The President’s Syria Speech: A Study in Cognitive Dissonance

Written by Allan Erickson on September 11, 2013

He didn’t say it flat, out but the implication was clear enough: according to Obama, if you oppose his plan to strike Syria, you really don’t give a damn about gassed children writhing in pain.

I wonder if Mr. Obama cares about abortion survivors writhing in pain as they die a slower and more painful death.   By the logic, shouldn’t we be shooting missiles at every Planned Parenthood clinic, “God bless ‘em,” in our President’s words.

So much of this man’s thinking can only be labeled cognitive dissonance.

Tonight in his speech to the nation, he calmly articulated contradictory points of view, holding them in simultaneous suspension, as he condescended to explain to all the lowly worms the complexities of the modern world.

He asserted one does not remove a dictator by force because that leaves us responsible for the consequences.   “We should have learned that in Iraq,” he scolded.

May I ask about his use of force in Libya, and the consequences, such as Benghazi, and the loss of 20,000 shoulder-fired missiles?  May I ask about Libya now serving primarily as a training camp for terrorists?  Why then, Mr. Obama, did you remove that dictator with force, remaining unconcerned about those consequences?

Oh, and by the way, isn’t it true, Mr. President, that weapons unleashed in Libya thanks to your use of force, found their way into Syria, increasing violence throughout the country, helping bring us to this Syrian death trap?

Let’s not even get started on Egypt.  Obama toppling a dictator there, by force, sure has delivered up a full menu of “consequences.”    One does not remove a dictator by force?!

Mr. Obama later explained we should not be the world’s policeman, he does not want us to be, but we are, and have been for 70 years, so get used to it, and if we don’t strike we’ll lose the fear factor.  What!?  This passage alone out squirrels the squirrels.

Otherwise, Obama tells us:  “I will not put American boots on the ground in Syria.”  Why then does the bill to authorize force include a provision for boots on the ground?  Isn’t it true that any strike resulting in a degradation of Assad’s military renders him more vulnerable to an Al Qaeda victory?  Whose boots will be on the ground given that consequence?Russian boots?  Or only Al Qaeda boots.  Certainly not Syrian Christian boots.

Mr. Obama, what about atrocities against Christians?  You’ve not said one word about those heinous crimes.  Al Qaeda is beheading Christians all over the place.  Isn’t that a violation of some kind of rule of war, Mr. Obama?  What say we strike Assad and Al Qaeda at the same time?  But that would no longer be a “small” matter, as Mr. Kerry would say.

Obama went on to say, after reminding us again and again of writhing children foaming at the mouth, that he has suspended the vote in Congress, a vote that is only a courtesy in his view, since he has the authority to strike unilaterally, in his view, a suspension warranted by the Putin Plan.

Putin suggests he step in and offer to take Assad’s chemical weapons so as to defuse the planned bombing. Kerry said it was originally his idea, but he told Obama and Putin it would never work.  Still, Obama is going with it, but keeping our military on heightened alert as most of our Navy bobs about in the Mediterranean.   Talk about all over the map.

How about we have a straw poll in Congress just to see if the symbolic vote has wings and then decide on the Putin Plan that will never work?  (Is your head spinning yet?)

Further on the President asserted if we don’t strike, Al Qaeda will benefit.  Really?  How?  Obama did not fill in those blanks, but he did admit that two years of warnings, sanctions, diplomacy and other measures in Syria have failed.  (Never mind that is precisely our posture with the direct threat to U.S. Security – Iran – and the result so far the same: failure.)

Cognitive dissonance strikes even deeper.

Through all this “our cause is plainly just,” and if we do not use force against this dictator, one who gasses his own people, then “our ideals and principles are at stake,” explained the President.

Why then did you oppose the 2003 invasion of Iraq that was fully authorized and support by a coalition of about 30 countries, an invasion to remove a dictator who gassed his own people including thousands and thousands of Iranians?

I still don’t understand how our principles are at stake if we don’t shoot a few missiles at Assad’s bases, risking the release of Sarin gas, and I doubt I ever will.  I guess our non-existent resolve will become infirm and only Tomahawks can firm us up.

Finally, don’t forget, Obama suggested we all watch the video of writhing children to convince us we should agree with him that attacking Syria is an act supportive of our principles, but not an act of war, regardless of the consequences.

Image: P041410PS-0298; uploaded by Ekabhishek; author: The White House from Washington, DC; public domain

Allan Erickson
Allan Erickson---Christian, husband, father, journalist, businessman, screenwriter and author of The Cross & the Constitution in the Age of Incoherence, Tate Publishing, 2012, serves on the board of He is available to speak in churches addressing the topics of faith and freedom. Register & Vote! Contact: