LAMBRO: Wishing for war?

Adventure abroad could distract from troubles at home

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Secretary of State John F. Kerry, speaking in London on Monday, sought to play down the damage that cruise missiles would inflict on Syrian military targets. The strikes would require an “unbelievably small, limited kind of effort.”

Mr. Obama, however, in an interview with NBC News, flatly rejected Mr. Kerry’s timid characterization of the cruise-missile attacks, saying they would be significant. “The U.S. does not do pinpricks,” he said.

It was clear that the president and Mr. Kerry have not gotten their act together about how they plan to punish Syrian President Bashar Assad for the chemical weapons that had killed more than 1,400 civilians outside of Damascus. Nor had either been able to clearly make the case for military strikes, with top officials often using contradictory justifications for bombing Syrian military installations.

Many of the administration’s supporters in Congress complained that the White House still had not explained how Mr. Assad’s chemical arsenal endangered America’s national security.

Looming over Mr. Obama’s failure to fix the economy and boost payrolls, and his mishandling of the crisis in Syria, is next week’s vote to keep the government running past the Sept. 30 budgetary deadline, the start of the new fiscal year.

That battle, plus another deadline for raising the federal debt limit by Oct. 31, have injected further uncertainty into a jittery, stalled economy.

It has also deepened distrust in this president here and abroad about his policies and his judgment. The economy is worsening by the month, the federal government is plunging deeper into record debt, and the president wants to go to war in Syria — hoping we’ll forget about the first two problems.

Donald Lambro is a syndicated columnist and contributor to The Washington Times.

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