President Obama hopes of using the “Wag the Dog” strategy of starting a small war in Syria to divert attention from collapsing re-election prospects just got a lot more complicated as Syria successfully just shot down a Turkish Air Force American made F-4E 2020 reconnaissance plane with a Russian made and most likely operated SA-5 surface-to-air-missile. Given the plane was hit while flying extremely low and fast less than a mile off the Syrian coast, it seems obvious the plane was spying on coastal defenses. The loss of a front line NATO war plane prior to hostilities being officially declared, demonstrates the Syrian regime of Bashar al Assad and his Russian allies are “locked and loaded” to demonstrate they will not be intimidated by President Obama.
President Bill Clinton successfully pioneered the Wag the Dog strategy in a 1997 NATO bombing campaign of Yugoslavia to distracted public outrage from the Monica Lewinsky scandal. President Obama had hoped to follow Clinton’s play-book of funding an escalating Syrian rebellion, convince NATO to declare a humanitarian emergency and then send in the U.S. Air Force to bomb the supposed offender for the nightly news.
Politically, the last month has been a disaster for Obama’s re-election campaign, with the latest Rasmussen election poll showing him now 5 percentage points down to Mitt Romney and falling fast. Under vicious attack from his own base since the start of the year for not upholding their liberal progressive ideals, the President has been forced to triangulate away from ingratiating the Wall Street and big business financial interests who so mightily funded his last campaign. Obama’s highly visible embrace of the divisive issues of abortion rights, gay marriage and immigration amnesty cooled the ire of his base, but also turned off Catholics and soccer moms. As his re-election fortunes have tumbled, Obama has ratcheted up his justification for a U.S. intervention in Syria.
The shooting down of the NATO member jet comes two days after we published “The Arab Spring Turns to Winter”, to detail how the Obama Administration and Saudi Arabia were funneling weapons and foreign jihadi warriors into Syria to bolster the rebellion. Yesterday, the New York Times followed with a report that Central Intelligence Agency agents in Turkey are handling the logistics for trans-shipment of heavy weapons to the rebels. Our report also warned Hezbollah, Syria and Iran’s ally, is actively trying to destabilize the rebels’ supply lines in Northern Lebanon, and Russia has sent a naval task force that includes an aircraft carrier, helicopter gunships, and marines to demonstrate Russia’s willingness to protect their Syrian port at Tartus.
The President had hoped that Syrian adventure would play-out in a similar manner as ousting Colonel Gadhafi from Libya. But in Libya the eastern half of the country was able to throw out the Libyan army in the first days of the rebellion. By the time NATO declared its humanitarian no-fly zone, the Libyan anti-aircraft system’s over-lapping fields-of-fire was compromised and NATO planes faced only modest ground defenses.
No such luxury will be experienced in Syria since after a year of turmoil the rebels have not been able take any cities as a base of operations. During this period, the Syrians have been resupplied with the most sophisticated anti-aircraft systems their Russian benefactors have to offer. According to a June 15 article in The New York Times, Syria has acquired Pantsyr-S1 and Buk-M2 anti-aircraft missiles that are known to be highly effective against air or sea attacks. Plus in recent years, Syria had already been spending $500 million a year on competitive Russian weapons. Brig. Gen. Itay Baron, head of the Israel Defense Force Military Intelligence Research Department stated that together Syria and Iran have approximately 3,500 missiles and Hezbollah has about 60,000 rockets and missiles aimed at Israel; 10 times more than Israel faced in 2006.
Desperate to move the needle of public opinion back in his favor, President Obama now finds himself in a risky trap of his own making. If he backs off of support for the Syrian rebels, he risks being seen as cowering when facing a united strength of Syria, Iran, Russia and Hezbollah. If he boldly charges forward, he risks sparking a full scale war against enemies who know how to fight and will kill.
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