Skip to comments.America Will Pay a Price for President Obama's Inaction in Syria
Posted on 06/10/2013 3:44:28 AM PDT by Kaslin
Barack Obama's appointments of Susan Rice as national security adviser and Samantha Power as ambassador to the United Nations have naturally triggered speculation about changes in foreign policy.
Rice and Power have been proponents of humanitarian military intervention, a course that Obama followed, gingerly, in Libya -- "leading from behind," as one of his aides put it.
But of course that didn't work out so well. The murder of Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans in Benghazi last September showed that terrorists have a free hand in Libya -- even if the president and Rice, along with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, managed to mislead Americans during campaign season by suggesting the attack resulted from a spontaneous protest of an anti-Muslim video.
After Libya, Obama seemed without appetite to intervene in the much more strategically important Syria. It borders both Israel and Iraq. Under Bashir Assad, it has been an ally of Iran and of the terrorist group Hezbollah, which has held sway in Lebanon and the Gaza Strip.
Getting a Syrian regime that would end ties with Iran would be very much in America's interest. Getting a regime dominated by Islamist terrorists and inclined, unlike Assad's, to launch military attacks on Israel would be very harmful.
Obama expected that Syrian President Bashir Assad would be ousted quickly, as the leaders of Libya and Egypt were. That expectation was widely shared, but history shows that things don't always work out as leaders expect.
In frustration, Obama called for Assad's ouster. But he has declined to declare a no-fly zone over Syria, as Bill Clinton did over Serbia and Iraq, and has declined to provide aid to democratically inclined Syrian rebels.
To be fair, it's hard to identify such people. There are risks to any intervention, as Americans learned in Iraq. The president was faced, as presidents often are, with no easy or clear choices.
Today, two years after the rising against Assad, and after some 80,000 Syrian deaths, the options look even more unpalatable. The dominant rebels seem increasingly hostile to our interests, and the Assad regime may be on the verge of military victory.
But in retrospect Obama seems to have followed the opposite of Teddy Roosevelt's advice. He has spoken loudly and wielded a very tiny stick.
For this he seems likely to pay no great political price back home. Polls show he gets negative ratings on many domestic issues -- especially health care -- and is being hurt by the IRS targeting of conservative groups and the Justice Department's subpoena of press phone records. But on foreign policy, his ratings are still positive.
Few Republicans have shown the stomach to call for a more muscular policy in Syria. They seem to recognize that most Americans, and most Republican voters, have no stomach for much in the way of military interventions after Iraq and Afghanistan.
Republican voters and politicians did support George W. Bush's efforts there. But when Bill Clinton was president, many Republican politicians and voters opposed his actions in Serbia and Kosovo. Bush himself promised a more "humble" foreign policy in the 2000 campaign.
And House Republicans did not, as Obama expected, give in to his demands for higher taxes and were willing to let the sequester defense cuts go into effect, instead. Their constituents do not seem to mind.
The nation seems to be going through one of those periods where Americans are sick and tired of military involvement and prefer to let conflicts fester in far-off lands of which they know very little.
Revulsion at the horrors of World War I led to a period of isolationism starting under the Republicans in the 1920s and reaching a high point in the first years of Franklin Roosevelt's presidency.
The Democratic Party, which had been the more hawkish party from 1917 to 1967, became the more dovish party after its opposition to the Vietnam War, even though the conflict was escalated by Democratic presidents and de-escalated by Republican Richard Nixon.
Eventually American leaders and the American people come to realize that non-intervention has a price. Franklin Roosevelt led America to victory over Nazi Germany and Japan. Ronald Reagan led America to an almost bloodless victory in the Cold War.
Obama seems likely to continue his policy of inaction in Syria, for which America will probably pay a price -- if not immediately, then some time in the future.
That it will.
I don’t believe the US has any business getting entangled there. Just like Eqypt and Libya.
Cops hate domestic disputes for good reason. Most often, when the cop shows up, both sides turn on him and he gets hurt. Such will be the case in Syria. Which of the two evil sides would the US come down on? Assad, is by far, the more attractive as he allowed the Christians and Druze to continue to exist. The “rebels” have promised ethnic cleansing. So, if the US helps them bring down Assad how will the American public, and the world, view the wholesale slaughter of perhaps millions of Christians, Druze, Alawites and others?
This is a wonderful example of when to mind your own business. The US has no strategic interest that can’t be better met by bolstering Israel.
Exactly correct. No business whatsoever.
Barone should be smarter than this.
Obama’s policies are a mess, but it appears deliberately so. Who could be so stupid as to back the Muslim Brotherhood - well, other than John McCain - while trying - albeit weakly - to topple regimes which are all that stand between us and much worse regimes arising in their place?
Carter on Steriods.
But the best that Barone can do is complain of “Obama inaction”??
Even if you equate national interest with the right to wage war, neither side will support US interests in Syria.
Yeah, let’s fight on the side of Al Qaeda so they’ll like us!
A special hello to Obama and the NSA for carefully watching my key strokes!
He got a US ambassador and 3 others killed as a result of his gunrunning to terrorist supported "freedom fighters" in Syria.
Should we just let hothead, Juan MeCain loose on them?
Are we forgetting about the so-called Arab Spring?
The entire Middle East, always a powder keg, has been even more unstable since Obama started fiddling with politics.
Barone is wrong about this.
barone is just a beltway mouthpiece and I no longer trust him or his manufactured analysis of anything.
Syria is not our fight. No more American blood shed or treasure spent on behalf of filthy Moslems.
But in other ways it will. It will inspire more jihadis to go after both Israel and the USA.
That is why security at home must be made stronger.
I won’t disagree about it, and most any Muslim government with power and resources will eventually go against Israel in a direct battle at some point. They will find Israel can take care of herself. I’d caution those leaders to stock up on 50,000 SPF sunblock when they start this.
As for the US, their goal is to take it from within - just like Britain, France, Sweden, et al.
I completely agree. We could’ve bought off Saddam or someone else in the Ba’ath Party. The Christian community has suffered immeasurably since Saddam was overthrown.
Initially I supported OIF, but the “freedom” component is sadly missing for non-muslims.
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