U.S. President Barack Obama is sinking deeper and deeper in trouble. Immediately after the Aug. 21 chemical weapons attack in Syria, the enlightened world still stood with him. Even Russia, a staunch ally of Syrian President Bashar Assad, was not as resolute as usual.
But the American president failed to understand that there is a time for war and a time for peace. It is all about momentum, and he missed his opportunity to attack without sparking resistance and a backlash.
As soon as the sheer dimensions of the chemical massacre became clear, the citizens of the enlightened nations were angry and outraged, and even terrified. But, when instead of responding, the world's only superpower avoided making decisions and pretended that it was not clear whether what happened had actually happened, and when Europe gladly jumped on the indecision bandwagon, the right moment to strike quickly slipped through Obama's fingers. Now it looks like it may be too late. Not just for Obama, but for more than a thousand victims of a deadly attack on a dark day in Damascus.
How was Obama pushed into a corner like this? Subliminally, he signaled that he was not entirely at peace with launching a military attack on Syria. He then lost the support of one European nation after another, while ignoring the most disconcerting historical phenomenon: the gradual Islamization of the European continent. If he had taken action on time, British Prime Minister David Cameron would have been on board, even without the support of the British Parliament.
But the thing that best reflects the West's detachment is the process currently underway in the U.S. The way of the world is that usually the military is eager to use its power while the state is there to restrain the army's enthusiasm. The current situation is that the American command is probably the least aggressive and least professional that the country has known since its inception. The U.S. army doesn't trust its own power.
In any case, the 435 members of the House of Representatives are also uninterested in an attack. In 1967, when Education and Culture Minister Zalman Aran was asked why he did not back Israel's defensive war, he replied honestly, "I don't vote in favor of war when I don't feel the army pushing me to do so." That is how it is in democracies, but it is the opposite direction in which U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey is headed.
Especially considering that members of the House of Representatives, familiar with their indifferent or decadent voters, are asking why, if Obama doesn't legally need the approval of Capitol Hill, he is placing the burden of the decision on them. If he needs them, then they don't want the responsibility.
It turns out that Israel is the only loyal supporter the U.S. president has left. Israel is also liable to pay a heavy price if Obama decides to honor his own commitment and refuse to erase the red lines he himself drew. But supporting the American president doesn't relieve Jerusalem of its duty to think long and hard about whether Israel can really trust its superpower ally.
There is a psychological and diplomatic link between U.S. policy toward Assad and the American vow to prevent the nuclearization of Iran. This latest complication has forced Obama to bet everything he has -- diplomatically, militarily and morally.