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Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Why Obama and Rhodes abandoned Syria

I don't know whether my friends at @Free_Media_Hub and @Paradoxy13 noticed, but the @rhodes44 story is a devastating indictment of Obama administration policy in Syria.
There is nothing at all remarkable about 'John Q. Citizen' looking back on invasion, occupation, and insurgency in Iraq and saying, in effect, "Don't touch it with a ten-foot pole; let the natives have at it and sort it out on their own." It is something else, however, for an official channeling the president of the United States to say, "I profoundly do not believe that the United States could make things better in Syria by being there. And we have an evidentiary record of what happens when we're there—nearly a decade in Iraq." This is the official alibi for not having protected, over the course of five years, one single Syrian civilian from the murderous assaults of Bashar al-Assad.

Yet the official alibi lacks one critical ingredient: the truth. A "decade in Iraq" did not dissuade the Obama administration from protecting Syrian Kurds from a massacre by the Islamic State (ISIS, ISIL, Daesh) in Kobani. Disaster in Iraq did not deter American military forces from protecting Yazidis in Iraq itself. The Iraqi fiasco has not stopped the Obama administration from establishing an anti-ISIS American military presence in both Iraq and Syria: yes, boots on the ground. No: the Rhodes-Obama fear and dismissal of making things better in Syria "by being there" applies only to those parts of Syria experiencing mass murder and massive displacement at the hands of Bashar al-Assad. Why? Iran.

For an American president and his principal subordinates to avert their gazes from mass homicide and from doing anything at all to mitigate or complicate it is far from unprecedented. In this day and age, however, knowing what we know about twentieth century failures to protect civilians thanks to the research and writings of Samantha Power and others, it is stunningly remarkable and regrettable. For a man of Barack Obama's evident humanity and values, surely there has been something of transcendent importance that has stayed his hand from protecting Syrian civilians; something of paramount national security significance that has stopped him from acting in support of American friends and allies trying desperately to deal with the hemorrhage of humanity from Syria. Thanks to Ben Rhodes and his chronicler we know now what it has been: pursuit of a nuclear agreement with Assad's premier long-term enabler and partner in mass murder: Iran.

The following passage from the Samuels piece clarifies why it was important for President Obama to protect no one in Syria, to risk his own reputation in the red-line climb down, and even to assure Iran's Supreme Leader in writing that the Ayatollah's murderous Syrian subordinate would not be touched by (anti-ISIS) American military intervention in Syria:

"By eliminating the fuss about Iran's nuclear program, the administration hoped to eliminate a source of structural tension between the two countries, which would create the space for America to disentangle itself from its established system of alliances with countries like Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Israel, and Turkey. With one bold move, the administration would effectively begin the process of large-scale disentanglement from the Middle East."
To complicate the ability of Iran's man in Syria to commit war crimes and crimes against humanity would have placed at risk nuclear negotiations aimed ultimately at dissolving American relationships of trust and confidence with key regional powers. Yes, the Blob—the foreign policy establishment—would have had a problem with this. Hence an information operation headed by Rhodes aimed at avoiding head-on debates with the Blob or, for that matter, the representatives of the American people in Congress.

Were it not for their enormous suffering, millions of Syrian civilians might find humor in the reason for their abandonment: a desire by the American president to disentangle the United States from long-term cooperative regional relationships. Were it not for the tens of thousands of rockets and missiles pointed at them by Iran's Lebanese militia, Israelis might enjoy the irony of it all. The only players in this drama who need neither humor nor irony to appreciate the importance and value of what is being undertaken are Iran and Russia. 
One cannot help but hope that this is not what 60% of the American people have in mind when they demand an "America First" foreign policy.

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At 9:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Watch the 7th and 8th episodes of the BBC docu-drama "Winston Churchill: The Wilderness Years". Study actor Eric Porter's portrayal of Chamberlain -- the dialog and attitudes, the arrogance, the blind belief in appeasement. In many ways, Barack Obama comes across as a childishly shallow but all-too-real imitation.


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