National Security

Syrian Refugees and the Consequences of Failed Leadership

As the Middle East implodes, Obama bears a lot of blame.

Paul Albaugh · Sep. 8, 2015
Syrian refugees in Budapest

We have long noted that Barack Obama’s foreign policy, specifically in regards to the Middle East, is completely inept. The current refugee crisis in Syria is a perfect example of what happens when the individual occupying the Oval Office doesn’t have a clue about responding to crises that develop overseas.

It’s worth recalling Obama’s involvement in all of this. To begin with, it became clear in the late summer months of 2012 that Obama had no idea how to handle Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad. He engaged in a political charade when he drew his supposed “red line” for Assad regarding the use of chemical weapons. Should Assad cross that line, the U.S. would act.

Except that when Assad did cross the so called “red line,” Obama did nothing of substance, and he never truly had any intention of doing so. Instead, when it became evident that Assad used chemical weapons against his own people, Obama’s response was to forge a deal for Assad to turn over all of his chemical weapons to Russia, which itself props up the Syrian thug. “Reset”!

There was indeed uncertainty on the best course for dealing with Assad and the rebel forces fighting his government. Some called for removing Assad forcibly from power, but the prospects for who would take his place raised warning flags. Some called for weakening his power and isolating him. Some called for airstrikes on key government infrastructure. Direct U.S. military intervention via boots on the ground was not an option. Obama chose arming bad guys who maybe aren’t as bad as the other bad guys.

He sought and gained congressional approval to train and equip some Syrian rebels, who were then supposed to liberate Syria from Assad’s oppression while simultaneously fighting terrorists from the Al-Nusra Front — an off shoot of al-Qaida — and eventually the Islamic State. According to the Pentagon, this strategy was an abject failure. Clearly, 54 U.S. trained Syrian rebels were not enough. The ones who weren’t kidnapped, killed or injured ran away.

Fast forward to today, and the situation in Syria and Iraq has metastasized beyond anything imaginable. Thousands of Christians have been persecuted, killed or displaced, while young girls have been raped and many have been forced to become sex slaves. Thousands of families have been torn apart and the region is as volatile as ever. It’s so bad in Syria that millions are fleeing the country.

Europe is now embroiled in a Middle Eastern refugee crisis. The Wall Street Journal notes that Germany is expected to take on 800,000 refugees this year, and even Britain has opened to taking on thousands. But, the Journal editors write, “This is what happens when the West abandons its responsibility to maintain world order.”

There is a big problem for Europe in taking on all of these refugees: Their economy can’t support the enormous financial burden. There have been calls for the U.S. to take in Syrian Christian refugees fleeing Islamic persecution. But despite Obama’s general open border policy, he has been silent on allowing Syrian Christians to enter. Standing by and doing nothing while all of this human suffering is going on is certainly not the answer.

When Obama chose to withdraw troops from Iraq and failed to deal with Syria, Europe did not fill the vacuum. Instead it was filled by the Islamic State, and Assad was basically left to tighten his vice grip on the territory he still controls. All of the human suffering going on in the region is a direct consequence of leading from behind. Obama appears to be okay with it though, and by all indications he will do nothing more than continue to order a handful of airstrikes.

But the situation with Syria, Iraq and the Islamic State cannot be dealt with by airstrikes alone. Not when you have Russia making moves to bolster its proxy Assad. Obama scoffed at Mitt Romney’s assessment of Russia as our number one geopolitical threat, but Romney was right.

According to Reuters, Russia is indeed making military moves inside of Syria, with requests of overflights, dispatching a military advance team, reports of building housing to accommodate up to 1,000 troops, and sources telling Reuters that Russia is showing signs of intervention in Syria “beyond its already robust military support role, which have included weapons and training.”

And so the situation could go from bad to worse. But this commander in chief is turning a blind eye to it all. God help us and the world if we don’t elect a president who can exemplify what leadership should be.

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