President Barack Obama can’t convince his own wife that the United States should punish Syria’s dictator for poisoning more than 1,000 men, women and children.
“If you ask Michelle, ‘Do we do we want to be involved in another war?’ The answer is no,” he told a NBC interviewer Monday afternoon, just a few days after declaring that the nation’s security depended on a firm response to Syrian despot Bashar al-Assad’s alleged chemical weapon attack on a Damascus suburb last month.
Obama’s confession of weakness is not likely to help him win his life-or-death standoff with Assad, who has rallied his troops in a brutal war against murderous al-Qaida affiliated jihadis and prisoner-killing “moderate” rebels. In the male-dominated Middle East, women are widely regarded as weak, have a minimal role in politics, and are expected to be dominated by their husbands and fathers.
It also won’t help Obama face down Syria’s chief ally, Russian president Vladimir Putin. Putin is a former KGB secret-police agent who divorced his wife of 30 years in June. The couple had two children, and the marriage was reportedly strained by Putin’s affairs with several women.
Obama has already failed to persuade a majority of his political allies in Congress to back the strike plan. He has had even less success in persuading skeptical Republicans to trust his determination and judgement.
In the NBC interview, Obama also sent more signals to Putin and Assad that he may fold if Congress won’t back his plan.
“It’s my belief that for me, the president, to act without consensus in a situation where there’s not a direct, imminent threat to the homeland or our interests around the world, that that’s not the kind of precedent I want to set,” he said.
Obama also underlined his own reluctance to continue the high-stakes clash by welcoming a Monday proposal from Putin that would cancel the planned U.S. strike in exchange for placing Syria’s chemical-weapons under international supervision to prevent their further use.
“I fervently hope that this can be resolved in a non-military way,” Obama told a Fox News interviewer on Monday.