Holmes Norton: “It’ll be because of loyalty…” UPDATE

My Image, Rome, 2010

She is not eligible to vote on the matter, but I was right with Eleanor Holmes Norton (Dem-DC), until she said this:

“If [Obama] gets saved at all, I think it’ll be because, it’ll be because of loyalty of Democrats. They just don’t want to see him shamed and humiliated on the national stage.”

So, the citizenry can take this issue seriously, ask serious questions, and fret about things, and offer prayers for the president and congress, and plan on participating in a world Day of Prayer over it, and the lawmakers, they might just…decide to bomb people because they don’t want to see their guy humiliated?

That was so disheartening to read. I can’t get behind the idea that “not making the president look bad” is justification for launching these strikes. Talk about Strange Gods!

I get that Holmes Norton is only projecting a possibility and not justifying it, and I get what Ed Morrissey is saying, here:

But “everybody’s crying out for American leadership, the Turks, the Arabs, and the Europeans. And given the weaknesses of the Europeans, given the vote in the British Parliament, given the fact that NATO ally Turkey is unable to lead – everyone is looking for the United States to lead, and there is no leadership,” said Melhem.

“The United States is AWOL.”

Of all the arguments for intervention in Syria, this is actually the only one with any merit at all. A leadership vacuum is dangerous anywhere, but especially in the Middle East, which is why a policy of talking loudly and carrying a small stick is probably worse than just keeping one’s mouth shut entirely. Melhem tells Tapper that Arab leaders have issues with Obama’s solicitude of Israel, but that’s a complaint they have with every American leader. It’s the other points that Melhem makes that gets to the heart of the lack of leadership — abandoning Mubarak, ignoring a popular revolt against the Iranian mullahs, and the sudden pas de deux around Syrian intervention — and why Arab leaders are worried that the US will abandon them to the Iranian-Syrian axis.

I get it, but (as Ed concludes) I also get that a few missile strikes are not going to change any of those perceptions or ameliorate such profound distrust. It will have to be more. It will have to be bigger. A big ego (and America itself has a big ego, not just Obama) requires a big counterbalance if it is to stave off a big humiliation.

I don’t feel good about this at all. It feels like too much unseriousness mixing with seriousness. It feels hapless and combustible.

As I’ve said repeatedly, I believe Congress will vote to strike. They don’t want to be held responsible for the next chemical-weapons-induced mass-grave pictures. But this feels scary. And please don’t tell me I’m “just a partisan”. I didn’t write a word about Libya. This is different. No one seems to know what is going on, and too much of it seems like face-saving; motives are suspect because of three little words: “a red line.”

Quite an irony, when you think of it. Back in 2003, people in the press talked about the “16 words” that proved Bush’s fecklessness, or his incompetence. Or his, you know, eeeeevilness. I’m not going to call Obama evil. But we are down to three words.

Here is Michael Yon:

Importantly, by saying we have “proof” of war crimes committed by Assad, we are saying we have proof that Assad is a war criminal. Assad knows the likely scenarios from here:

1) Fight to stay in power and prevail.
2) Fight and lose, and be killed on the streets like Gaddafi, hanged like Saddam, or life in prison.

President Obama has ipso facto called President Assad a war criminal. Assad does not need a powerful calculator to figure his odds if he fails to maintain power.

Like I said, my fear is that there will be nothing “small” about this. It will have to be big. And, I fear, bad.

A look at what moral theologians are saying. Only emphasizes how delicate this thing is, and why it ought not be decided recklessly.

Trappist nuns in Syria. Very concerned.

UPDATE: Falling in line

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About Elizabeth Scalia