Barack Obama’s delusions of grandeur: compares Syria intervention to fighting World War Two
By Nile Gardiner World Last updated: September 8th, 2013
A key part of President Obama’s press conference in St. Petersburg last Friday went largely under the radar in the US media – his bizarre analogy between the crisis in Syria, and the London Blitz. Obama attempted to draw a comparison between America’s hesitancy to enter World War Two in 1940 and 1941, to widespread scepticism over a military intervention in Syria over 70 years later. As the president put it:
Those kinds of interventions, these kinds of actions are always unpopular, because they seem distant and removed.
And I want to make sure I’m being clear. I’m not — I’m not drawing an analogy to World War II, other than to say when London was getting bombed, it was profoundly unpopular, both in Congress and around the country, to help the British.
It doesn’t mean it wasn’t the right thing to do. It just means people, you know, are struggling with jobs and bills to pay, and they don’t want their sons or daughters put in harm’s way. And these entanglements far away are dangerous and different.
In essence, the point Obama is trying to make is that a failure by Congress or the American people to support his Syria plan is the equivalent of the United States’ refusal to enter the conflict in Europe in the early years of World War Two. To say the least, this is a ludicrous assertion, one that smacks of sheer desperation as public and Congressional opposition mounts to a Syria intervention. According to The Washington Post’s calculations, in the House of Representatives a mere 25 Members support strikes against Syria, compared to 226 who are “against military action” or “lean no.” (Only 217 House Members are needed to defeat a resolution.) At the same time, the latest RealClear Politics poll of polls shows overwhelming public opposition to US strikes, with opponents of military action outnumbering supporters by more than 20 percentage points. In The Economist/You Gov poll, that margin rises to 37 percent, with just 20 percent of Americans backing the president’s position.
Barack Obama’s comparison of the civil war in Syria with World War Two is one of the most ridiculous assertions by a US president in recent times. Great Britain during the Blitz was fighting for its very survival, as Hitler’s armies swept across Europe and Nazi bombers bombarded British cities. The spectre of fascism threatened to engulf an entire continent, with more than a hundred million people already under the boot of Nazi German occupation. The United States had a fundamental national interest in helping halt Hitler’s drive for domination, but unfortunately chose not to get involved militarily until its declaration of war upon Germany following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941.
To compare short-sighted American isolationism in the early 1940s to deep-seated, principled opposition today to a Syria intervention, trivialises the Second World War, simplifies the complexity of the Syrian civil war, and is insulting to the huge number of Americans who don’t agree with the White House’s stance on Syria. Britain in 1940, the mother country of the United States, is hardly Syria in 2013, and to suggest this is the case is mind-boggling. And to argue that firing a few cruise missiles as a shot “across the bow” against a dictator in the Middle East is the same thing as sending millions of combat troops across the Atlantic to liberate almost an entire continent is simply pathetic. And the president and his Secretary of State, John Kerry, have a shameful track record of appeasement of the Syrian regime that makes a mockery of their drive for war today.
President Obama is clearly suffering from delusions of grandeur on the Syrian front. He imagines himself as a war leader in the mould of Franklin D. Roosevelt, but in reality he is the weakest US Commander in Chief since Jimmy Carter. On Syria, Barack Obama is heading for a heavy defeat in Congress, and is opposed by most Americans. This is hardly a mandate for jumping into Syria’s civil war and putting the lives of American servicemen and women at risk.