The Obama administration’s policy on Syria is a strategic disaster that undercuts its entire foreign policy from the Middle East to Asia.
If you think I’m exaggerating, read on.
Bashar Assad — whose exit President Barack Obama has demanded for more than a year — is poised to crush the Syrian rebellion, using money, weapons and manpower provided by Russia, Iran and the Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah.
Washington claims to support moderate rebel fighters, but so far it has delivered only food rations and medical kits — no help against Assad’s missiles and bombs.
After months of debate, White House officials finally announced last week that they will send military aid to the rebels (supposedly because Assad used chemical weapons). But the announcement only made the administration look feckless: The aid will include small arms and ammo, but not the heavy weapons required to stall Assad.
Anti-aircraft weapons, crucial for holding off Assad’s air assaults, aren’t even being considered. This plan is too little, too late.
Meanwhile, the White House “strategy” for Syria — based on the hope that Moscow would push Assad to relinquish power at peace talks in Geneva — has collapsed. Why would Assad (or Russian leader Vladimir Putin) bend when victory is in sight?
Obama doesn’t seem to grasp that Syria has become a strategic contest that the whole world is watching — one that involves core U.S. security interests.
The president’s indecision on Syria has signaled to Russia, Iran and Hezbollah (not to mention China and the Taliban) that they can ignore Obama’s tough talk. It has also strained relations with Arab allies who fear Iran and want to see its hold on Syria broken.
Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., who has long been out front on Syria, spoke last week with Gen. Salim Idris, the military leader of the Syrian opposition, who urged America to send anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons to prevent rebel strongholds from falling.
“If the U.S. is not prepared to provide more robust assistance,” Casey said, “I fear that the moderate opposition forces will be defeated.”
That would embolden Iran and Hezbollah to act more aggressively throughout the region, undercutting core U.S. security interests and threatening Israel.
“The time for U.S. action is overdue,” Casey insisted, rightly. “Assad must go, but this will not happen without decisive leadership from the United States.”
Yet, two years and 93,000 Syrian deaths later, Obama’s advisers still dither, treating the conflict as a local matter, not a wider strategic threat. No doubt the options are daunting, and, at this late date, the chances slimmer than ever for a stable Syria.
But the administration’s reluctance is based on refutable myths.