At the outset, let's agree that Syria is such a mess that Henry Kissinger couldn't make a credible strike against Syria for using chemical weapons - if it was Assad. Barack Obama's problem is that he came to the Presidency with no experience in government, no credibility. In the Near East, he's already shown himself lacking in credibility when he proclaimed the United States against settlements and Netanyahu continued the settlements without cost. Then he showed his lack of credibility by announcing that he was for the Palestinians to have a state but vetoing the Palestinian's initiative for a state in the United Nations. Now the President loses credibility in the Mid-East by continuing to support the military after it's coup in Cairo - which I agree with.
Generally, we've destroyed our credibility in the Mid-East by proving Osama Bin Laden's case. Osama Bin Laden was a successful contractor in Saudi Arabia but he complained that the United States' support of Israel was "a Second Crusade against the Muslim world." He made so much trouble that they sent him to Yemen and after making trouble there he went to the Afghanistan border with Pakistan to train his terrorists. Bin Laden participated in the blowing up of Air Force barracks in Saudi Arabia - but we didn't listen. He helped blow up the Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania - but we didn't listen. Then, he blew up the USS Cole killing 21 sailors and we still didn't listen. We knew Osama Bin Laden was responsible the entire time but did nothing. Then, on 9/11 we listened - going after Bin Laden and missing him at Tora Bora when he escaped to Pakistan.
President Bush created the war against terror and the war in Afghanistan when Afghanistan was not hostile to the United States. When we freed Afghanistan from the Russians, Charlie Wilson told us: "Afghans don't like foreigners and Afghanistan is run by the warlords"; Russians were the foreigners earlier and we are the foreigners now. We lost our credibility in Afghanistan and Iraq and continue to prove Osama Bin Laden's case with troops in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, Egypt, Turkey, The Sinai, Persian Gulf, Afghanistan and drone strikes against Muslims in Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen. Drone strikes have killed more women, children and innocent bystanders than chemical strikes in Syria.
President Obama tried to compensate for his lack of experience or credibility by failing to govern and constantly campaigning his first four years. He covered his lack of never having on a uniform by reminding everyone that he was Commander in Chief and he stepped up the war in both Afghanistan and Iraq. His Jobs Bill with federal aid for policemen, firemen and teachers was an embarrassment and he refused to compete in globalization by enforcing the laws against predatory practices. A constant deficit of $12 billion a month in motor vehicle trade put General Motors and Detroit into bankruptcy. The recession was over a few months after President Obama took office but he continued to cut taxes, engage in wars, adding prescription drugs to Medicare, stimulating and bailing out, all without paying for them. The United States paid for all its wars, depressions, recessions, and only reached $1 trillion national debt after 200 years in 1981. President Obama added $5 trillion to the national debt in four years. An interest cost on the national debt is almost $450 billion and with interest costs rising, we will soon be paying $1 trillion for nothing. This can't and shouldn't continue for another three years.
President Obama can create jobs, pay for government and recoup his credibility by replacing the 35 percent Corporate Tax with a 7 percent Value Added Tax. Last year's Corporate Tax produced revenues of $236.8 billion. A 7 percent VAT for 2012 would have produce $922 billion. This permits a balanced budget in two years rather than ten and immediately releases $2 trillion in offshore profits for Corporate America to repatriate tax free, create millions of jobs and restart the economy. Then the President must protect Corporate America's investment by enforcing trade laws against predatory practices. I've suggested this numerous times to my friend Joe Biden but apparently he can't get past Valerie Jarrett.
Senator Hollings of South Carolina served 38 years in the United States Senate, and for many years was Chairman of the Commerce, Space, Science & Transportation Committee. He is the author of "Making Government Work" (University of South Carolina Press, 2008). You can learn more about Hollings online at www.FritzHollings.com.