The Refugees Streaming Out Of Syria And Libya Are The Price Of Obama’s Failure

Posted on Fri 09/11/2015 by


Bolt New 01By Andrew Bolt ~

Fred Hiatt, editorial page editor of the Washington Post:

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…

Obama Sneer 3One reason is that Obama — who ran for president on the promise of restoring the United States’ moral stature — has constantly reassured Americans that doing nothing is the smart and moral policy. He has argued, at times, that there was nothing the United States could do, belittling the Syrian opposition as “former doctors, farmers, pharmacists and so forth.”…

He has implied that because we can’t solve every problem, maybe we shouldn’t solve any. “How do I weigh tens of thousands who’ve been killed in Syria versus the tens of thousands who are currently being killed in the Congo?” he asked (though at the time thousands were not being killed in Congo).

On those rare occasions when political pressure or the horrors of Syrian suffering threatened to overwhelm any excuse for inaction, he promised action, in statements or White House leaks: training for the opposition, a safe zone on the Turkish border. Once public attention moved on, the plans were abandoned or scaled back to meaningless proportions (training 50 soldiers per year, no action on the Turkish border).

Perversely, the worse Syria became, the more justified the president seemed for staying aloof; steps that might have helped in 2012 seemed ineffectual by 2013, and actions that could have saved lives in 2013 would not have been up to the challenge presented by 2014…

The realists were right that the United States has to consider interests as well as values, must pace itself and can’t save everyone. But a values-free argument ought at least to be able to show that the ends have justified the means, whereas the strategic results of Obama’s disengagement have been nearly as disastrous as the human consequences.

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.

Michael Gerson:

One little boy in a red T-shirt, lying face down, drowned, on a Turkish beach, is a tragedy. More than 200,000 dead in Syria, 4 million fleeing refugees and 7.6 million displaced from their homes are statistics. But they represent a collective failure of massive proportions.

For four years, the Obama administration has engaged in what Frederic Hof, former special adviser for transition in Syria, calls a “pantomime of outrage.” Four years of strongly worded protests, and urgent meetings and calls for negotiation — the whole drama a sickening substitute for useful action. People talking and talking to drown out the voice of their own conscience. And blaming. In 2013, President Obama lectured the U.N. Security Council for having “demonstrated no inclination to act at all.” Psychological projection on a global stage… The largest humanitarian failure of the Obama era is also its largest strategic failure…

Inaction was a conscious, determined choice on the part of the Obama White House. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and CIA Director David Petraeus advocated arming favorable proxies. Sunni friends and allies in the region asked, then begged, for U.S. leadership. All were overruled or ignored.

In the process, Syria has become the graveyard of U.S. credibility. The chemical weapons “red line.” “The tide of war is receding.” “Don’t do stupid [stuff].” These are global punch lines. “The analogy we use around here sometimes,” said Obama of the Islamic State, “and I think is accurate, is if a JV team puts on Lakers uniforms, that doesn’t make them Kobe Bryant.” Now the goal to “degrade and destroy” the Islamic State looks unachievable with the current strategy and resources. “The time has come for President Assad to step aside,” said Obama in 2011. Yet Assad will likely outlast Obama in power.

What explains Obama’s high tolerance for humiliation and mass atrocities in Syria? The Syrian regime is Iran’s proxy, propped up by billions of dollars each year. And Obama wanted nothing to interfere with the prospects for a nuclear deal with Iran. He was, as Hof has said, “reluctant to offend the Iranians at this critical juncture.” So the effective concession of Syria as an Iranian zone of influence is just one more cost of the president’s legacy nuclear agreement.

Glenn Reynolds:

Now, as the war in Syria has expanded — with the U.S. arming and supporting various groups that have shown a disturbing tendency to take our guns and then switch sides — refugees are flooding Europe. It is, as Ron Radosh correctly states, Barack Obama’s refugee problem.

This would be bad enough if Syria were the Obama administration’s only foreign policy misstep, but instead it is merely representative of a larger problem. President Obama bragged about Yemen as a showpiece of his administration’s anti-terror program’s success; a few months later, Yemen was taken over by terrorists and now an ugly civil war, featuring Saudi troops, rages there. The administration’s responses, as even the Obama-friendly notes, have been “cringe-worthy.”

Then there’s Libya. Under President George W. Bush, the United States reached an agreement with Libyan strongman Moammar Gadhafi under which Gadhafi would give up his weapons of mass destruction in exchange for the United States no longer trying to depose him. But just years later, the Obama administration, spearheaded by then-secretary of State Hillary Clinton, went ahead and toppled him anyway. Now Libya, too, is wracked by bloody civil war, and sending waves of refugees pouring into Europe.

But again, what you do not value you do not defend. I don’t think Obama values Europe or even the US that much.

But underlining this is also a strategic error even these writers do not concede. Obama backed the wrong horse. The regime of Bashar Assad, the dictator and war criminal, was always the most likely to maintain some kind of stability in Syria. And in effect our own Government is acknowledging that by attacking the Islamic State in Syria, Assad’s chief threat.

So this strikes me as not just idle but dangerous:

Australia is ramping up diplomatic efforts, with the US and Britain, to remove Syrian President Bashar­ al-Assad politically at the same time it bombs Islamic State in the country and takes refugees to ease the humanitarian crises.

Tony Abbott is preparing a political strategy to take to US President Barack Obama and the world leaders summit at the UN in three weeks, with Foreign Minister Julie Bishop working with US Secretary of State John Kerry on a political solution aimed at removing Assad without promoting Islam­ic State…

While some countries in the ­coalition forces defending Iraq want to “forcibly remove” Assad, there is a strong view among Australia’s Western allies that there has to be a political solution and there are “diplomatic back-channel communications” aimed at removing the dictator but preserving the Syrian government structure.

The talks include Russia, to find an alternative leadership to Assad that both the US and Russia could deal with. Last night a spokesman for Russian ambassador to Australia Vladimir Morozov told the ABC that “we are not sure bombing Syria is a solution to the regional crisis and a way to crush ISIS”.

“We suggest a broad international coalition to fight terrorism. This has been voiced by the Russian President,” he said. “Obviously, now, I think everyone understands that removing the regime of Bashar al-Assad is not a solution…”

But we’re in the Twitter generation of the self-obsessed moral posturers. Assad is evil, so it dirties us to deal with him. It makes us look bad.

And never mind the consequences of removing him.

Andrew Bolt is a journalist and columnist writing for The Herald Sun in Melbourne Victoria Australia.

Andrew Bolt’s columns appear in Melbourne’s Herald Sun, Sydney’s Daily Telegraph and Adelaide’s Advertiser. He runs the most-read political blog in Australia and hosts Channel 10’s The Bolt Report each Sunday at 10am. He is also heard from Monday to Friday at 8am on the breakfast show of radio station MTR 1377, and his book  Still Not Sorry remains very widely read.

Read more excellent articles from Andrew Bolt’s Blog .