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"You Can't Have One Without the Other"

In its lead editorial on Christmas eve, the Washington Post finds it "astonishing" that President Obama, in a speech of 20 December, mentioned Syria as one of his foreign policy achievements, in that the regime has had to give up its chemical weapons.

I find it astonishing - and enraging - that a reputable and a leading American newspaper does not recognize the fact that, in turning the decision to attack Syria over to the U.S. Congress, he avoided yet another military intervention in the Muslim world, after Afghanistan and Iraq. As the old song goes, "Love and marriage go together like a horse and carriage/You can't have one without the other." You couldn't end the humanitarian crisis in Syria without attacking the country.

The fact is that there was more support among the American public for not getting involved in another military intervention in the region than for taking drastic action aimed at ending the humanitarian crisis in Syria.

The question is, why does most of the American and foreign press paint this event as reflection of Obama's weakness rather than his adaptability. Though Obama was too literal, to put it mildly, in his earlier statements that Bashar al-Assad had to go and that the use of chemical weapons constituted a red line, he was able skillfully to get out of these statements by turning the problem over to the Congress, i.e. the people.

Perhaps the voice of a grateful people will be heard as the voters tote up the balance sheet of the Obama presidency in deciding how to cast their ballot in the 2014 mid-term elections.