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August 31, 2014

‘Weak’ Obama Needs Syria Intervention to Boost Standing in Middle East

If President Barack Obama wants to begin reversing his “irredeemably weak” stature in the Middle East, he has to respond forcefully — that, is militarily — to Syria’s use of chemical warfare against its own population.

“Irredeemably weak” is the label applied to Obama by a well-wisher, foreign policy expert Walter Russell Mead, in a brilliant analysis last weekend in The Wall Street Journal of the president’s multiple miscalculations in the region, titled “The Failed Grand Strategy in the Middle East.”

According to Mead, a professor at Bard College and editor of American Interests, Obama (1) thought moderate Islamists could govern well and democratically in Egypt and Turkey, (2) systematically offended strategic allies like Israel, Saudi Arabia and Egypt’s military, (3) thought killing Osama Bin Laden and drone-bombing terrorists targets would contain jihadism and (4) failed to understand how costly it would be to avoid intervening in Syria’s civil war.

“The failure to intervene early in Syria … has handed important victories both to the terrorists and the Russia-Iran axis, and has seriously eroded the Obama administration’s standing with important allies,” Mead writes.

“Russia and Iran backed Bashar al-Assad; the president called for his overthrow — and failed to achieve it … So, President Vladimir Putin and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khameni now believe they are dealing with a dithering and indecisive American president — and are calibrating their policies accordingly.”

Mead calls for “a much tougher policy on Syria” but doesn’t exactly call for what seems absolutely necessary — bombing out at least Assad’s capacity for waging chemical warfare and, possibly, establishing a no-fly zone so Assad’s planes are grounded.

A year ago, Obama said that use of chemical weapons was a “red line” that Assad wouldn’t be allowed to cross.  He’s crossed it, killing thousands. If Obama does not act now — and he can doubtless get allies to help — it will further embolden the entire Russian-Iranian axis, which includes Hezbollah in Lebanon.

If he does act, it may restore a measure of confidence in the allied nations terrified of Iranian expansionism — especially Saudi Arabia and Israel — and those being destabilized by the civil war, especially Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey.

Ever since evidence on chemical attacks began pouring in last week — and ghastly pictures of dead victims, including babies — the Obama administration has been making noises about “considering options,” including military. The longer the dithering goes on, the weaker he looks.

Obama clearly did not — and does not — want to be a “war president.” His highest foreign policy priority was to get out of Iraq, which is now tilting toward Iran. Next was to “surge” in Afghanistan — then get out, which is likely to lead to a Taliban takeover of much of the country. He killed bin Laden, but staying out of Syria has made it a training ground for terrorists.

And, meanwhile, Iran continues working on nuclear weapons, Obama’s sanctions notwithstanding.

Obama’s efforts to avoid war are an object lesson in how a war-avoidance strategy can make war inevitable. Syria is a necessary place to reverse course.

  • http://www.eideard.com/ Ed Campbell

    This would achieve so much more than spending that 1 or 2 billion$ a month extra on something like education or healthcare.

    Morons of America unite. You have nothing to lose but maybe another 5000 young soldiers.

  • Tiger184

    The Paper Tiger would stand behind your children he sends off to war, offered up in sacrifice, to save his legacy. Disgusting and outrageous.

    • Guest

      To be clear, it is Morton you are disgusted with here? He is the one that feels it would “save his legacy” not the President.

    • hippie1367

      Why not, its ok when GOP filth do it?

  • http://politicsandfinance.blogspot.com/ The Political Commentator

    Hi Mort:

    This from The Political Commentator:

    Barack Obama: Foreign policy eunuch!

    http://goo.gl/HGrOCQ

    This article contains eight examples of Barack Obama’s lack of leadership who, due to his failed foreign policies and empty rhetoric, has painted the United States with his rancid brush of perceived weakness, ineptness and impotence!

    A fact that has now incredibly even been recognized by the mainstream media.

    Mike

    Michael Haltman

    The Political Commentator

    2011, 2012 Fabulous 50 Blog Award Winner

    New York, New York

    Twitter: @ThePoliticalCom

    • hippie1367

      Just look at how many skyscrapers have been destroyed by terrorists – oh wait that was when the GOP was in power.

    • caterpillar23

      “irredeemably weak” stature in the Middle East, he has to respond forcefully — that, is militarily — to Syria’s use of chemical warfare against its own population.”

      Oh, and G.W. Bush was “redeemably strong” when he showed his might by invading the wrong country (Iraq) all to the great loss of 4,500 American troops? G.W. didn’t have a clue of the religion or culture regarding the Arab world and it was he who opened this “pandora’s box” on the hatred that they have for the U.S. with his “SHOOT FIRST AND ASK QUESTIONS LATER” mentality! My guess is that he flunked sociology 101 at Yale!

  • phoneranger

    Oh please. Mead was one of the biggest pro-Iraq War apologists. He’s irredeemable.

  • hippie1367

    Just look at how peaceful the region was when the GOP was in charge-even worse!

  • rokkitman

    Apparently the Juvenile Wimps of America, Kondracke and his pet professor included, need a testosterone boost to make them feel like ‘real men.’ Fortunately, the real man in the White House thinks with his brain, not with organs lower down.

  • caterpillar23

    “irredeemably weak” stature in the Middle East, he has to respond forcefully — that, is militarily — to Syria’s use of chemical warfare against its own population.” Oh, and G.W. Bush was “redeemably strong” when he showed his might by invading the wrong country (Iraq) all to the great loss of 4,500 American troops? G.W. didn’t have a clue of the religion or culture regarding the Arab world and it was he who opened this “pandora’s box” on the hatred that they have for the U.S. with his “SHOOT FIRST AND ASK QUESTIONS LATER” mentality!

  • Cynthia Gurin

    It has been said of Mead, an ardent supporter of the Iraq war, that he subscribes to the tired notion of U.S. exceptionalism. Thus, he paints U.S. deployment of violence as inherently less brutal than that of Washington’s enemies. In doing so, he sometimes grossly understates the human devastation wrought by the United States.

  • pogo_patti

    Morton, I could not disagree with you more! And Mead? Full of air!

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