"What kind of world will we live in if the United States of America sees a dictator brazenly violate international law with poison gas and we choose to look the other way?"
- President Obama, September 10, 2013
Well, both Obama and his favorite newspaper, The New York Times, chose to look the other way. The Times at first pretended that there was no concrete proof that Syrian President Assad butchered his own people with sarin gas, while Obama sought to avoid honoring his "red line" involving Assad's use of chemical weapons by passing the buck to Congress (although he was not willing to accede to the will of a majority of both houses of Congress regarding his nuclear deal with Khamenei). Next, Obama agreed to a deal brokered by Putin for the surrender of Assad's chemical weapons stockpiles, but when it turned out that the Syrian dictator had not turned over all his "inventory" and that he was continuing to use chemical weapons against regime opponents, America's president did absolutely nothing.
Thomas Friedman begins his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Syria, Obama and Putin" by declaring, "Your Honor, I rise again in defense of President Barack Obama’s policy on Syria." Policy? Which policy is that? Impotence?
Friedman goes on to observe:
"Putin stupidly went into Syria looking for a cheap sugar high to show his people that Russia is still a world power. Well, now he’s up a tree. Obama and John Kerry should just leave him up there for a month — him and Assad, fighting ISIS alone — and watch him become public enemy No. 1 in the Sunni Muslim world. 'Yo, Vladimir, how’s that working for you?'
The only way Putin can get down from that tree is with our help in forging a political solution in Syria. And that only happens if the Russians and the Iranians force Assad — after a transition — to step down and leave the country, in return for the opposition agreeing to protect the basic safety and interests of Assad’s Alawite community, and both sides welcoming an international force on the ground to guarantee the deal.
But to get there we need to size our rhetoric with our interests in Syria as well. Our interests right now are to eliminate or contain the two biggest metastasizing threats: ISIS — whose growth can threaten the islands of decency in the region like Lebanon, the Kurds and Jordan — and the tragedy of Syrian refugees, whose numbers are growing so large they are swamping Lebanon and Jordan and, if they continue, could destabilize the European Union, our vital partner in the world."
There are only two big "metastasizing threats" - ISIS and the Syrian refugee tragedy? Horsefeathers! As if Iranian military and financial support to Hezbollah, Hamas and the Houthis does not constitute a threat, particularly after Russia has now joined forces with Iran, Hezbollah and what remains of Assad's army in Syria. And what will be after Iran receives a cash infusion of some $100 billion from Obama's nuclear deal with Khamenei? The money will be used to create jobs in Tehran, Mashhad and Tabriz and will not be funneled to Iran's terrorist proxies? Yeah, right!
"I think Putin’s rash rush into Syria may in the end make him more in need of a deal, or at least a lasting cease-fire, that stops the refugee flows. If we can do that, for now, we will have done a lot."
However, it is no longer a matter of what "we can do." Rather, it has become a matter of what Putin will decide to do. Putin brokered the chemical weapons arrangement, allowing Obama to climb down from his "red line" tree, and the United States must now hope and pray that Vladimir will take it upon himself to broker an end to Syria's civil war? Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan and Turkey are all watching as Obama continues to abnegate moral responsibility in the Middle East and around the globe.
Meanwhile, according to Debkafile, Russia has "sent an official demarche ordering US planes to quit Syria, adding that Russian fighter jets were now flying over Syrian territory." I suppose this is all in accordance with the "flexibility" that Obama promised Putin after Obama's reelection.
Indeed, in what kind of world do we live?