The Obama doctrine’s crushing denouement in Syria

The Obama doctrine’s crushing denouement in Syria, Washington Examiner, December 16, 2016

(Please see also, Russian role in Aleppo’s fall impacts US politics. — DM)

syriaandobamaPresident Obama’s fecklessness emboldened not just Russia, but also Iran, whose combat troops continue to bolster Assad’s forces across Syria, as well as jihadists around the world. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

President Obama said this week that the civil war in Syria “is one of those things that has kept me up at night a lot.” On a previous occasion he said that the situation there “haunts me constantly.”

But for all the worry and consternation it supposedly evokes in him, Obama still insists he wouldn’t do things differently if he could.

If in the story of Obama’s Middle East policy, the war in Syria represents the dramatic climax, then the imminent fall of rebel-held eastern Aleppo and the humanitarian crisis unfolding there is its crushing denouement.

The Obama administration’s determination to prevent the U.S. from being drawn into more wars — and to “lead from behind” when it felt it was forced to engage, as in Libya — allowed terrorist groups such as the Islamic State and geopolitical rivals such as Russia to fill the vacuum.

Obama’s first mistake in Syria was his 2012 failure to follow through on enforcing a “red line” over dictator Bashar Assad’s use of chemical weapons. Obama’s inaction taught Assad that there would be no repercussions for his regime’s crimes.

Obama’s decision in 2013 not to back moderate groups in the armed opposition only reinforced that lesson. When Russia moved in last year to help Assad, Obama again did nothing.

Obama’s fecklessness emboldened not just Russia, but also Iran, whose combat troops continue to bolster Assad’s forces across Syria, as well as jihadists around the world. All of them quickly learned that they had little to fear in Obama.

Obama repeatedly rejected recommendations from his generals for tougher military response against Assad. Obama seems to be willing to pay almost any cost to find a diplomatic solution to Syria. He believes peace talks will somehow lead to a transition in which Assad gives up power. Obama has focused instead on the Islamic State, but even there the U.S. response has been confined to bombing and the deployment of a few U.S. Special Forces.

Secretary of State John Kerry has been working for months to negotiate a ceasefire between the Assad regime and opposition forces. But Assad has refused to comply with previous agreements, continuing to bomb rebel-held areas of Aleppo.

Obama isn’t the only one who’s in denial about how the war can be resolved. The State Department on Wednesday refused to acknowledge that U.S. policy and strategy failed to bring peace to Syria. Russia, Iran and the Assad regime were to blame, a State Department spokesman told reporters, for trying to find a military solution instead of a political one.

The war in Syria has taken the lives of 400,000 people and left another 11 million homeless. As many as 100,000 civilians remain trapped in Aleppo, potential victims of the regime’s revenge.

Obama’s failure to act decisively has left Syria devastated, much of the greater Middle East in chaos and Europe teeming with refugees. It has also left America less trusted and respected throughout the world. Obama’s dithering in Syria will be a black mark on his legacy.

Explore posts in the same categories: Assad, Obama and Iran, Obama and Russia, Obama and Syria

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One Comment on “The Obama doctrine’s crushing denouement in Syria”

  1. Richard L Rubenstein Says:

    Who’s side is President Obama on?


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