What U.S. Retreat Looks LikePosted: October 2, 2015
Syria Reveals the Chaos of a World Without American Leadership.
A friend of ours quipped amid the Iraq debate of 2003 that the only thing Europeans dislike more than U.S. leadership is a world without it. Well, we are now living in such a world, and the result is the disorder and rising tide of war in the Middle East that even the Obama Administration can no longer dismiss. How do you like it?
“The world is watching, aghast, yet we are now told by the same people who told us to stay out of Syria that Mr. Putin has fallen into his own quagmire. We doubt that’s how they see it in Moscow, Tehran or Damascus.”
The epicenter of the chaos is the Syrian civil war now into its fifth year. President Obama justified his decision to steer clear of the conflict by pointing to a parade of horribles if the U.S. assisted the opposition to Bashar Assad. Every one of those horribles—and more—has come to pass in the wake of his retreat.
Syria has become a “geopolitical Chernobyl,” as former General David Petraeus recently put it. It was the breeding ground for Islamic State and is a new sanctuary for terrorism. It has nurtured a growing regional conflict between Shiite and Sunni Muslims, while unleashing the worst refugee crisis on Europe since World War II. And now it has become an arena for potential major power conflict as Vladimir Putin forms an alliance with Iran to make Russia the new Middle East power broker.
“The U.S. has been caught unaware and nonplussed. The White House has been left to stammer in protest and send Secretary of State John Kerry to negotiate the terms of U.S. irrelevance.”
Mr. Putin unveiled his strategy this week with a disdain for a U.S. President unseen in a Russian leader since Nikita Khrushchev “beat the hell out of” John Kennedy, as JFK put it, at the Vienna summit in 1961. Mr. Putin coaxed Mr. Obama to grant him a private meeting, then told the world to rally behind his alternative coalition to fight Islamic State and prop up the Assad regime. It’s as if he set up Mr. Obama for humiliation.
Now Russian planes are bombing in Syria—but not Islamic State targets. They are bombing the anti-Assad forces that the U.S. has haltingly supported. The U.S. has been caught unaware and nonplussed. The White House has been left to stammer in protest and send Secretary of State John Kerry to negotiate the terms of U.S. irrelevance.
The world is watching, aghast, yet we are now told by the same people who told us to stay out of Syria that Mr. Putin has fallen into his own quagmire. We doubt that’s how they see it in Moscow, Tehran or Damascus.
For a limited deployment of 2,000 soldiers and some weapons, Mr. Putin is showing Russians their country has global influence again. He needn’t waste Russian blood because Hezbollah provides the cannon fodder. And he needn’t defeat Islamic State as long as he carves out an Alawite protectorate around Damascus and Syria’s coast. Mr. Assad needs Islamic State as an enemy for now because he can pose as the lesser evil. His goal—and the Kremlin’s—is to slowly win Western agreement that Mr. Assad is necessary for Syrian stability.
Mr. Putin is also showing that Russia is an ally to be trusted, in contrast to an America that abandoned Iraq in 2011 and won’t fight ISIS with conviction…..(read more)
- Putin defends Russia’s military assistance to Syrian regime (sandiegouniontribune.com)
- Russia Raises The Stakes In Syria (hereandnow.wbur.org)
- Putin defends Russia’s military assistance to Syrian regime (independent.ie)
- Putin saves the day: Russia plans to unite world to solve Syrian conflict (inform.kz)
- Bashar Assad: ‘The West Wants to Get Rid of Me and Putin’ (thetruenews.info)
- Russia Sending Anti Aircraft Missile to Syria (guardianlv.com)
- Report: Russia, U.S., Saudi Arabia in talks over easing Assad out of power (haaretz.com)