The Collapse of Obama’s Syria Policy


The US foreign policy conducted by the Obama administration has been a disaster all along. He abandoned Iraq and the rise of ISIS has followed. I have read “Black Flags“, which describes how the al Qeada organization of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi has morphed into ISIS after Obama pulled US forces out of Iraq. Now, as Richard Fernandez explains in another masterful analysis, Assad is about to rout the last of the non-ISIS opposition.

Reuters reports that Bashal al-Assad’s forces have made major advances behind a major Russian air offensive and are now poised to destroy the non-ISIS rebels opposing the Syrian government is rocking the foreign policy establishment. “After three days of intense fighting and aerial bombardment, regime forces, believed to include Iran-backed Shia militias, broke through to the formerly besieged regime enclaves of Nobul and Zahra.”

The Russians have been surprising US military leaders in ways that are very unpleasant.

The performance of the miniature, “rust bucket” Russian air force has formed an invidious baseline to what the USAF has achieved. The Independent reported:

Their army’s equipment and strategy was “outmoded”; their air force’s bombs and missiles were “more dumb than smart”; their navy was “more rust than ready”. For decades, this was Western military leaders’ view, steeped in condescension, of their Russian counterparts. What they have seen in Syria and Ukraine has come as a shock.

Russian military jets have, at times, been carrying out more sorties in a day in Syria than the US-led coalition has done in a month.

We are not serious and the US military has to wonder what will happen if Putin decides to take the Baltic republics.

All this is happening alongside the weak consequences of Hillary Clinton’s massive breach of security in her “e-mail server.”

Remember, Mrs. Clinton reviewed her e-mails before finally surrendering them to the State Department, and she initially insisted there was no classified information in them. Now, it turns out they were so threaded with classified information that the State Department and intelligence agencies have fallen hopelessly behind the court’s disclosure schedule: The task of reviewing the e-mails and redacting the portions whose publication could harm national security has proved much more complicated than anticipated. Thousands of remaining e-mails, and any embarrassing lapses they contain, will be withheld from voters until well into primary season.

From the level of disinterest in this matter shown by Politico in its piece about Clinton’s “vulnerabilities” in the Democrat primary race, there seems to be no interest at all in foreign policy by Democrats. That may change if the Baltic republics are in jeopardy but, perhaps not. Democrats seem to believe that the US is the root of all evil, not our enemies.

As America’s foes gain in the Middle East, the confusion surrounding the administration’s goals correspondingly grows. If Aleppo falls, and its defenders and inhabitants massacred it will prove that Obama cannot protect anyone. A huge humanitarian disaster whose spillover Europe must inevitably endure will ensue. There is genuine international cooperation. Russia generates refugees and Germany absorbs them.

And as for Geneva, well what of it?

Someone has to ask: what goal does America still have in the Middle East beyond defending the tattered political image of president Obama?

I wonder ?

40 thoughts on “The Collapse of Obama’s Syria Policy”

  1. America’s foreign policy ever since the wall fell should have been to get on good terms with Russia, to stop her falling into China’s arms. Bush the Elder seems to have realised this, and it was a natural extension of Reagan’s policy of ending, rather than necessarily winning, the cold war. But since the kiddy-winkies have held the presidency, starting with Slick Willie, the US policy has been mutton-headed, so consistently stupid that it beggars belief.

  2. Alright there is mostly heat and very little light.

    The US, quite some time ago, discovered how regime change is a wonderful way to get what you want in any particular country that you can destabilize. After doing it the hard way in Iraq, and finding out how difficult ownership is, they settled on covert regime change as a great way to control the middle east and adjacent areas.

    Libya was among the first attempts at this and seemed to go well initially. Their client states in the gulf, Qatar and the Saudis really wanted Assad gone so they could build a pipeline from Qatar to Turkey. Qatar has more gas than god you see. The Syrian revolution was really just more regime change with the usual suspects arming the ‘rebels’ fighting for ‘freedom’.

    This initially went rather well, although Assad proved to be a lot harder to remove that most people thought he would be, as he has a loyal army. I’ll fast forward to now. The Russians, most upset by regime change next door. The Ukraine, perhaps the CIAs finest putsch, has really set the cat among the pigeons. As Russia has long time ties to Assad and as he was about to go down, they stepped in. You can be sure they are not going to leave before this is over. As Turkey shot down a Russian plane in Syrian airspace it’s personal now. It appears Turkey is preparing to invade Syria with serious buildup of forces on the border. They have lost their supply route with the linking up of the Syrian army with the Kurds north of Aleppo. The entire rebel army south of there is now in what the Russians call a ‘boiler’, where they will be cooked.

    This is unacceptable to the Turks and all the supporters of the ‘moderate’ rebels, the US,Europe and the Sunnis in the middle east.

    Has popcorn, a comfy chair and a 2560×1600 30″ display. Damn the Russians have some nice stuff. I remember some fool here saying it was junk and useless as a war fighting force. It’s doing far more every day than the US does in a month.

  3. The Russians just sent their top fighter plane to Syria. It’s not likely to see much action, but it’s real purpose is sending a big message to the world that Russia is still a powerful country.

    In all fairness though, it’s a lot easier for Russia to run so many successful sorties when the main objective is that the bombs land on the ground and hit something- anything. We fly so few missions because Obama is afraid to hit anything. God forbid he might kill a Muslim. That’s just what ISIS wants.

  4. The US does not actually fight with ISIS. It’s a very handy tool to attack Syria with. The actual damage done by the US to ISIS is amazingly small. So much so, that the various conspiracy theories, are hard to deny.

    The Russians are aiming those bombs although the narrative is that they are just dumping them on civilians. This is a waste of a bomb in a war like this and they ain’t throwing them away in reality. The close support of troops on the ground is why they are advancing and taking ground.

  5. One of the best things in that Independent article is the fun poked at the preposterous Mr Kerry, ace theologian.

    “[ISIS] are also above all apostates, people who have hijacked a great religion and lie about its real meaning and lie about its purpose and deceive people in order to fight for their purposes.” Priceless. We get the same sort of drivel from David Cameron over here. These chaps obviously missed their vocations.

  6. Since just about everybody is an enemy, they have carte blanche.

    “Black Flags” explains where ISIS came from and why they grew following Obama’s departure.

  7. Russia is playing to win. We are playing to not hurt anybody while looking just tough enough to keep domestic critics quiet.

    Heck, we don’t even know what we want–Turkey, Kurds, ISIS, Russia, Assad, Al Qaeda, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Hezbollah, Hamas, PA–we don’t have a clue.

  8. And because Putin controls the Russian press, he does not have the home press undermining his every move, SJW’s volunteering to go Syria as human shields, or Russian entertainers calling him a war criminal on TV every night. Hell, here in the USA and much of Europe, the Left is in an active alliance with the islamists, so there’s that.

  9. The US military is hamstrung by the pathetically weak politicians and the public who vote them in. If your objective in a “war” is to generate favourable PR for said weaklings, of course nothing will be achieved. If a free-fire shooting war starts, the Russians would be annihilated.

  10. “Maybe the Russians have copies of Clintons e-mails and therefore shape their foreign policy accordingly?” This inspires a thought: if the Russians found her server easy to hack, was there anything much to stop them sending fake e-mails from her server? How many US foreign policy instructions actually came from the Kremlin?

  11. “This Stryker parade won’t fool anyone in Moscow,” says retired Army Colonel Douglas Macgregor.”

    The purpose of Dragoon Crossing wasn’t to convince the Russians that we were militarily superior.
    The purpose was to demonstrate to the entire world the stark moral difference between America and Russia.

    Russia sneaks into Europe under cover of darkness and behind lies. The Russian’s purpose is to protect their narrow interests and the interests of their plutocratic, despotic leaders, plundering and seizing whatever it would take.

    America, on the other hand, marches openly through Europe with a much different message:

    This is how a free army manned by a free people operate. We don’t steal but liberate. Join us and you too shall be free.

  12. “Russia sneaks into Europe under cover of darkness and behind lies. The Russian’s purpose is to protect their narrow interests and the interests of their plutocratic, despotic leaders, plundering and seizing whatever it would take.

    America, on the other hand, marches openly through Europe with a much different message:

    This is how a free army manned by a free people operate. We don’t steal but liberate. Join us and you too shall be free.”

    The funniest thing I have read today. If you believe this … then I have this amazing bridge, you can have real cheap.

  13. I see Penny is still a commie apologist. This is more of the same stale old “Surrender to the Soviets because they are invincible” crap I started hearing in the late 1960’s and all through the Reagan years until the USSR collapsed. Given the crap equipment they have, a standup fight between the US military, even as debilitated as it is now, and the Russian military would be no contest. Sure they’d be tougher than Iraq was, but not that much.

    Look at how Putin recognized Israel could smoke the Russians in Syria by negotiating with them before they went in there.

  14. Ah yes. Joe, it was you claimed the Russian war machine was useless. There’s a no fly zone over most of Syria, only the Russians and the Syrian air force fly in it.

  15. “only the Russians and the Syrian air force fly in it.”

    And the Israelis if they have to take out Syrian reactor.

  16. Both the Israelis and the US have ongoing engagement with the Russian air control. The Israelis have operated in southern Syria, but that appears to have mostly stopped since the Turkish attack. The US does fly in eastern Syria and may have attacked Assad’s forces, once.

    Since the Turkish madness, and he is crazy, no one flies unless Russian air control says so. Some Israeli activity has been permitted and the US is welcome to fly against ISIS. Any Turkish air that crosses that border will immediately shot down.

    To drag in an Israeli mission from before the war started, is certainly reaching.

  17. The Israelis will do what they have to. Whatever understanding they have with Putin probably depends on his continued restraint of Hezbollah. He is more likely than Obama to uphold his end of a deal.

  18. Netanyahu has met with Putin. I suspect they have an understanding. Obama is unreliable and, as long as he is president, and Hillary would be even worse, Putin and Netanyahu are probably in touch.

    I doubt Putin wants to take on Israel with Netanyahu in charge. NATO is at his mercy and Obama is so feckless that he would not know what our interests are.

    Unlike Hitler, Putin probably knows when to leave a potential adversary alone when other prospects are more enticing. I will not be surprised if he moves against the Baltic republics.

    They are just about helpless, which Israel is not.

  19. Richard Fernandez says the situation is ominous in Syria. Obama’s policy has collapsed in ruins.

    But with his diplomatic initiatives failing as badly as his masterful inactivity, as the collapse of the Geneva talks grimly illustrate, president Obama’s European allies are fighting for their lives amid a backlash against admitting a tide of refugees.

    The former Time Magazine “Person of the Year” and candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize has experienced “a harsh reversal of fortune” as the Washington Post reports. “Angela Merkel is really in trouble.”

    This will not end well.

  20. PenGun, for an otherwise moron, you display a wholely different clarity when discussing Russian strategic thinking, what the Russians would and would not be conducive to in Syria, and the superior quality of the Russian armed forces. It’s like a whole new you. A side you only rarely show. Fascinating.

  21. LOL. I try to keep up with what’s going on. The fact I largely disagree with most of what you seem to think does not mean I am unable to discern what’s happening, Au contraire.

    The demonization of Russia and Putin is an American strategy. As the world is getting away from the US, and as China steadily rises, it became important to separate Russia and Europe as the combination, a long term plan of Putin’s, is actually larger than the US in economic output.

    The Ukraine was a perfect way to do this and Vicky Nueland, et al, did a great job there. It did cost some 5 billion dollars but otherwise a steal. It’s been fairly well documented if you have any interest. Anyway this, as I said put the cat among the pigeons, and Putin immediately finessed Crimea and put down markers in the east of the country that are there today.

    From his point of view, a long effort to cooperate with the west and Europe in particular, was rewarded by a knife in the back. Since then, his pivot to Asia, has been quite successful. As well he has taken the opportunity to screw the US and it’s clients in Syria. Although Russia and Syria go way back he is there for some payback. It does give him a space to play with his war toys and they apparently work very well. Proving this stuff in battle is the only way to really test it and there are few better places to do so.

    The Ukraine will probably left, to be as expensive as possible for it’s new masters, the US. They are a truly scurvy crew, the Ukrainian Nazis, trying to out steal each other, is their main occupation.

  22. “They are a truly scurvy crew, the Ukrainian Nazis”

    The parts of Ukraine that Putin has now is mostly Russian speaking and a wreck.

    Putin reversed a course set by Yeltsin to cooperate and be friends, if not allies. Putin is a KGB heavy hitter and has ambitions that are probably beyond Russia’s reach if the US had a competent government.

    Europe in the EU era is feckless, almost as feckless as Obama. Poland and Hungary are run by firm men but Germany is in for a disastrous decade.

  23. Yeltsin was a brutal drunk and sold Russia down the river. Putin is the one who saved Russia and the 80% approval rating, is mainly because the Russian people recognize this fact.

    Putin cooperated with the west to an amazing degree. Allowed US access to Afghanistan, made many deals with the EU and was generally regarded as a useful partner by them.

  24. “It just took me a while to realize PenGun is a Russian. That’s all.”

    I’m in BC on Vancouver Island. A paradise in many ways. I am Irish/Scot almost half and half, it gets me into fights. ;)

    I am interested in what’s going on. I’m retired and spend maybe 2 or 3 hours a day just chasing down various lies so I will have some idea of what the truth probably is. I have great sympathy for the Russians as Vladimir Putin appears to be one of the few adults in international politics. As well any investigation of the facts of the last few years will reveal that he keeps his word. Unusual these days.

  25. We are not serious and the US military has to wonder what will happen if Putin decides to take the Baltic republics.

    Apparently I will die as Western volunteer defending Tallinn.

  26. Assad is about to rout the last of the non-ISIS opposition

    ISIS is the purest form of Islam, not seen since 7 A.H.

  27. spend maybe 2 or 3 hours a day just chasing down various lies

    Need to spend a little more time researching. You are still wrong. You need to refine your search techniques and reading comprehension……

  28. “Need to spend a little more time researching. You are still wrong. You need to refine your search techniques and reading comprehension……”

    Ah a fellow seeker. Here’s an interesting place to look around, Vicky Neuland’s old man’s site. For such a seminal group they are surprisingly poorly informed and maybe you can spot some of those … stupidities. I can recommend the new PDF.

  29. The point Rubio was making was the purposefulness – he may have made it without his usual ability to be both flexible and eloquent, it may be one that Cruz sees, too, but it is an understanding a candidate needs to know to begin to understand what he/she will be up against: Obama may not be the brilliant thinker his admirers thought, but he has had a consistent, if hard to believe, policy.

  30. Ginny,

    I think you’ve touched the nub of the issue. Obama is remarkably inept by conventional measures, but unlike most of the people opposing him he knows what he wants and goes after it relentlessly.

  31. If anyone is interested in the large Russian mobilization in it’s forces bordering Turkey and the Ukraine, the Treaty of Kars is instructive.

    Steadily ramping up the pressure on Erdogan. We’ll see what that crazy person will do next.

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