President Obama Expertly Balances the Threat of Force With the Wisdom of Diplomacy

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Having watched carefully the President’s speech on Syria this evening, I want to say–unequivocally–that I was not only very impressed with the President’s clear and compassionate explanation of his thinking on the Syria crisis, but am even more impressed by what he has managed to accomplished with his very skillful use of the credible threat of military force combined with behind-the-scenes attempts at diplomacy.

Most intelligent analysts that I have listened to in the past hour or so have agreed (a few reluctantly) that if we had been told a year ago, that Syria and Russia–because of the credible threat of a military strike ordered by President Obama–would have agreed 1. to admit that they DO have chemical weapons; 2, that they would agree (finally) to the chemical weapons treaty that they have long refused to sign; and 3. that they would be willing to hammer out an agreement to give up those weapons to the supervision of Russia, the U.N. and other countries—-IF we were told that that all of that would happen within a year, then we would have considered it a MIRACLE. 

Those who know say to make no mistake: it is ONLY because of Obama’s threat of force that there may be a diplomatic solution to this problem. It seems to me that the President is putting into action here the thoughtful diplomacy that he talked about when he first ran—and is combining it with the strong military he has always said is important. 

Unfortunately, this President can NOT win with SOME of you. Some said he should use force, but apparently he didn’t do it quickly enough. Some said that he should not use force; he should go to Congress. When he did that, some said that he was weak; he should have just decided on his own. Some said that he should not use force; he should use diplomacy. When he sent Sec. Kerry to talk diplomatically and when he spoke to Putin in Europe (where most experts figure he told Putin clearly that we were ready to use force) and when we now have a possible diplomatic solution–many say that it is not Obama we should thank and that Putin and Assad will not follow through on any commitments. 

Yet isn’t that the risk of any treaty or agreement? Should we, then, never undertake a treaty for fear a country may violate it—-or should we take steps as Reagan AND Obama have said to (trust, but) VERIFY???? In my mind, this is a great thing that this administration has accomplished–not with force–but with the threat of force and the skill of diplomacy in answer to Assad’s atrocious violation of international law in using chemical weapon to murder 1000 adults and over 400 children. Please, for once–give credit where credit is due. If this were Reagan or Clinton or Kennedy, Teddy (Speak softly but carry a big stick) Roosevelt or even Eisenhower who accomplished all of this, people would be acclaiming their genius. Be fair.

What frustrates me is that people can still be so negative–even insulting–toward our President when he accomplished all that I mentioned above (in Paragraph one–points 1, 2, and 3) with only the THREAT of military force—with no lives lost—not even one? To many people, that is an historical accomplishment. Most prominent Republicans even believe that he was RIGHT to go to Congress and to give them a chance to debate—which they have done! Sorry, what he has done in the past 3 weeks—with the help of Sec. Kerry—is what future historians will say was brilliant–and courageous—just as they now say about Kennedy in the Cuban Missile Crisis. 

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