As the crisis in Syria continues to evolve day by day according to the whims of foreign diplomats and leaders, President Obama’s foreign policy has been under special scrutiny. Concerning the Syrian dilemma, Barack Obama has relayed a message to the American people and the global community at large that is rife with confusion and contradiction. But, amidst that confusion rests one coherent signal: the President is insisting on having it both ways in Syria.

Despite the jeering and deriding that now accompanies any mention of the name George W. Bush, the fact remains that the former president had a sound, singular, stated foreign policy. Whether one agrees or disagrees with Mr. Bush, it is indisputable that his rhetoric of aggressive, preemptive action matched his operations as commander-in-chief. When President Bush delivered his remarks that portrayed the Saddam Hussein regime as one unable to coexist with the United States, Mr. Bush carried out those words with the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Like it or not, his words matched his actions.

Lest we forget, it was George W. Bush’s foreign policy that resulted in the inauguration of Barack Obama in 2009. Standing opposed to what he viewed as a reckless foreign policy, Mr. Obama promoted a foreign policy centered on diplomacy and peace. Yet, with the continuation and proliferation of the contentious drone warfare program, many began to wonder if they had in fact signed on to a foreign policy defined by the status quo.

Now, facing an American public in firm opposition to military action against Syria, President Obama is adamant on having it both ways, exemplified in his address to the nation. On the one hand, he remains in fervent support of a military strike on Syria. Highlighting devastating imagery of dead children and grieving parents, Obama presented his case for action using strictly moral grounds. In essence, we are told to imagine that it was our own children who were killed with chemical weapons in August. In the face of such horror, the President insists that no moral person would fail to act. That Assad could get away with using these weapons against his own people is unthinkable to Mr. Obama, and deliberate action is both just and necessary.

But, there is always that other hand. After making this passionate case to the American people President Obama insisted that diplomacy is now the best option on the table. Seizing upon Secretary Kerry’s off-the-cuff remarks at a press conference in London, Putin has now agreed to help take Syria’s chemical weapons under international control. With this in mind, the President has tabled military action and is in full pursuit of diplomacy. Yet the process to locate Syria’s chemical weapons facilities is by no means simple, and could require many months to accomplish even if Syria was not in the middle of a brutal civil war.

Both cases, the case for military strikes and the case for diplomacy have been made at the same time to the American public. While it is not a surprise that this might be confusing on its face, it becomes worse upon further examination. Regarding military strikes, the President invites contradiction when he speaks about ‘moral responsibility’ and chemical weapons in the same sentence. After all, 100,000 Syrians have died in the civil war, and only a small fraction of that number can be attributed to chemical weapons. Did we not have a moral responsibility to intervene before chemical weapons were used?

In addition, concerning diplomacy, the President talks about the current plans of action on the table as if they will be over and done with before the week’s end. In reality, securing chemical weapons is not an easy affair to begin with, and this is assuming that Assad has not hidden weapons already. Moreover, Defense Department estimates suggest that tens of thousands of troops may be required to carry out this mission to secure chemical weapons in Syria. Suddenly, troops will be on the ground in Syria to execute an international mandate, and there is not a clever person reading this who thinks those troops will be anything but American.

As much as people may gripe about former president George W. Bush, his consistency is now surely missed. When a commander-in-chief attempts to have it both ways on a matter as grave as Syria, it appears as though his own mind is uncertain. Now that the President has described the positions involving Syria, he ought to take a position on the matter.