A solid speech by President Obama to the United Nations General Assembly this morning, chiefly in its doctrinal reinforcements of U.S. internationalism and multilateralism.
It was evident that the latter's absence in the Syrian crisis both rattled Obama and righted his course. Not again, the president seemed to say. Not again will you, the self-enfeebled "international community," bemoan the horrors of some murderous tyrant and then call for action, but leave the U.S. out on a limb. Obama is done with that.
In somewhat more diplomatic terms, he made that clear this morning: If the world wishes to rid itself of its bloody Bashar al-Assads--as indeed the world should wish--then it must join the U.S. in deed as well as spirit. "There must be a strong Security Council resolution to verify that the Assad regime is keeping its commitments,' said Obama. And "there must be consequences"--imposed collectively--"if they fail to do so."
Obama's clear implication was that his re-entrenched doctrine of multilateralism won't stop at Assad's borders; it shall apply to all conflicts in the world, although, of course, the U.S. reserves the unilateral right to "use all elements of [its] power" to protect its vital interests. That--vital U.S. interests--is what the Syrian crisis lacked ... and therefore left Obama's position, in the haunting description of Gen. Barry McCaffrey, "muddled" and "confused."
Never again. Obama made that clear.