National Security Desk / October 4, 2016

Obama’s Syria Failure

U.S. and Russia break up talks on jointly fighting the Islamic State.

Barack Obama’s spokesman Josh Earnest announced Monday that the U.S. had broken off its joint Syria agreement with Russia. “What’s clear is that there is nothing more for the United States and Russia to talk about with regard to trying to reach an agreement that would reduce the violence inside of Syria,” Earnest said, “and that’s tragic.” What is indeed tragic — beyond the great human suffering experienced by those living through (and dying in) the Syrian civil war — is how Obama’s lack of foresight and strategic vision for Syria and the Middle East combined with his ideological barrier against any notion of solving conflict through the use of force squandered the U.S.‘s position of influence in the region.

Obama utterly rejects Ronald Reagan’s “peace through strength” worldview, and has thus appeared more like Neville Chamberlain with his aversion to the use of force. Vladimir Putin, on the other hand, is more than willing to use all forms of politically advantageous diplomacy and military force, which enabled him to call Obama’s bluff. While Putin may be no Adolf Hitler, assuming a bully will concede defeat through some form of toothless diplomacy is simply foolish.

Other fallout regarding the collapse of talks was Russia’s announcement that it is putting on hold a plutonium disposal deal with the U.S. This low level of U.S.-Russian relations hasn’t been seen since the fall of the Soviet Union.

Finally, in leaked audio from a side meeting at the UN General Assembly obtained by CNN, Secretary of State John Kerry states that he argued for the use of force back in 2013 following Assad’s use of chemical weapons, but was overruled by Obama. He also faulted Congress, saying, “The bottom line is that Congress refused even to vote to allow that.” What seems to be happening here is an attempt by Obama to take one for the team regarding Syria, thereby insulating Hillary Clinton from taking blame for a catastrophic foreign policy failure.

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