- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 28, 2013

It has taken eight days for the major players to stake out their territory after the chemical attacks on civilians in Syria. The emerging strategic messages and responses are under the magnification of many journalists who pine to shield President Obama from any comparisons to former President George W. Bush, and the challenges he faced in the aftermath of Sept. 11, 2001, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Here’s the short guide of what’s evolving:

The Republican Party: Two distinct, opposing sides have emerged. On one side are the old school hawks and pragmatists, such as Sen. John McCain of Arizona and Rep. Peter T. King of New York who approve of a military strike. Like, now. They are in contrast to Libertarian-leaning lawmakers, such as Sens. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Ted Cruz of Texas who are unconvinced that national interest is at stake, are skeptical that an intervention will work and remain fearful of its price tag. Lawmakers also have criticized the White House for revealing too many tactical details, meanwhile.

The U.S. Congress: Britain will hold an emergency session of Parliament on Thursday to craft its response to Syria. Will Congress follow suit? One bipartisan group of 116 Republicans and Democrats led by Rep. E. Scott Rigell, Virginia Republican, has asked the White House to consult Congress, as per the War Powers Resolution. The group has offered to “share the burden of decisions regarding U.S. involvement.” The inevitable question: Could a U.S. intervention place Americans at risk of a terrorist attack on U.S. soil?

Russia and China: Both nations say there could be “catastrophic” outcomes to a strike on Syria, insisting that the U.S. is bypassing the U.N. Security Council and rushing to judgment. They claim it is uncertain whether the regime of President Bashar Assad or rebel forces were behind the chemical attack. The wild card: Mr. Obama visits Russia next week for the G-20 economic talks.

Iran and Israel: Iran warns that an attack on Syria will automatically put Israel in the line of fire and at risk of retaliation. “The flames of outrage of the region’s revolutionaries will point toward the Zionist regime,” one Iranian parliamentarian noted this week. As for Israel, sales are brisk for gas masks.

President Obama, Secretary of State John F. Kerry, et al: The proverbial “red line” has been crossed, a moral imperative could be a stake. Will the White House only generate a political solution?

No “regime change” is the order, officials insist, even as news reports say a U.S. intervention in Syria could come as early as Thursday, and targets already have been identified. Though Mr. Kerry and Vice President Joseph R. Biden emerged with strong language and much posturing, the White House must now determine the timing of an appropriate, America-worthy strike that resonates with the Assad regime — with no collateral damage. Oh, yes, and one that generates some positive press coverage.

INSTITUTIONAL KNOWLEDGE

“The fundamental problem we’ve got — the United States — is that this administration has been in a withdrawal mode, in an apology mode. And therefore, that vacuum we’ve created is being filled by people who don’t have our values or our interests. And that gives China and Russia an opportunity to do things that are, fundamentally, against what we, as a country, and the American people would prefer to have happen.”

Donald Rumsfeld, reviewing White House response to the Syria question on Fox Business Network.

BEDSIDE READING

There’s an online resource for those still trying to figure out the Affordable Care Act, as the days dwindle down to a precious few; remember, Obamacare will emerge in all its behemoth glory in 32 days.

The resource? That would be Dontfundobamacare.com, a site that includes a public petition to Congress to defund the health care law that already has drawn close to 800,000 signatures, lawmakers’ voting records and contacts, a fact sheet and a pledge for senators and Republican U.S. Senate candidates declaring they would repeal the health care law — along with who supports such a measure.

The site is a project of the Senate Conservatives Fund, a political action committee.

CULTURAL MOMENT

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