Does the American public's rejection of the prospect of military action in Syria herald a sea change in US foreign policy?
After describing the Obama administration's series of missteps in selling their plan for the use of force in Syria, Michael Cohen notes the one positive feature of the whole mess that may be emerging:
It is an extraordinary turn of events and one that goes so strongly against the currents of recent history that it may come to represent a sea change, not just in how the US employs military force in the future but in the very construct of American foreign policy. No longer, it appears are Americans and Congress willing to give the commander-in-chief a virtual blank cheque....Not to discount the potential power of President Obama's persuasive rhetoric when he mounts his media campaign on Tuesday, but it will be a tremendous uphill climb for him.
Yet, for all the short-term political fallout, the apparent train wreck on Syria might be the best thing to happen in American politics in a long time.
Since 11 September 2001, armchair generals (inside and outside government) have planned one military engagement after another and confidently predicted success – and then dodged accountability after repeated failures. The result has been quagmire after quagmire, trillions of dollars in costs and tens of thousands of dead and maimed Americans.
Those chickens have come home to roost. No matter how defensible the plan for military action in Syria might be; no matter how strong the impulse to punish the use of long-banned weapons; no matter how many assertions of limited engagement are made, Americans and their representatives in Congress appear finally resistant to buying the war-makers' tonic (some might say 10 years too late).
The desire of America's foreign policy elite to continue to demand that the US remain the indispensable nation and the world's policeman has come face to face with a public tired of war and tired of foreign policy failure. And the American people look poised to win this round.
In this age of social media, where people can talk back to elite opinion and make themselves heard, where they can hear each other over the din of corporate and insider media propaganda, you have to wonder if their old tricks willl ever work for them again.