from Pressure Points and Middle East Program

Haunted by Syria?

January 06, 2014

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"When the history of the Obama administration is written, there will be a long and damaging chapter on its immense humanitarian and strategic failure in Syria. With three years of Obama yet to come, we have not even seen the full humanitarian disaster play out​—​nor have we yet confronted the dangers that are arising there from the vast jihadist presence."

That is how my article in the newest issue of The Weekly Standard begins. In it I trace the sad story of Obama policy toward Syria, where American strategic and humanitarian interests met--yet the administration still did nothing to advance them. Or perhaps one must say the President himself did nothing, for most of his top Cabinet advisers urged stronger action: Clinton, Gates, Panetta, Kerry. But the President rejected the advice, and we now see something like 200,000 dead, a regime that used chemical weapons but that we have given up trying to remove or punish, 6 million people displaced and homeless, and the gathering presence of ten thousand jihadis at the center of the Middle East.

In establishing his "Atrocities Prevention Board" in 2012, the President said

Awareness without action changes nothing. .  .  . “Never again” is a challenge to nations. It’s a bitter truth​—​too often, the world has failed to prevent the killing of innocents on a massive scale. And we are haunted by the atrocities that we did not stop and the lives we did not save.

The article notes that  "As the year ended Obama was golfing in Hawaii; evidence that he was haunted is difficult to come by."

As the article concludes, the President

is presiding over a humanitarian disaster where war crimes and atrocities occur each day and he responds with speeches. He is conceding a strategic victory to Iran and Hezbollah, who have decided to win in Syria and have rejected the administration line that “there is no military solution.” He has weakened our own alliances, for example dragging British prime minister David Cameron into a dispiriting defeat in the House of Commons when he rushed to join a military strike that Obama soon abandoned. He is endangering our safety by allowing jihadists to turn Syria into their world center of activity. And over the next three years, he is likely to reap what he has sowed. The problem is, so will we.

The full text is here.