In the process, Syria has become the graveyard of American credibility. The chemical weapons "red line." "The tide of war is receding." "We 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 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.
Never mind that Iran will now have tens of billions of unfrozen assets to strengthen Assad's struggling military. And never mind that Assad's atrocities are one of the main recruiting tools for the Islamic State and other Sunni radicals. All of which is likely to extend a war that no one can win, which has incubated regional and global threats, and thrown a small body in a red T-shirt against a distant shore.
Friday, September 04, 2015
WaPo's Gerson: Syria is Obama's largest failure
There are so many Obama failures. But Michael Gerson of the Washington Post says the Syrian refugee crisis is his biggest one.