The Obama Administration is Deluded About Syria

March 12, 2013 12:36 am 2 comments

Screen shot of Syrian rebels. Photo: Youtube

Predictably, President Obama’s recent decision to provide additional nonlethal military aid to the opposition Syrian National Coalition and its military wing has pleased almost no one. Those who want to provide arms and ammunition to the rebels see Obama’s step as weak and insufficient, while those who oppose any aid to the increasingly dubious opposition see it as another step toward just such lethal assistance.

Despite these divergent criticisms, however, the decision announced by Secretary of State John Kerry, now belatedly converted to opposing Bashar al-Assad’s dictatorship, is at bottom simply another half-step, a compromise, further evidence of President Obama’s chronic national security indecisiveness. There is no coherent politico-military strategy at work here, only an effort to appease domestic and international critics of a Syria policy badly misguided from the outset.

The central issue for America has never been whether to aid the Syrian opposition or simply sit on the sidelines. The real question is how broader U.S. strategic objectives in the Middle East and elsewhere are affected by the conflict among Syria’s ethnic and religious factions.

Unfortunately, other than pressuring Israel these last four years to surrender to unacceptable Palestinian demands, Obama is bereft of a regional strategy. By withdrawing U.S. forces from Iraq and accelerating withdrawal from Afghanistan, he acts as if we were the cause of regional hostility rather than a source of security and stability for our interests and friends.

And regarding Iran, whose support for terrorism and pursuit of nuclear weapons constitutes the principal threat to regional peace, Obama has simply been AWOL.

Where does Syria fit in? Assad’s regime is no friend to America or Israel. It relies for its existence on Russian and Iranian assistance, it oppresses its own people and it is a key abettor of international terrorists such as Lebanon’s Hezbollah. In short, the regime has nothing to recommend its continued existence.

For two years, however, Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pursued Russia, operating under the delusion that Washington and Moscow had “common interests” in effecting Assad’s peaceful removal from power. Nothing could be further from the Kremlin’s real interests and two years of conflict are largely attributable to this complete misreading of Russia’s intentions.

Moreover, Obama was reluctant to oppose Assad for fear of displeasing Tehran’s ayatollahs, thereby risking disruption of a parallel delusion, namely that Iran could be bargained out of its nuclear weapons program. Even now, the administration continues negotiations that will actually legitimize Iran’s nuclear program, leaving it far more capable of manufacturing nuclear weapons at a time of Tehran’s choosing.

In fact, to paraphrase Donald Rumsfeld, we go into crises with the president we have and this one is simply too dangerously naïve and detached to bear serious responsibilities.

Unfortunately, however, Syria’s opposition is also problematical. Even after two years of increasingly mortal conflict, Europe and the United States remain unable to identify opposition politicians, political blocs and fighting units we are confident would govern Syria after Assad according to acceptable standards.

Given the tragedy continuing to unfold in Syria, what should American policy be?

First, our most important objective must be to ensure that Syria’s large stockpiles of chemical weapons and related materials do not fall into the hands of international terrorists and exit the country for use elsewhere. Moreover, reported biological weapons and nuclear programs, likely in conjunction with Iran, must also be kept from the wrong hands. And before any substantial assistance, lethal or nonlethal, is provided to any Syrian opposition elements, Washington must obtain demonstrable, unequivocal commitments that, if they prevail, they agree to the destruction of all aspects of Assad’s programs of weapons of mass destruction.

Second, supporters of the opposition must name names and supporting evidence:

Whom can we trust?

How much Syrian support do they have?

Are they strong enough to stand against al-Qaida or radical Islamicist elements within the opposition?

We must insist on opposition leaders who would not commit indiscriminate bloodbaths against the Christians, Druze and Alawites now supporting Assad.

These preconditions are neither unreasonable nor impossible to fulfill. And they rest simply on the long-standing bedrock of U.S. foreign policy — namely that our objectives should be to protect American national interests and allies, not endlessly going “abroad in search of monsters to destroy.”

John Bolton, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, is a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.
This article was originally published by the Pittsburgh Tribune Review.

2 Comments

  • I agree, we help Syria and they will just turn around and kick us in the teeth later! I am tired of us sending our men off to be masacred in wars where their lives are lost over no real benefiting cause. And I completely agree with the author on what he wrote about “misreading of Russia’s intentions,” Russia is out for themselves, not Syria or anyone else!

  • I fully agree with Obama’s strategy of pulling out of Afghanistan, but not because “we’re the source of instability in the region” (it wasn’t any more stable before we went in), but because staying there is contrary to our geo-strategic interests.

    I don’t agree with providing any support to the Syrian rebels. They are run by jihadi organizations and are not our allies. Neither is Assad of course. I have zero trust for either of them.

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Book Reviews Personalities How a Jewish Leader With 3 Months to Live Created a ‘Seminar’ on Life

    How a Jewish Leader With 3 Months to Live Created a ‘Seminar’ on Life

    JNS.org – What would you do if you found out that you had only three more months to live? Gordon Zacks was a successful businessman, a leader of Jewish life, and a confidante and adviser to President George H.W. Bush. He knew that he had prostate cancer, but doctors advised him that it was very slow-growing and nothing to worry about. Then came the day when the doctors told him his cancer metastasized to his liver, and that he had [...]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Theater 10 Things I Learned From My Play About Holocaust Denial

    10 Things I Learned From My Play About Holocaust Denial

    Last month, my one-man show Hoaxocaust! Written and performed by Barry Levey with the generous assistance of the Institute for Political and International Studies, Tehran ran in the New York International Fringe Festival, where it won an Overall Excellence Award. The play has now been selected to run in the Fringe Encores Series at Baruch College’s Performing Arts Center, for four performances which started on Thursday, September 11. Getting the play to the stage was not easy, however. Here are [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Israel Israeli Music Producer Racks Up Over 535,000 YouTube Hits – in Two Days

    Israeli Music Producer Racks Up Over 535,000 YouTube Hits – in Two Days

    Phenomenon: Tel Aviv-based musician and “sampler” extraordinaire, Kutiman (aka Ophir Kutiel) has hit another one out of the park with “Give It Up,” a fully-functioning song in its own right, assembled from hundreds of ameteur and instructional music videos. The Jerusalem-born musical prodigy is best know for his diverse online musical projects. In the latest video, uploaded to YouTube on Sept. 12th, Kutiel thanked most of the musicians and individuals he chose to include in the meticulously-edited clip, which opens with [...]

    Read more →
  • Theater US & Canada Behind-the-Scenes Reel of Ridley Scott’s Moses Epic Shows Scenes Using 4000 Extras (VIDEO)

    Behind-the-Scenes Reel of Ridley Scott’s Moses Epic Shows Scenes Using 4000 Extras (VIDEO)

    A recently released behind-the-scenes reel of Ridley Scott’s upcoming film Exodus: Gods and Kings shows just how far the director has gone to portray one of the Bible’s most famous narratives. In the clip, which shows scenes involving up to 4,000 extras, the visionary director discusses what drew him to the biblical tale of Moses. “The Moses story was a massive challenge, which I really love. I wanted to explore the complexity of his character and I was stunned by [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Jewish Identity Turner Classic Movies Showcases ‘Broad Sweep’ of the Jewish Experience on Film

    Turner Classic Movies Showcases ‘Broad Sweep’ of the Jewish Experience on Film

    JNS.org – Since 2006, the Turner Classic Movies (TCM) cable and satellite TV network has hosted “The Projected Image,” a month-long showcase examining how different cultural and ethnic groups have been portrayed on the big screen. At last, after previously covering African Americans, Asians, the LGBT community, Latinos, Native Americans, Arabs, and people with disabilities, the annual series is delving into Jewish film this month. “The Projected Image: The Jewish Experience on Film,” whose first segment aired Sept. 2, runs [...]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Jewish Identity An Inside Look at the Hasidim (REVIEW)

    An Inside Look at the Hasidim (REVIEW)

    The sight of young girls in pinafores and young boys wearing peyos – sidelocks – dangling over their ears is a sure sign that you have entered the enigmatic precincts of the Hasidim – the pious ones. Veteran New York Times journalist Joseph Berger’s new book, THE PIOUS ONES: The World of Hasidim and their Battles with America, takes the reader on a journey into the enclaves where various sects of Jews live a seemingly outmoded way of life in [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Jewish Identity How Jewish Television Pioneer Milton Berle Inspired Modern Comedy Stars

    How Jewish Television Pioneer Milton Berle Inspired Modern Comedy Stars

    JNS.org – Today’s comedy superstars, especially those whose careers are driven by television, may very well owe their success to pioneering Jewish entertainer Milton Berle. Born Mendel Berlinger in Manhattan in 1908, Berle became America’s first small-screen star. Aptly nicknamed “Mr. Television,” he influenced and helped promote the work of hundreds of younger comics. “Milton Berle was deceptively successful and very Jewish,” says Lawrence Epstein, author of The Haunted Smile: The Story of Jewish Comedians in America, published the year [...]

    Read more →
  • Jewish Identity Sports Jewish ‘Hoops Whisperer’ a Secret Weapon for NBA Stars

    Jewish ‘Hoops Whisperer’ a Secret Weapon for NBA Stars

    JNS.org – Idan Ravin’s friends chipped in to buy him a humble but life-changing bar mitzvah gift—a basketball hoop his father attached to the roof of his garage. Little did his friends know that years later, he would be the personal trainer of National Basketball Association (NBA) stars Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant, Dwight Howard, and Stephen Curry. Ravin’s new book, “The Hoops Whisperer: On the Court and Inside the Head of Basketball’s Best Players,” details his rise from a Jewish upbringing [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.