If I can be permitted to set aside, just for this moment, the overpowering grip that temporizing has on B. Obama, never seen more clearly than in his first debate with M. Romney during the 2012 election, I think it likely that, by this time the President is deeply sorry that, nearly a year ago, he didn't take my advice to go with a U.S. strike in Syria, right after he revealed that it was in the wind, in whatever unknown form that his military experts proposed it to him. And they must've had something out of the ordinary and even brilliant in mind, otherwise what good are all those Pentagon types with all the scrambled egg on the bills of their caps? Instead in September 2013 he took the easy route in which a large part of the country was sloshing and wallowing, and he decided to bring Congress in on it, with the all too predictable blah results that you always get whenever those 535 drags on the country are brought into anything.
At the time there was a non-stop torrent of blather about all the dreadful things that would happen, should Obama give the order -- outcomes for which not one of these doomsayers had reasonable evidence, whereas Obama could’ve pointed out how, with his assistance, NATO intervention had prevented a Gaddafi bloodbath in Libya. But that didn’t stop those negators from endlessly belching out fiddle-faddle that amounted to nothing except essentially saying what a bad idea it would be to try to slow down and even stop the wholesale slaughter of Syrians that had already been going on with hardly a pause for the previous two and a half years. These “wise heads” had no eyes for putting themselves out for some brown people in the Middle East, who, moreover, weren’t sitting on top of as much oil as some of their neighbors.
Bobby Fischer, the late, great Brooklyn-bred chess grandmaster, said, "Timing is everything," and he demonstrated that in game after remarkable game. One of the things he meant was that a player shouldn't hem and haw, once the idea for a sharp, hard-hitting combination takes shape in his head. The sacrifice that can't be refused must be made while it's sitting there to be made and even when the ultimate success of that combination isn't quite clear as yet.
That opportunity, like all those lives, was squandered in Syria, with Congress likewise trumpeting and braying, “Nay,” and the wise heads went back to scratching their butts and throwing back a few, while congratulating themselves for having been on the side of something that they were pleased to call “prudence and peace." It didn’t matter to them that thus, unhindered by the international world and instead feeling themselves being cheered on by Russians, Chinese, and a host of "sometimey" American progressives, Syrians kept on killing other Syrians by a great variety of means, for no more reason than to keep the government in Damascus headed by an Assad.
Having missed the boat on Iraq, everyone was determined to avoid making that blunder again, though only complete dummies could have missed seeing from the start that the GWBush drive into Iraq was a large-scale exercise in penis-wagging and nothing else. But Syria was more a mess in 2013 than Iraq was in 2003, despite Saddam's constant misfires and the attentions Iraq had been shown by American sanctions and air power. Iraq’s water, electrical, and health systems were all still working, and for a long time Saddam had been spending most of his days huddled quietly in his palaces and doing much more stewing than brewing, with not one weapon of mass destruction to his name.
Now, in 2014, Saddam is long gone from this life, and until very recently the Americans were also gone -- trying to stitch their minds back together in V.A. hospitals -- and the bubbling in the Iraq pot had been nearly drowned out by other drum beats. But the mix in that pot never really simmered down, and in the past several weeks things there have started popping and crackling and boiling over again. A new version of Al Qaeda, called “ISIS” and seemingly arisen from almost out of nowhere, went on the move in Iraq and captured cities and started closing in on oilfields in the Kurdish areas. and this time, Obama hardly hesitated, nor did he talk much in advance about what he was going to do.
In the interest of doing a “Bobby Fischer” for a change, he didn’t let himself get hung up on the possibility that, after he acted, the U.S. might once again get its brogans mired deeply in the Iraqi mud. Instead I think he saw this as good timing, and he must’ve been relieved at being given the chance to hit ISIS with some air sorties that, among other things, allowed the Kurds to re-take two of their towns, while at the same time he ordered other American airmen to drop badly needed supplies and later some personnel to aid an Iraqi minority called the Yazidi, who were bottled up in the mountains while having suffered as many as 500 deaths at the hands of the murderous ISIS forces.
Also these moves were forms of redemption, for, in a notable instance of bad timing, Obama had screwed up on Gaza just a few days earlier, when he and his advisers bought in on the Yahus’ assertion that one of their soldiers, one man, had been kidnapped in Gaza, and -- just as B. Netanyahu had also charged Hamas with kidnapping and murdering three Israeli teenagers, which he used as his excuse for unleashing the pit bulls of war on the whole captive population of Gaza – Obama quickly charged Hamas with grabbing that soldier, only to find out that the man had been killed in combat. But that didn’t stop an instant Israeli operation that resulted in no less than 50 Palestinian deaths in one day. Fifty for each one Israeli death! But oh no, Gaza can never be likened to Lidice! So say the Yahu apologists.