Britain’s rejection of taking action against the Syrian regime is a “complete humiliation” for President Barack Obama, syndicated columnist and Fox News commentator Charles Krauthammer said Thursday.
Obama has been in consultation with several heads of state, including British Prime Minister David Cameron, about a military strike against Syrian President Bashar Assad, who the government believes to have been behind the chemical weapons attack that killed hundreds near Damascus last week. A United Nations investigation has not made a determination.
“It is a complete humiliation for the Obama administration,” Krauthammer said on Fox News. “Forget about the merits of what Obama wants to do which I think it’s a bad idea. But let’s assume it’s a good idea. This involves the elementary conduct of international diplomacy, trying to get some allies aboard so you don’t act unilaterally.
“So who’s the main ally in the world who’s been with us in every trench for the last 100 years? The British. And now the British have voted against us,” Krauthammer continued. “The other supposed ally was the French, President Hollande, and now he’s saying we got to wait for the report from the U.N. inspectors which will be early next week.”
He pointed out that Democrats, including Obama, previously ridiculed the Bush administration for supposedly taking unilateral action in Iraq.
“So here is Obama and the Democrats who railed against the Bush administration for its supposedly unilateral invasion of Iraq where we had 48 allies for a mission that involved boots on the ground, a real invasion, a real war. And here’s Obama trying to gather an ally or two for a pinprick and he gets nothing.”
In his Washington Post column published earlier Thursday, Krauthammer said the Obama administration was being “shamed into action.”
“Want to send a message? Call Western Union. A Tomahawk missile is for killing. A serious instrument of war demands a serious purpose,” Krauthammer said, later adding, “Moreover, a mere punitive pinprick after which Assad emerges from the smoke intact and emboldened would demonstrate nothing but U.S. weakness and ineffectiveness.”
Watch Krauthammer on Fox News, via NewsBusters:
In his column, Krauthammer explained what in his view would be a better solution.
“Depriving Assad of his total control of the air and making resupply from Iran and Russia far more difficult would alter the course of the war. That is a serious purpose,” he wrote.
The White House has consulted Congress on the matter, including in a conference call between key administration officials such as Secretary of State John Kerry, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and National Security Adviser Susan Rice, with 15 members of the House and Senate, including leaders, chairs and ranking members of the germane committees.
Houser Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) this week sent a letter to Obama that was widely viewed as implied consent for action, while also a request that the administration provide more information to Congress. However, other members of Congress, on both sides of the aisle, have said the administration must have congressional authorization before taking action.
Krauthammer thought there should be a greater role from Congress.
“It’s rather shameful that while the British prime minister recalled Parliament to debate possible airstrikes — late Thursday, Parliament actually voted down British participation — Obama has made not a gesture in that direction,” Krauthammer wrote. “If you are going to do this, Mr. President, do it constitutionally. And seriously. This is not about you and your conscience. It’s about applying American power to do precisely what you now deny this is about — helping Assad go, as you told the world he must. Otherwise, just send Assad a text message. You might incur a roaming charge, but it’s still cheaper than a three-day, highly telegraphed, perfectly useless demonstration strike.”