President Obama’s Saturday speech on Syria (where he decided not to decide) offers at least five fine examples of how not to employ military power.
Consulting with Congress is, of course, exactly the right step to take before committing both U.S. armed forces and the American people to ventures overseas. But, how the president got to this point is a lesson in lousy leadership.
Lesson #1: Surprise is Still a Principle of War. If the president’s priority was really to punish Assad with shock and awe, he went about it all wrong. The regime has had plenty of time to get ready–disperse assets; marshal its allies; deploy human shields; and decide how it will respond or preempt US action.
Lesson #2. Red Lines Only Work When They Are Red. The whole idea of a red line is prevent bad behavior by declaring if the line is crossed there will be swift and decisive action.
If President Obama was really serious about holding Assad accountable he should have consulted Congress before he issued a red line–not after.