Obama’s Syria debacle


“Russia hits Assad’s foes, angering US” — Headline, Wall Street Journal, Oct. 1

WASHINGTON,DC: If it had the wit, the Obama administration would be not angered, but appropriately humiliated. President Obama has, once again, been totally outmaneuvered by Vladimir Putin. Two days earlier at the United Nations, Obama had welcomed the return, in force, of the Russian military to the Middle East — for the first time in decades — in order to help fight the Islamic State.

The ruse was transparent from the beginning. Russia is not in Syria to fight the Islamic State. The Kremlin was sending fighter planes, air-to-air missiles and SA-22 anti-aircraft batteries. Against an Islamic State that has no air force, no planes, no helicopters?

Russia then sent reconnaissance drones over Western Idlib and Hama, where there are no Islamic State fighters. Followed by bombing attacks on Homs and other opposition strongholds that had nothing to do with the Islamic State.

Indeed, some of these bombed fighters were US trained and equipped. Asked if we didn’t have an obligation to support our own allies on the ground, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter bumbled that Russia’s actions exposed its policy as self-contradictory.

Carter made it sound as if the Russian offense was to have perpetrated an oxymoron, rather than a provocation — and a direct challenge to what’s left of the US policy of supporting a moderate opposition.

The whole point of Russian intervention is to maintain Assad in power. Putin has no interest in fighting the Islamic State. Indeed, the second round of Russian air attacks was on rival insurgents (BEG ITAL)opposed(END ITAL) to the Islamic State. The Islamic State is nothing but a pretense for Russian intervention. And Obama fell for it.

Just three weeks ago, Obama chided Russia for its military buildup, wagging his finger that it was “doomed to failure.” Yet by Monday he was publicly welcoming Russia to join the fight against the Islamic State. He not only acquiesced to the Russian buildup, he held an ostentatious meeting with Putin on the subject, thereby marking the ignominious collapse of Obama’s vaunted campaign to isolate Putin diplomatically over Crimea.
Putin then showed his utter contempt for Obama by launching his air campaign against our erstwhile anti-Assad allies not 48 hours after meeting Obama. Which the US found out about when a Russian general knocked on the door of the US Embassy in Baghdad and delivered a brusque demarche announcing that the attack would begin within an hour and warning the US to get out of the way.

In his subsequent news conference, Secretary Carter averred that he found such Russian behavior “unprofessional.”

Good grief. Russia, with its inferior military and hemorrhaging economy, had just eaten Carter’s lunch, seizing the initiative and exposing American powerlessness — and the secretary of defense deplores what? Russia’s lack of professional etiquette.
Makes you want to weep.

Consider: When Obama became president, the surge in Iraq had succeeded and the US had emerged as the dominant regional actor, able to project power throughout the region.

Last Sunday, Iraq announced the establishment of a joint intelligence-gathering center with Iran, Syria and Russia, symbolizing the new “Shiite-crescent” alliance stretching from Iran across the northern Middle East to the Mediterranean, under the umbrella of Russia, the rising regional hegemon.

Russian planes roam free over Syria attacking Assad’s opposition as we stand by helpless. Meanwhile, the US secretary of state beseeches the Russians to negotiate “de-conflict” arrangements — so that we and they can each bomb our own targets safely. It has come to this.

Why is Putin moving so quickly and so brazenly? Because he’s got only 16 more months to push on the open door that is Obama. He knows he’ll never again see an American president such as this — one who once told the General Assembly that “no one nation can or should try to dominate another nation” and told it again last Monday of “believing in my core that we, the nations of the world, cannot return to the old ways of conflict and coercion.”

They cannot? Has he looked at the world around him — from Homs to Kunduz, from Sanaa to Donetsk — ablaze with conflict and coercion?

Wouldn’t you take advantage of these last 16 months if you were Putin, facing a man living in a faculty-lounge fantasy world? Where was Obama when Putin began bombing Syria? Leading a UN meeting on countering violent extremism.
Seminar to follow.

(c) 2015, Washington Post Writers Group


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  1. Mariano Patalinjug on

    Yonkers, New York
    03 October 2015

    First of all, Washington Posts columnist Charles Krauthammer is a dyed-in-the-wool conservative pundit.

    Secondly, he cites that headline of the Wall Street Journal, which is owned now by the Australian national Rupert Murdoch, a newspaper which is not famous for its liberal leanings.

    It should be understandable why Mr. Krauthammer and The Wall Street Journal tend to pounce on Democratic President Barack Obama every chance they get. For them, President Obama can never do right, but, obviously, Russia’s Vladimir Putin can never do wrong. [Except possibly Mr. Putin’s annexation of the Crimea and his ongoing destabilization of Ukraine apparently intent on annexing it as well, as part of his obsession to resurrect the ill-fated USSR so that he can be a major player on the world stage.]

    What, I ask, did Charles Krauthammer say in his Washington Post column when Republican George W. Bush, on the urging of Vice President Dick Chency [his “Rasputin”], suddenly and inexplicably DIVERTED United States and NATO forces from Afghanistan to Iraq–and did so on false pretenses? Was he all praise for a misadventure which cost the lives of more than 4,000 American soldiers, plus over-$1 trillion in US treasure?

    Charles Krauthammer must know ALL THE FACTS behind President Obama’s and Defense Secretary Carter’s action [or non-action] in Syria. But he does not, and he cannot because he is not and cannot be privy to what’s behind their decisions and their actions.


  2. Ikabod Bubwit on

    It is very clear from the pronouncements of Obama that they do not want to destroy ISIS. Why ??? Because US policy in the middle-east is to keep the war ongoing – a sort of controlled chaos. The US do not want any particular side to win. And the purpose of all this is to protect the Petrodollar system which is the only thing that keeps the US economy afloat. The Assad government is the only legitimate government in Syria recognized by the planet. The opposition groups in Syria consists of Syrians and foreigners which switch sides every now and then between the rebels and ISIS whichever is convenient. The Obama administration has had more than one year to destroy ISIS with its lethal air power but hasn’t. Why ??? Because it doesn’t want to !!!