Whether President Obama or Republicants get blamed for the partial shutdown of the federal government remains to be seen. But one positive outcome for the President can already be attributed to the shutdown, it has distracted the American public from the embarrassment that is the Obama administration's foreign policy blunders in the Middle East in general and Syria specifically. The Obama shutdown has almost completely erased Syria as an issue from the public discourse in this country, at least as it relates to the main stream media.
It is hard to believe that it was less than two months ago that Bashar Al Assad was accused of the most heinous and despicable crime of using poisonous gas on his own people in a suburb outside Damascus, killing over a thousand people. At the time, Mr. Assad was roundly accused by the "world community" of being a monster, even though in the two years prior to the August 21st attack he was responsible for over one hundred thousand deaths of his countrymen. But those deaths by conventional weapons did not seem to trouble the world community or our very own president. In fact, President Obama drew his "red line", not at the slaughter of innocent men, women and children in the tens of thousands, but at the use of chemical weapons. This "red line", if crossed, would necessitate U.S. military involvement in the conflict.
After Bashar Al Assad boldly leaped over the "red line" and landed squarely on President Obama's words, it appeared the Syrian leader's days were indeed numbered. Mr. Obama and the rest of the intellectual elites at the United Nations maintained that Bashar must be punished by being removed as Syria's ruler. Then the Russians rescued both Bashar Al Assad as the Syrian people's chief tormentor and Barack Obama's impotence as a "red line" enforcer. This Russian "help" transformed Bashar Al Assad from murderous tyrant to the world's lead diplomat in ridding it of chemical weapons. And the United States and its President have been relegated to spectator of world events instead of a major participant in shaping them.
If Bashar Al Assad ordered the use of chemical weapons by his military on August 21st, it was a brilliant strategy to involve the Russians in negotiating the destruction of those weapons, thereby distracting the "world community" from removing him as Syria's leader. If the Al Qaeda-lead rebels used the chemical weapons to put the final "red" nail in the coffin of Bashar Al Assad, they committed one of the biggest blunders in history. For the "red line", far from being a swan song for the Assad regime has been its triumphant march to securing the leadership of Syria and a more influential hand in the Middle East.