Hendricks County Flyer, Avon, IN

Commentary

May 13, 2013

Statecraft as malpractice

Someone had to take the fall for President Barack Obama thoughtlessly drawing a “red line” threatening serious consequences if Syria used chemical weapons. It turns out that it is the president himself.

Senior officials explained to The New York Times that last August, the president’s advisers had no idea he was going to boldly issue a red-line warning. The president was “unscripted,” according to one official. In this perilously untelepromptered state, he accidentally made a statement that sounded like it was fraught with foreboding.

“We have been very clear to the Assad regime,” the president said, “but also to other players on the ground, that a red line for us is when we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized. That would change my calculus.”

The phrase “red line” is a term of art usually denoting the trigger for the use of force.

We are now told by the officials that the red line was merely a gaffe, although evidently a serial gaffe. In March, Vice President Joe Biden said, “We’ve set a clear red line against the use [or] the transfer of those weapons.”

A couple of weeks later, the president drew the red line again. “We will not tolerate the use of chemical weapons,” he said, adding, “The world is watching; we will hold you accountable.”

With intelligence indicating that chemical weapons were used in Syria, the president has been crab-walking away from his formerly stalwart stance. Trying to contort himself out of a falsehood in the Monica Lewinsky scandal, Bill Clinton infamously insisted, “It depends on what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is.” For Obama, it depends on the meaning of “red,” “line” and “accountable.”

All these words present such complex definitional challenges that it is impossible for the layman to grasp the subtleties of his pensees.

Text Only
Commentary
  • Benefits of hiking minimum wage are just an illusion |I don’t know anyone averse to making more money. Sure, I have friends who demonstrate, through words and actions, that money is not the most important thing in their lives. But I haven’t seen one of them turn down a raise. I wouldn’t, either. (That'

    March 3, 2014

  • Benefits of hiking minimum wage are just an illusion |I don’t know anyone averse to making more money. Sure, I have friends who demonstrate, through words and actions, that money is not the most important thing in their lives. But I haven’t seen one of them turn down a raise. I wouldn’t, either. (That'

    March 3, 2014

  • Letter to the editor |To the Editor: As the dust has settled somewhat in the state legislature over HJR-3, with its endless debates, and other matters are given credence in the media, I'm given to reflecting on a phrase made famous by a folk singer of the 1960s who harmo

    February 27, 2014

  • Letter to the editor |To the Editor: As the dust has settled somewhat in the state legislature over HJR-3, with its endless debates, and other matters are given credence in the media, I'm given to reflecting on a phrase made famous by a folk singer of the 1960s who harmo

    February 27, 2014

  • A military budget of delusion |The Obama administration says that we need to end what it calls "the era of austerity" in Washington. Notably excluded from this admonition is the one department of government that is actually experiencing austerity worthy of the name. Defense Secre

    February 26, 2014

  • Brent Glasgow Sherman, Miller apples of the same tree

    There was a wide array of reactions to Seattle DB Richard Sherman’s post-game “interview” with Erin Andrews following the Seahawks’ NFC title win over San Francisco.

    Mine? Laughter, as the shout-down was the most entertaining thing I saw all day.

    January 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Brent Glasgow Cash greener, but grass not so far for Butler

    Butler is still a long way from saving its 2013-14 men’s basketball season, but if the Bulldogs turn it around fully and reach the NCAA Tournament, it will have started this past Saturday at Hinkle Fieldhouse.

    January 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Brent Glasgow Downer finale doesn’t change Colts’ positives

    A fine season for the Indianapolis Colts ended with a whimper Saturday at New England, but in recent team history, it was far from the most disappointing postseason defeat.

    January 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • Brent Glasgow Colts have chance to pen masterpiece

    The Indianapolis Colts’ miraculous 45-44 wild card victory over Kansas City on Saturday ended just after 8 p.m. After leaving Lucas Oil Stadium, it took until around midnight for the pounding in my head to subside.

    January 7, 2014 1 Photo

  • A manufactured ADHD epidemic If at any time while reading this article your attention wanders, you may have ADHD. If you pause to check your e-mail sometime during the next three paragraphs, you should consult a doctor. If you fail to read this article all the way to the end, yo

    December 31, 2013

House Ads
Hendricks County Marquee
Email News Sign Up
Facebook
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter
Poll

New poll question: Will you be attending this year’s Indianapolis 500?

Yes
No
Undecded
     View Results
AP Video
Raw: Ferry Sinks Off South Korean Coast Town, Victims Remember Texas Blast Freeze Leaves Florida Panhandle With Dead Trees At Boston Marathon, a Chance to Finally Finish Are School Dress Codes Too Strict? Raw: Fatal Ferry Boat Accident Suspicious Bags Found Near Marathon Finish Line Boston Marks the 1st Anniversary of Bombing NYPD Ends Muslim Surveillance Program 8-year-old Boy Gets His Wish: Fly Like Iron Man Sex Offenders Arrested in Slayings of CA Women India's Transgenders Celebrate Historic Ruling Tributes Mark Boston Bombing Anniversary Raw: Kan. Shooting Suspect Faces Judge
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Must Read