So three years, billions of dollars, and hundreds of thousands of shattered lives later the Obama administration is contemplating, according to Bloomberg, a “retreat” on Syria.
A week into Russia’s military intervention in Syria, some top White House advisers and National Security Council staffers are trying to persuade President Barack Obama to scale back U.S. engagement there, to focus on lessening the violence and, for now, to give up on toppling the Syrian regime.
In addition, administration officials and Middle East experts on both sides of the debate tell us, Obama’s foreign-policy team no longer doubts that Russian President Vladimir Putin intends to prop up President Bashar al-Assad and primarily target opposition groups other than the Islamic State, including those trained by the Central Intelligence Agency.
The war in Syria, the deaths there, the refugee crisis, and the destruction of American alliances by the Russian intervention in Syria are all directly the fault of Barack Obama and his national security team, which included the aged harpy, Hillary Clinton. This war started because the Obama administration was intent on proving that George Bush was an idiot. They believed they had developed a model for overthrowing random despots at virtually no cost to the United States. They were wrong as only a bunch of Ivy League academics with no real-world experience in anything more complicated than faculty lounge politics can be. In a just world, they would be hauled before the same court that tried Serbia war criminals, who, in all fairness, did a helluva lot less destruction.
Apparently, the Obama administration actually thought that Russia would react to one of their client states being toppled and a hostile government being installed in the same way that the US has under Obama: with supine indifference. Russia understands, as we no longer do, that the world looks at how your client states prosper for an indication of what kind of ally you will be. While Obama was complicit in overthrowing Hosni Mubarak in Egypt, Putin is pulling out all the stops, even to the extent of attacking US trained rebels, in order to save Assad. That this comes as a surprise to the White House indicates the near fatal level of naivete that has taken root there.
The new strategy is to “de-escalate.”
At the same time, Obama has ruled out engaging in a proxy war with Putin’s military, leaving few good options. One path, however, would mean finding ways to tamp down the fighting by negotiating small, local ceasefires with the Assad regime.
“The White House somehow thinks we can de-escalate the conflict while keeping Assad in power,” one senior administration official told us.
That view, being pushed by top White House National Security staffers, including senior coordinator for the Middle East Rob Malley,is not new. But it has received fresh emphasis given Russian intervention.
If Assad is staying and there’s no political process in sight, this argument goes, the U.S. might as well focus on alleviating the suffering of the Syrian people and mitigate the growing refugee crisis.
Not to put too fine a point on it, but isn’t this something that should have been thought out before the administration decided to turn one of the episodic revolts in Syria into a full blown regional war?
To that end, the administration is pulling the plug on the Department of Defense program to train Syrian rebels.
The Obama administration has ended the Pentagon’s $500 million program to train and equip Syrian rebels, administration officials said on Friday, in an acknowledgment that the beleaguered program had failed to produce any kind of ground combat forces capable of taking on the Islamic State in Syria.
The problem with this is not that the program was cancelled, it was a monumental failure:
General Lloyd Austin, the commander of U.S. Central Command leading the war on ISIS, told Congress today that only “four or five” of the first 54 U.S.trained moderate Syrian fighters remain in the fight against ISIS.
Christine Wormuth, the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, also told the Senate Armed Services Committee that there are currently between 100 and 120 fighters in a program that was slated to have trained 5,400 fighters in its first 12 months.
Austin told the panel that goal was not going to be met and that options are being explored about how to retool the program which was intended to train moderate Syrian rebels to fight ISIS. So far, $42 million has been spent to develop the $500 million program which began training in April.
But a public announcement of the cancellation simply adds to the narrative of a US foreign policy rout… not that much addition is needed to embellish that narrative. And there is even more naivete.
The administration came to this conclusion late. Despite warnings from U.S. intelligence agencies that Putin’s military buildup was intended to keep Assad in power, the White House nonetheless decided to explore cooperating with Russia on the ground. Throughout the summer and into the fall, top Russian officials — including Putin himself in a meeting last month with Obama at the U.N. — said they were not committed to keeping Assad in power for the long term, and would only target Islamic State fighters in their military offensive, according to U.S. officials.
These officials no longer believe Russia was telling the truth.
Who, exactly, did these clowns think they were dealing with. I just don’t know what to say but this joke comes to mind:
Let’s be very clear on what has happened here. The US provoked this war in Syria. By our actions in Iraq we managed to turn a localized Syrian conflict into a regional war. We created the refugee crisis. The blood of the people killed in Syria is on the hands of this administration. In a just world they would be hauled before the international war crimes court in The Hague and tried just like Serbian war criminals who actually caused much less destruction than this administration.