Krauthammer: As Obama did nothing, Iran and Russia could scarcely believe their luckIran and Russia were amazed at their good luck as President Hussein Obama did nothing in Syria (Hat Tip: Tom Gross).
It’s the Spanish Civil War except that only one side — the fascists — showed up. The natural ally of what began as a spontaneous, secular, liberationist uprising in Syria was the United States. For two years, it did nothing.
President Obama’s dodge was his chemical-weapons “red line.” In a conflict requiring serious statecraft, Obama chose to practice forensics instead, earnestly agonizing over whether reported poison gas attacks reached the evidentiary standards of “CSI: Miami.”
Obama talked “chain of custody,” while Iran and Russia, hardly believing their luck, reached for regional dominance — the ayatollahs solidifying their “Shiite crescent,” Vladimir Putin seizing the opportunity to dislodge America as regional hegemon, a position the United States achieved four decades ago under Henry Kissinger.
And when finally forced to admit that his red line had been crossed — a “game changer,” Obama had gravely warned — what did he do? Promise the rebels small arms and ammunition.
That’s it? It’s meaningless: The rebels are already receiving small arms from the Gulf states.
Serious policymaking would dictate that we either do something that will alter the course of the war, or do nothing. Instead, Obama has chosen to do just enough to give the appearance of having done something.
But it gets worse. Despite his commitment to steadfast inaction, Obama has been forced by events to send F-16s, Patriot missiles and a headquarters unit of the 1st Armored Division (indicating preparation for a possible “larger force,” explains The Post) — to Jordan. America’s most reliable Arab ally needs protection. It is threatened not just by a flood of refugees but also by the rise of Iran’s radical Shiite bloc with ambitions far beyond Syria, beyond even Jordan and Lebanon to Yemen, where, it was reported just Wednesday, Iran is arming and training separatists.
Obama has thus been forced back into the very vacuum he created — but at a distinct disadvantage. We are now scrambling to put together some kind of presence in Jordan as a defensive counterweight to the Iran-Hezbollah-Russia bloc.
The tragedy is that we once had a counterweight and Obama threw it away. Obama still thinks the total evacuation of Iraq is a foreign policy triumph. In fact, his inability — unwillingness? — to negotiate a Status of Forces Agreement that would have left behind a small but powerful residual force in Iraq is precisely what compels him today to re-create in Jordan a pale facsimile of that regional presence.Read the whole thing.
And for those of you who think I am mistaken when I say that had Obama intervened on the side of the rebels two years ago, he'd be arming non-Islamists, please consider this:
As the Syrian civil war got under way, a former electrician who calls himself Sheikh Omar built up a brigade of rebel fighters. In two years of struggle against President Bashar al-Assad, they came to number 2,000 men, he said, here in the northern city of Aleppo. Then, virtually overnight, they collapsed.
Omar's group, Ghurabaa al-Sham, wasn't defeated by the government. It was dismantled by a rival band of revolutionaries - hardline Islamists.
The Islamists moved against them at the beginning of May. After three days of sporadic clashes Omar's more moderate fighters, accused by the Islamists of looting, caved in and dispersed, according to local residents. Omar said the end came swiftly.
The Islamists confiscated the brigade's weapons, ammunition and cars, Omar said. "They considered this war loot. Maybe they think we are competitors," he said. "We have no idea about their goals. What we have built in two years disappeared in a single day."
The group was effectively marginalized in the struggle to overthrow Syria's President Bashar al-Assad. Around 100 fighters are all that remain of his force, Omar said.
It's a pattern repeated elsewhere in the country. During a 10-day journey through rebel-held territory in Syria, Reuters journalists found that radical Islamist units are sidelining more moderate groups that do not share the Islamists' goal of establishing a supreme religious leadership in the country.
I hope all Americans are pleased that they elected a President whose foreign policy goal was to degrade American power. Those of us who live in the Middle East will be paying the price for many years to come. The price that Americans will pay domestically for their foolishness - via Obamacare - likely pales by comparison.
The moderates, often underfunded, fragmented and chaotic, appear no match for Islamist units, which include fighters from organizations designated "terrorist" by the United States.
What could go wrong?