Two former officials that served as top foreign policy advisers to President Obama are speaking out against the former president, arguing that his inaction made the world “more dangerous.”
The former officials spoke out following President Trump’s decision to act in Syria following the chemical weapons attack.
Trump’s decision to act swiftly and decisively was something these former Obama administration officials wanted to see Obama do in 2013 when the world saw what Assad was doing to his own people.
“I think he left a more dangerous world,” Barry Pavel, senior director for defense policy and strategy on the U.S. National Security Council staff from 2008 to 2010, said to Fox News.
“In Syria, a major mistake was treating it like a humanitarian crisis, when it was a major national security crisis that has caused destabilization on our closest allies in Europe,” Pavel said.
“Syria has been a source of terrorist attacks in Europe and the United States, and future attacks. I worry about that very much.”
Pavel argued that Obama’s inaction in several areas of the world sent the message that the United States wouldn’t intervene when we needed to, and it bolstered our enemies.
“Potential adversaries know we had the capability, but not the will to strike out at aggressive actions by certain nations against their neighbors or their own people.”
“Because they knew that the Obama administration would never use military force for any purpose, they felt free to conduct their coercive actions in the South China Seas, the Russians went into Iran and Syria and North Korea accelerated their nuclear arms program.”
Gary Samore, who served as Obama’s White House coordinator for arms control and weapons of mass destruction (WMD) for four years, argued that the Iran nuclear deal — achieved under Obama — has been effective in that it proves not all enemies can be handled in the exact same way.
Meaning, one can deal with enemies both politically or militarily. The two former officials are highlighting that Obama’s “tough talk” diplomacy never translated into our enemies complying.
Thus, Trump has chosen to use military force to make our enemies comply.
“The constraints that Obama negotiated are holding,” Samore, who is executive director of research at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University, said.
“But who knows, in a couple of years they might renege on the agreement. It’s true that you cannot trust the Iranians, but can we spot cheating? The agreement has mechanisms for us to restore U.N. sanctions. If we can catch them cheating we have much stronger rationale for using the military. We can say we tried the diplomatic approach, it gives you a stronger argument for using the military.”
Both former Obama officials offered praise to Trump’s military strike against Syria.
“I applaud Trump,” Samore said. “It was the kind of strike that Obama was planning – a limited military attack against the airfields in order to deter Assad from carrying out additional chemical weapons attacks, but he decided not to use it. Obama made a huge mistake by saying he was going to go to Congress for authorization, it turned out he did not have the votes.”
“Trump was very smart to do it without congressional support,” Samore said.
“I think the Trump administration is putting the world on notice,” Pavel said. “The U.S. can use military force to achieve particular goals without getting mired in a protracted conflict.”
Both men were correct when they argued that there is no “one-size-fits-all” approach to solving a conflict, but many people across party lines agree that something desperately needed to be done in Syria and Trump’s decision to act sent the correct message to everyone across the world.