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National Security Desk / December 15, 2016

Obama’s Aleppo Legacy

Aleppo’s fall to Assad’s forces typifies Obama’s failed Middle East policy.

As Barack Obama is preparing to leave office in a little over a month, let Aleppo remind Americans just how disastrous his Middle East foreign policies have been. Bashar al-Assad’s government forces, backed by the Russian military, have successfully retaken the city from U.S. supported rebels, which has resulted in scores of civilian casualties that outside observers are calling a massive human tragedy. Where is Obama’s “red line”? Where is that new “respect” that the world would now have for the U.S. after Obama restored that which George W. Bush supposedly diminished?

Consider the current situation in the Middle East when compared with the situation as Bush was preparing to leave office. Iraq was in a stable position, al-Qaida was severely diminished and on the run, the Islamic State did not exist, Russia had not invaded the Ukraine or annexed Crimea and the Iranian government was on the brink of collapse after years of crippling sanctions. It would be difficult to argue that Bush left the U.S. in a worse position than Obama is leaving it for Donald Trump.

Make no mistake, the disaster in the Middle East is not the fault of Bush, but of his successor. Aleppo is Obama’s mess. He liked to lecture about leading and making tough choices, but when those decisive moments came he withered rather than stood. And it’s all because he believed America needed to be taken down a peg or two.

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