Hoover Daily Report
Analysis and Commentary
Analysis and Commentary

Counterintuitively Risky

by Victor Davis Hansonvia Corner (National Review Online)
Thursday, September 5, 2013

Ostensibly, even an intervention of the most restricted sort in Syria, given the loud proclamations of the limited nature of cruise-missile attacks, should not pose geostrategic risks anything like costlier major ground operations of the sort we conducted in Afghanistan and Iraq. But unfortunately, even a limited, brief intervention now has far greater implications. Syria is on the Mediterranean; it borders our ally Israel and the hotbed of Middle East factionalism in Lebanon. Assad is an ally of Russia, Iran, and Hezbollah. China smells an occasion to demonstrate U.S. confusion. We are in the midst of the Arab Winter and unrest throughout the Arab Middle East. Many of the fault lines between Iran and the Gulf monarchies, as well as Sunni/al-Qaeda and Shiite/Hezbollah, run through the civil war in Syria. There are lots of dangerous weapons, from WMD to surface-to-air missiles, in the hands of lots of diverse and awful non-state actors. At home, the cumulative confused statements of the secretary of state, the president of the United States, and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs are not only mutually contradictory but also self-contradictory. But more important, whatever critics thought of George W. Bush, there was no question that he was both a decisive and at times an unpredictable leader that enemies were not comfortable testing. In contrast, fairly or not, Obama has earned a reputation for predictable equivocation, rhetorically eloquent, but not decisive, sermonizing without consequences, judgmental but not muscular — as we saw from serial but meaningless deadlines to Iran, simultaneous surges and withdrawal dates in Afghanistan, pink-lines in Syria, leading from behind in Libya, unpunished killers in Benghazi, flip-flop-flip in Egypt, failed flirtations with the Muslim Brotherhood and the new Ottomanism, and reset reset with Putin — all at a time of massive defense cuts, the so-called pivot, Anglo-American dissolution, and loud proclamations about a new, reduced U.S. profile abroad. The result is that our rivals and enemies seem more rash than at any time in the last 15 years, our allies never more bewildered. Should we bomb Assad, in theory Russia, China, Iran, Hezbollah, or its various surrogates would be foolish to test U.S. resolve either in the region or elsewhere. But in fact? Who knows? Let us hope that there is not enough doubt about American credibility to tempt someone to try something stupid, like sending a missile at a U.S. capital ship, dispatching terrorists to a U.S. embassy, attacking Israel, or cashing in chips elsewhere on the theory that the Americans cannot or will not do much of anything about it. Obama is in that most dangerous cycle now of trying to restore his squandered credibility (think the Carter Doctrine after Russians went into Afghanistan, Communists arose in Central America, China attacked Vietnam, and hostages were taken in Tehran). And the result is that everything is up in the air and so quite unpredictable. My worry is that while bright and sober people in the Democratic party and the non-partisan foreign-policy establishment have finally convinced Obama of the dangerous folly of equivocation and empty blustering, I don’t think sending some cruise missiles into Syria will achieve much restoration, but instead may set him up even for greater defiance and loss of face from Assad as he periodically emerges from his bunker to dare us again, on the theory that this impending missile barrage is a one-time, half-hearted make-up strike. All Americans, in non-partisan fashion, should be concerned that the floundering American whale is not drawing in opportunistic sharks who smell blood. The rub at this late date is best how to disabuse our enemies of that notion and reassure our friends of our unquestioned reliability. Yet after 99,000 Syrian dead, red-lines, and orders for Assad to abdicate, finally shooting off some missiles at who knows what for the benefit of no one quite knows over the principle of what we are not quite sure may make the mess even worse.

Analysis and Commentary

Two Important Implications from President’s Press Conference in Sweden

by Jack Goldsmithvia Lawfare
Thursday, September 5, 2013

I want to briefly unpack this extraordinary statement by President Obama yesterday in Sweden: [T]he truth of the matter is that under international law, Security Council resolution for self-defense or defense of an ally provides a clear basis for action.

Analysis and Commentary

Syria in Historical Context

by Victor Davis Hansonvia National Review Online
Thursday, September 5, 2013

What lessons does the past have for President Obama’s policy?

Oil Drilling
Analysis and Commentary

Africa’s Coming Resource Curse—And How to Avoid It

by Larry Diamondvia Foreign Affairs
Thursday, September 5, 2013
In October 2011, the U.S. Department of Justice filed a motion to seize a palatial cliff-top home in Malibu, California.
Analysis and Commentary

In The News – Immigration Reform Struggling To Maintain Momentum

by Hoover Institutionvia Advancing a Free Society
Thursday, September 5, 2013

Analysis and Commentary

Capitalism, Government, and the Good Society

by Russell Robertsvia Cafe Hayek
Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Last April, Liberty Fund and Butler University sponsored a symposium on capitalism, government, and the good society. I was the host. Mike Munger, Robert Skidelsky, and Richard Epstein each spoke on the topic. (Jamie Galbraith was invited but weather forced

Interviews
Interviews

Victor Davis Hanson on Garrison Radio

with Victor Davis Hansonvia Garrison (WIBC)
Wednesday, September 4, 2013
Interviews

Fouad Ajami on The John Batchelor Show (:34)

via John Batchelor Show
Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Guests: Fouad Ajami, Hoover; Gretchen Morgenson, NYT; Claudia Rosett, FDD; David Drucker, WashingtonExaminer.com.

Interviews

Victor Davis Hanson on the Hugh Hewitt Show

via Hugh Hewitt Show
Tuesday, September 3, 2013

HH: All week long, we’ll be talking about the Authorization for the Use of Military Force, AUMF 2.0, proposed by the President. And one of the critics of t

Interviews

Victor Davis Hanson on the Don Kroah Show 29:07

via WAVA-AM Radio
Tuesday, September 3, 2013
In the News
In the News

Syria Enters 2016 as Rubio Pokes Paul, Clinton With Obama

with Kori Schakevia Bloomberg News
Wednesday, September 4, 2013

For Rand Paul, Marco Rubio and Hillary Clinton, the future of Syria is now intertwined with their own.

In the News

Conversations: Samuel Tadros

with Samuel Tadrosvia St. John's University (NY)
Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Last week, I reviewed a new book by the Hudson Institute's Samuel Tadros, Motherland Lost: The Egyptian and Coptic Quest for Modernity. The book, a compelling read, explores the profound challenges...