"Do or Do not. There is no try."

“Shocked And Awed”: Media Outlets Spitting Mad At President Obama For Spoiling Their Plans To Cash In On War

Following the President’ surprise announcement that he would seek the advice and consent of Congress before launching an attack on Syria, it seemed that no matter where you landed on the cable news dial everyone was in a state of upset.

With visions of TV screens filled with ‘shock and awe’ dancing in their heads along with the blessed promise of the ratings that follow the hysteria of war—not to mention a sublime ending to the slow news agonies of August that dogs all news show production staffs, writers and broadcasters (trust me,I know)—Obama had held out the football for Charlie Brown to kick and then pulled it away at the last minute.

And the media was pissed.

Some focused on their having been misled by the speech given by Secretary of State John Kerry—a speech that appeared to be the final case for war in Syria and a warning to the media to get reporting staff into the region because of what was coming. So angry was the media at this bit of perceived misdirection, many suggested that Kerry would now have to resign his post in embarrassment.

It was as if the media was demanding someone’s blood for the crime of having spoiled their plans for war and Kerry was the likely choice.

So the boss changed his mind at the last minute. It happens. It not only has happened to me, it has probably happened to just about everyone reading this column.  It can be embarrassing but you get past it and remind yourself that you won’t do it when you get to be the boss…although you probably will.

But if the media was going to be denied their war opportunities, they expected that the Administration make good by throwing out a sacrificial lamb to fill a few news cycles for them. It was the least that Obama could do, right?

And then there were the pundits appearing on networks representing all sides of the political spectrum—including those who claim to play it ‘down the middle’—who took to the airwaves to angrily argue that the President’s backing off an attack pending Congressional approval would weaken America in the eyes of the world.


With the largest military on the planet and a defense budget larger than the next top eleven countries combined, could anyone really believe that the world’s leaders now view the United States as a weakened force on the world stage because of a delay in going forward with a lesson-teaching attack on Syria?

If failure to launch a few missiles on some prescribed schedule—a schedule that appeared to be primarily driven by the media—means that the U.S. is now a ‘weakened nation’, it should conversely stand to reason that when the U.S. moves forward with an attack, as we did in Libya, the opposite should occur.

And yet, our actions in Libya—not to mention Iraq and Afghanistan—certainly did not cause Bashir Assad and his government to seriously consider our daring and bravado when deciding to gas innocent children to death in the middle of the night, now did it? And where were the compliments from the same pundits now screaming bloody murder when Obama engaged in a bit of regime-change in Libya? Apparently, they were too busy criticizing the President for “leading from behind” in Libya to note that there could have been no Libyan action without the United States—something that, if we are to believe these critics now, should have greatly strengthened our position on the world stage and stopped Assad from doing something that could lead to intervention by the United States.

The fact that nations do not make decisions based on another country’s nuanced track record versus the realities of a given situation should come as a surprise to absolutely no one. In the real world, leaders of nations know far better than to make their plans based on what the United States may have done in the past and know full well that they cannot rely on past American war decisions to either protect them or inspire them when it comes to what we might choose to do in the future.

We live in a time where some sort of international crisis occurs on a fairly regular basis and our reaction to those events can always be expected to vary depending on circumstances. How we reacted in Libya is very different than how we are reacting in Syria. How we reacted during the Iranian uprising in 2011 was very different than how we reacted to what occurred in Libya.

Accordingly, what world leader would be so profoundly stupid as to presume that the United States can be counted on to react in the very same way each and every time because of what we may have done during the last crisis? We don’t do that. Nobody does. And pretending that a decision pertaining to Syria will have some huge impact on what we might do during the next international crisis is nothing short of preposterous.

And then there are those who go on and on about the terrible message the President’s decision is sending to allies like Israel and enemies like Iran.

Apparently, those who have taken this line of criticism believe that neither of these governments are capable of grasping the reality that the United States—like all nations— can only be counted upon to act based on what we perceive to be in our best interests—interests that may be very different when it involves Iran than how we perceive our interest, or lack thereof, in Syria.

Do you really imagine that the Mullahs are now presuming that they have some green light to do as they please in the belief that the United States is just some paper tiger because we might elect to leave the Syrian situation alone? Do you actually suspect that Israel will base their expectations on what we might do should they elect to move against Iran on the same factors we are considering with respect to Syria—or any other decision we have taken in the past that is wholly irrelevant to the circumstances that would be at work should Israel choose such a course of action?

Still, none of this logic has been of any importance to the talking heads and show hosts who cannot seem to get past their anger over Obama’s spoiling their fun—not to mention embarrassing them for being flat out wrong about our pending attack on Syria.

In reality, there are two things that are driving the response to Obama’s “surprise” Syrian move—ratings and politics.

If you imagine, even for a moment, that both Republicans and Democrats are not crafting their response to the President’s decision with the elections of 2014 and 2016 firmly in mind—with the exception of Rand Paul who can’t possibly believe that his being supportive of the Assad regime is somehow good for his presidential bid—I have a frozen tundra in Siberia I’d like to sell you.

And if you imagine that the news outlets are not furious at the President for being a buzzkill during a month where ratings and newspaper sales are hard to come by, and are acting out in response to this anger, I’m afraid I’m going to have to double the asking price for that Siberian resort.

Nothing drives interest in news and politicians like an apparent crisis. Accordingly, expect both the media and the politicians to make the most out of it. But if you are actually forming your own point of view based on the illogical and emotional responses of either, you are doing yourself a great disservice.

If you think our interests are best served by lobbing missiles into Syria or taking an even more active role in their civil war, then you should feel free to criticize this president for not acting in accordance with your wishes. If you believe that this is not a fight that we should engage in, call your Congressional Representatives and tell them to vote against supporting Obama’s war plans.

But if you are forming these opinions based on the self-interest of the media or the politicians, you might wish to rethink your position based on reality as neither the media nor the politicians are fulfilling their responsibility to give you measured analysis designed to assist you in forming your own perspectives.


By: Rick Ungar, Op-Ed Contributor, Forbes, September 2, 2013

September 3, 2013 Posted by | Media, Syria | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


%d bloggers like this: