Tuesday, September 08, 2015


Roger Cohen.  New York Times.  "Obama's Syrian Nightmare."  (He does not mention Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden's roles.)

Syria will be the biggest blot on the Obama presidency, a debacle of staggering proportions. For more than four years now, the war has festered. A country has been destroyed, four million Syrians are refugees, Islamic State has moved into the vacuum and President Bashar al-Assad still drops barrel bombs whose shrapnel and chlorine rip women and children to shreds.

At multiple stages, if Obama could have mustered the will, the belief in American power, there were options. The Syrian aircraft dropping those barrel bombs could have been taken out. A safe area for refugees might have been created. Arming the rebels early and massively might have changed the course of the war. Counterfactuals, of course, don’t carry much weight. We will never know. We only know the facts of the Syrian nightmare now seeping, in various forms, into the West. Syria, broken, will be the rift that keeps on giving.

In Libya, Obama bombed and abandoned. In Afghanistan, Obama surged and retreated. In Syria, Obama talked and wavered. He has been comfortable with the pinpoint use of force — the killing of Osama bin Laden for example — but uncomfortable with American military power.

Frederick C. Hof.  Foreign Policy.  "Obama:  Open Your Eyes".

Having decided to leave millions of Syrians subject to barrel bombs, starvation sieges, mass terrorism, and collective punishment so as not to offend Iran, the administration (or more precisely, Europe) now reaps the whirlwind of hundreds of thousands of refugees. Yet instead of changing course, it whines about how much worse things would have been had other decisions been taken.

Fred Hyatt, Editorial Page Director, Washington Post.  "Obama's Syria Achievement."

This may be the most surprising of President Obama’s foreign-policy legacies: not just that he presided over a humanitarian and cultural disaster of epochal proportions, but that he soothed the American people into feeling no responsibility for the tragedy.

Starvation in Biafra a generation ago sparked a movement. Synagogues and churches a decade ago mobilized to relieve misery in Darfur. When the Taliban in 2001 destroyed ancient statues of Buddha at Bamiyan, the world was appalled at the lost heritage.

When Obama pulled all U.S. troops out of Iraq, critics worried there would be instability; none envisioned the emergence of a full-blown terrorist state. When he announced in August 2011 that “the time has come for President Assad to step aside,” critics worried the words might prove empty — but few imagined the extent of the catastrophe: not just the savagery of chemical weapons and “barrel bombs,” but also the Islamic State’s recruitment of thousands of foreign fighters, its spread from Libya to Afghanistan, the danger to the U.S. homeland that has alarmed U.S. intelligence officials, the refugees destabilizing Europe.

Ron Radosh, "Obama's Refugee Crisis."

While many foreign leaders have spoken out, there is one who has said not a word. That leader, as you most probably can guess, is Barack Obama. And how could he? His policies, after all, have ended in this tragedy. It is, as Michael Gerson writes in a powerful Washington Post column, the result of his failure in Syria.

Obama said a “red line” in Syria could not be crossed; then Bashar Al-Assad crossed it—and nothing happened except for temporarily harsher rhetoric from the president. Now, Assad drops barrel bombs on his own people, filled with supposedly outlawed chemical weapons. Obama, of course, had plenty of measures which he could have ordered that would have stopped or limited Assad’s war on his own people. Instead, he ignored the advice of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and CIA chief Gen. David Petraeus, who favored using screened moderate forces of the Sunni majority willing to fight and supplying them with shoulder-to-air missiles that would have brought down the helicopters Assad uses to carry out the bombings. Instead, he did nothing.

Muslims chant "fuck you" in Hungary.  

Conservative European angry at refugees who are not refugees.  "European leaders are committing cultural and demographic suicide."

Michael Goodwin, New York Post.  "The Bigger Picture Behind the European Refugee Crisis."

This metastasizing catastrophe is not the result of famine or drought or disease. It is man-made and should have been ­prevented.

But that would have required leaders with the moral conviction of Roosevelt and Churchill. ­Instead, America and Great Britain are led by frat boys.

Barack Obama and David Cameron indulged themselves in the delusion that human nature had magically changed and the world would take care of itself while they gutted the arsenals of ­democracy.

History will record their fecklessness, and that of France, Germany and the other once-great powers. That is, unless history ­itself is erased by the madmen of Islamic State.

Not content to slaughter those they deem infidels and apostates, the would-be Hitlers are cleansing Syria and Iraq of its ancient temples and artifacts. They aim to control the past as well as the future.

Obama has been a gift to the worst of the world, topped by his surrender to Iran. He and the quislings masquerading as the leaders of Europe see no evil as Iran spreads its tentacles. Sooner, on their own, or later, with America’s blessing, the mullahs will have their doomsday weapon.

David P. Goldman. Asia Times.  "The Price of Europe's Fecklessness."

The Europeans, to be sure, are a pack of cynical hypocrites. If they had cared about Syrians, they might have sent a couple of brigades of soldiers to fight ISIS. But not a single European will risk his neck to prevent humanitarian catastrophe. The last time European soldiers got close to real trouble, in Srebrenica in 1995, Dutch peacekeepers stood aside while Bosnian Serbs massacred 8,000 Muslims.

The horror has now piled up on Europe’s doorstep, thanks evidently to the skill of Turkish gangs who have turned the Turkey-to-Balkans smuggling route into a superhighway. Europe said and did nothing while the global refugee count exploded from 40 million in 2010 to 60 million in 2014, according to the UN High Commission on Refugees, but was shocked, shocked to find such people on its doorstep.

Washington Post.  "Hungarian Bishop Says Pope is Wrong about Refugees."

Lee Smith.  The Weekly Standard.  "Obama Avoided Syrian Action to Help Iran Negotiations."

Obama decided to steer clear of the Syrian conflict not just to avoid doing anything, but just as importantly, to avoid damaging Iranian interests in Syria. As Obama wrote Iranian supreme leader Ali Khamenei, “the U.S.’s military operations inside Syria aren’t targeted at Mr. Assad or his security forces.” Obama didn’t do anything to bring down Assad because he was afraid it might anger the Syrian president’s patrons in Iran, and getting a nuclear deal with Iran was Obama’s foreign policy priority.

There is plenty that Obama might have done to support Syrian rebels— an opposition he derided as “former doctors, farmers, pharmacists”—without ever risking putting American forces on the ground in Syria. By 2013, all his national security cabinet officials—Leon Panetta, David Petraeus, Hillary Clinton, Susan Rice, Thomas Donilon, et al.—argued for supporting Syrian rebel units.

Obama however kept his eyes on the prize: the Iran deal. Same when it came to enforcing the red line he drew against Assad’s use of chemical weapons. No one in their right mind believes that firing missiles on Assad regime facilities was likely to compel the White House to land forces in Syria. Obama’s concern rather was that if the United States signaled that it was no longer protecting Assad it might turn the balance of power against the Syrian regime. But that of course would anger the Iranians, and all Obama wanted was an accommodation with the regime—and now he has one in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

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