Nate Jackson / Nov. 23, 2015

Moscow to Obama: Assad Stays

It’s no wonder Barack Obama prefers bullying Republicans.

It’s no wonder Barack Obama prefers bullying Republicans — he often wins. When it comes to Russia, on the other hand, America’s feckless commander in chief isn’t exactly getting his way. The current disagreement is over whether Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad can stay or has to go prior to focusing on defeating the Islamic State. Obama says he has to go; Moscow says he stays. “It is not conceivable that Mr. Assad can regain legitimacy in a country in which a large majority of that country despises Assad, and will not stop fighting so long as he’s in power,” Obama said. “Russia has not officially committed to a transition of Assad moving out but they did agree to a political transition process. And I think we’ll find out over the next several weeks whether or not we can bring about that change in perspective with the Russians.”

Meanwhile, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev — whom Obama famously told he’d have more “flexibility” after his re-election in 2012 — transmitted a message back from Vladimir Putin: Not a chance. Furthermore, Medvedev said, Obama is to blame for the existence of the Islamic State. “The strengthening of the Islamic State became possible partially due to irresponsible policies of the United States,” he declared. In that much, he’s correct. Obama’s abandonment of Iraq directly led to the rise of the Islamic State. That said, Syria isn’t an easy puzzle to put back together, and right now it boils down to priorities. Obama’s first priority is climate change, which tells you all you need to know about who’s really leading here.

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