Syria, Assad and U.S. Foreign Policy in Shambles

Syria, Assad and U.S. Foreign Policy in Shambles

“The President has fallen into that. He’s in fact strengthened Putin’s hands,” Rubio said in an interview with NPR that aired Monday, complaining that states in the region were despairing at the lack of a U.S. strategy to beat ISIS. “If left with a choice between Russia and nothing, they’re going to choose Russia,” Rubio said. [CNN]

WITH ONLY 4 or 5, maybe 9, rebels trained by the American military, Hillary Clinton said plainly to Chuck Todd that this U.S. strategy is a failure. It is one she supported, though in her interview she made a serious caveat that went beyond her recommendations of “several years ago.”

“..I can’t sit here and tell you that if we had done what I and General Petraeus and Secretary Panetta and others had recommended we would have made more progress on the ground. I obviously thought so at the time. … What the Pentagon has been doing hasn’t worked. …” – Hillary Clinton on “MTP Daily” [see video below]

Intellectually dissecting foreign policy from the outside is obviously a different art than when you’re governing and dealing directly with the players. Understanding that, I remain flabbergasted that the U.S. Congress had absolutely no will to back President Obama on firmer action against Bashar al-Assad after the “red line” was crossed, chemical weapons used on Syrian civilians. It’s worth noting that this came after the Parliament handed David Cameron a loss, voting against joining U.S.-led military strikes, which was no small event.

The United Nations General Assembly began with some embarrassment for the Obama administration.

The most ardent challenger on Monday was Putin, who appears to be probing openings in Ukraine and Syria where he believes the U.S. president will not resist. He recently ordered a military buildup in Syria apparently in support of President Bashar al-Assad, a longtime Russian client, and went behind Washington’s back to conclude an anti-ISIS intelligence alliance with Iran, Syria and Iraq just this weekend. [CNN]

It teed up things nicely for Marco Rubio, who’s made foreign policy the center of his campaign.

It’s one reason Secretary John Kerry was on “Morning Joe” saying the meeting between Obama and Putin was “genuinely constructive,” “very civil,” and a “very candid discussion.”

“Everybody understands that Syria is at stake,” Secretary Kerry said.

I’m more on the side that whatever Iraq and Syria once were they will never be again. Foreign policy expert Richard Haas, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, said that the partitioning of Iraq and land into Syria worked for 100 years, but it doesn’t any longer.

But in walks Putin into Syria to try one last time with Assad, as Obama looks to aid the efforts however we can, playing the odd man out. Iran is also with Putin on keeping Assad in power, because of the devil you know theory that also allows both leaders leverage, especially Putin, in a country where Russia has deep history with its people.

What President Obama and his administration will be living with for a long time is that Obama drew a red line for one of the world’s butchers and then when Assad crossed it, the United States, led by Congress’s cowardice, did absolutely nothing.

For all the caterwauling about Planned Parenthood, I’d say drawing, then ignoring, a red line said more about what kind of nation we are than anything else Obama has done. However, world leaders and Arab leaders remain equally to blame for their continually callous disregard of human rights and the slaughter of over 200,000 Syrians and a refugee crisis that threatens Jordan, as Lebanon holds on for dear life.

An excerpt from President Obama’s speech at the U.N. on Monday.

[…] Nowhere is our commitment to international order more tested than in Syria. When a dictator slaughters tens of thousands of his own people, that is not just a matter of one nation’s internal affairs — it breeds human suffering on an order of magnitude that affects us all. Likewise, when a terrorist group beheads captives, slaughters the innocent and enslaves women, that’s not a single nation’s national security problem — that is an assault on all humanity.

I’ve said before and I will repeat: There is no room for accommodating an apocalyptic cult like ISIL, and the United States makes no apologies for using our military, as part of a broad coalition, to go after them. We do so with a determination to ensure that there will never be a safe haven for terrorists who carry out these crimes. And we have demonstrated over more than a decade of relentless pursuit of al Qaeda, we will not be outlasted by extremists.

But while military power is necessary, it is not sufficient to resolve the situation in Syria. Lasting stability can only take hold when the people of Syria forge an agreement to live together peacefully. The United States is prepared to work with any nation, including Russia and Iran, to resolve the conflict. But we must recognize that there cannot be, after so much bloodshed, so much carnage, a return to the pre-war status quo.

Let’s remember how this started. Assad reacted to peaceful protests by escalating repression and killing that, in turn, created the environment for the current strife. And so Assad and his allies cannot simply pacify the broad majority of a population who have been brutalized by chemical weapons and indiscriminate bombing. Yes, realism dictates that compromise will be required to end the fighting and ultimately stamp out ISIL. But realism also requires a managed transition away from Assad and to a new leader, and an inclusive government that recognizes there must be an end to this chaos so that the Syrian people can begin to rebuild.

We know that ISIL — which emerged out of the chaos of Iraq and Syria — depends on perpetual war to survive. But we also know that they gain adherents because of a poisonous ideology. So part of our job, together, is to work to reject such extremism that infects too many of our young people. Part of that effort must be a continued rejection by Muslims of those who distort Islam to preach intolerance and promote violence, and it must also a rejection by non-Muslims of the ignorance that equates Islam with terror. (Applause.)

This work will take time. There are no easy answers to Syria. And there are no simple answers to the changes that are taking place in much of the Middle East and North Africa. But so many families need help right now; they don’t have time. And that’s why the United States is increasing the number of refugees who we welcome within our borders. That’s why we will continue to be the largest donor of assistance to support those refugees. And today we are launching new efforts to ensure that our people and our businesses, our universities and our NGOs can help as well — because in the faces of suffering families, our nation of immigrants sees ourselves. […]