: Prince Charles, Organic Conservatism Icon
06/11/08: No longer a bankrupt political joke but still overshadowed
04/23/08: McCain's anger management
04/10/08: A Country for Old Men
03/06/08: Does the America Need a Hug?
03/06/08: Obama's First 100 Days
02/29/08: Words Aren't Cheap
02/22/08: He Said, They Said
02/20/08: Dying silently in Zimbabwe
02/15/08: Hillary's Unappealing Path
02/13/08: NATO's Afghan Stumbles
02/08/08: Why McCain Endures
02/06/08: One surge that led to another
02/01/08: In North Korea, Process Over Progress
01/30/08: Compassionate to the end


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