One minute we were just waiting for the bombs to drop on Syria.  The next we were listening to the President tell us why it was a good idea—but never mind!

What in the heck happened?

The American people rose up, that’s what happened.  They called their representatives in Congress and told them, in no uncertain terms, No!  It wasn’t organized—or, at least, it wasn’t all that organized.  And it certainly wasn’t supported or anticipated by the “mainstream” news media: Indeed, these war mavens, who never met an “humanitarian” intervention they could oppose, were insistent on the absolute necessity of following Dear Leader into this latest folly—in the name of avenging “the children,” of course.

For months the Syrian “opposition”—a motley collection of Al Qaeda fanatics, ex-Ba’athist officers, and ordinary thugs—had been warning of an imminent “atrocity” on the part of Bashar al-Assad’s regime.  Hoping to provoke U.S. intervention, they conceived a number of unimaginative hoaxes, based on YouTube footage and supposedly firsthand accounts, all about as credible as the rebels’ claims of “secular” allegiance.  When this didn’t work, they resorted to threats, with one rebel “commander” openly declaring that the United States would one day regret it.

Finally, they hit pay dirt: Under circumstances that remain unclear, on August 21, someone launched a fusillade of rockets containing sarin gas at the village of Ghou­ta, right outside Damascus.  Estimates of the dead range from 350 to 1,400 or so.  As for who did it—well, we still don’t know for sure, although the U.N. report implicates the Assad regime indirectly.  Reports of a “rogue” commander, acting against orders, appeared in the media, as well as indications that the rebels, too, have access to sarin.  Evidence the rebels launched sarin-gas attacks in Aleppo and another location have so far been studiously ignored.

The Obama administration, however, wasn’t waiting for confirmation: They knew who did it, and they knew what had to be done.  Bombs away!

As the English-speaking media—and their newfound compadres over at Al Jazeera, the new U.S. network owned by the emir of Qatar—waited breathlessly for some good ol’ “shock and awe,” ordinary Americans seethed.  Were we about to enter yet another Middle Eastern quagmire?  As the Washington know-it-alls blathered on about “the intelligence,” people sitting around their kitchen tables recalled the last time they were told the intelligence was a “slam dunk”—and they picked up their phones.  What started out as a rivulet of protest among a few libertarian Republicans in Congress—notably Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI)—soon turned into a tsunami, overwhelming congressional phone lines.

The War Party mobilized, however, and the media was soon parroting the administration line: If we don’t attack, we’ll lose “credibility,” they whined.  If we fail in our duty to humanity, the Bad Guys will get the wrong message!  And what about “the children”?  The Senate Foreign Relations Committee posted the rebel YouTube videos purportedly showing dead children lined up in a row.  The news networks broadcast footage of this atrocity 24/7, lining up “analysts” who dutifully repeated the War Party’s talking points.  The President and his minions did dozens of interviews, which were beamed mercilessly at recalcitrant Americans, but the propaganda campaign blew up in their faces.  While polls had previously shown Americans opposed to the intervention about 60/40, after this nearly unprecedented campaign the same polls showed a remarkable shift—to nearly 80 percent against.  The more these people opened their mouths, the more they were disbelieved and their arguments discounted.

It was a stunning repudiation of the political class, and yet still they counted on President Obama to do what every chief executive since Truman has done: ignore the proles and unsheathe the sword.  When he went on television to address the American people, that’s precisely what everyone—myself included—expected.  After reiterating the case for intervention, however, the President did a backward somersault and announced he would seek authorization from Congress before unleashing the dogs of war.

A transformation occurred, as the most numerous and vocal of the antiwar politicians turned out to be members of the GOP.  And it wasn’t just Senator Paul and Representative Amash: Reliably warmongering fools such as Sen. Ted Cruz and even Mitch McConnell came out against war, while the two friends of promiscuous interventionism—Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham—found themselves isolated by the “wacko birds,” as McCain had dubbed them.  The Republican rank and file reflected the opinions of their leaders in their overwhelming opposition to this latest militarist scheme.  Better a wacko bird than a war bird.

Democrats whose first instinct was to support the President drew back from the brink.  One after another, they announced their opposition.  The White House vote-counters saw the handwriting on the wall, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid delayed the vote, while Speaker John Boehner, the Ohio RINO, put the House vote off for two solid weeks.  Hardly a day passed without another member of Congress coming out against the Syria strike.  The penultimate blow was struck when Parliament rejected Prime Minister Cameron’s call to join their American coimperialists in pouncing on Syria: The United States would have to go it alone.

It was then that an unlikely savior appeared in the person of Russian President Vladimir Putin.  Acting on an offhand remark by our bloviating fool of a secretary of state, the Russians got the Syrian government to agree to give up its chemical weapons.  And the administration, facing the prospect of an humiliating loss in Congress, jumped at the opportunity.

The war was over before it had even begun.

Ron Paul says this augurs a “sea change” in the politics of foreign policy, and I’m inclined to agree with him—while retaining my natural skepticism.  The War Party is hardly ready to give up.  Track One of the Syrian regime-change operation—an outright U.S. assault on Assad’s regime—is off the table, at least for the moment, but Track Two—the funding of Al Qaeda affiliates masquerading as “moderates” fighting to oust the Ba’athists—is still on.  Indeed, one day before writing this, I read that the President had issued a “waiver” that allows him to send aid to groups in Syria that may be terrorist.  So the Syrian civil war grinds on, with the rebels and their American amen corner relentlessly trying to drag us in.  The good news, however, is that they will have a much harder time doing it—in Syria, or anywhere else.