Earlier in the week, former SecDef Donald Rumsfeld had some rather harsh words to say about the current administration’s relationship with Afghanistan.
“Our relationship with Karzai and with Afghanistan was absolutely first-rate in the Bush administration,” Rumsfeld told Fox News’s Greta Van Susteren on Monday. “It has gone down hill like a toboggan ever since the Obama administration came in.”
Rumsfeld pointed to the fact that the Obama administration has failed to get Karzai to sign an agreement that would allow some U.S. troops to remain in Afghanistan after 2014, when combat ends.
The U.S. has status of forces agreements with more than a hundred countries, Rumsfeld noted. “A trained ape can get a status of forces agreement,” he said. “It does not take a genius. And we have so mismanaged that relationship.”
Now I’m not going to go for the troll about that being a “racist statement”. Neither of our SecStates or SecDefs were/are black and that’s who would be charged with getting a SOFA agreement. Rumsfeld’s right. The relationship has dramatically and drastically changed. And he’s also right about why:
“And what happened is, the United States government — and I realize these are tough jobs, being president or secretary of state. But, by golly, they have trashed Karzai publicly over and over and over — (Richard) Holbrooke, the special envoy did, Vice President Biden did, Secretary Hillary Clinton has. The president has been unpleasant to him.
“And it seems to me they pushed him in a political box where he really has very little choice. I think there is probably not a politician in the world who dealing with the United States, instead of having the United States deal with him privately through private diplomacy, came out repeatedly, publicly, in an abusive, unpleasant, manner. And I personally sympathize with him to some extent.”
Again, he’s precisely right. This administration did all it could … in public … to poison the relations. And yes, Afghanistan is likely corrupt and Karzai as well, but that’s nothing new there. Karzai was installed by the Afghanistan’s Loya Jirga (assembly). He’s their president. It’s a tribal culture. Figure it out for heaven sake … oh, and keep in mind the big picture instead of playing small ball.
Anyway, these sorts of actions cause reactions and have consequences. The latest?
Citing “the free will of the Crimean people,” Karzai’s office said, “We respect the decision the people of Crimea took through a recent referendum that considers Crimea as part of the Russian Federation.” To date, only Syria and Venezuela have taken a similar position.
Does it embarrass the US publicly? You bet. And that’s precisely why Karzai did it (or it is at least one of the reasons he did it). And, there’s more:
“In Afghanistan, Russian officials point to their development activities as a counterexample to U.S. aid projects, which many Afghans criticize as wasteful and misguided. . . . Many Afghans, including President Hamid Karzai, praise the Soviet model even though they fought a bloody 10-year war against the country’s army, which invaded in 1979 to support an unpopular communist government.
“The Soviet money went to the right place. They were efficient in spending their money and doing it through the Afghan government,” Karzai said in an interview with The Washington Post this month.
Yes, there’s likely corruption. Yes the “Afghan government” is likely getting its hands on some of that money. But when in Rome, and looking for particular results, maybe knowing what to expect in such a culture and a willingness to play the game might turn out better results (and be cheaper) in the long run that trying to go around the incumbent government and forcing yourself on the population. You know, just a thought … which, apparently is more than our State Department commits to Afghanistan anymore.
Funny, in an ironic sense, isn’t it? “We welcome our former overlords”.
Outplayed by Russia … again.
When the Russians more or less militarily annexed the Crimea a couple of days ago , it was pretty obvious the West wasn’t going to go to war over it, any previously mumbled promises to Ukraine that implied we might aside. It’s still obvious, not that avoiding a war is a bad thing and all.
Who can blame Europe for not wanting another war? They’ve hosted so many, and I’m reliably told if you wander about you can still find nostalgic bits of wreckage to prove it. There are parts left over from wars everywhere. Castles, forts, the Kaiser Wilhelm church (what’s left of it) in Berlin. Graves….lots and lots of graves. Graves of local men, and graves of men who came from across the world, and graves of civilians.
In January of this year, in Euskirchen Germany, a bulldozer operator was killed by a bomb from WWII, and it’s not uncommon for unexploded ordnance to be found, some dating back to the big fandango they held 100 years ago this year. The Europeans have done a super job of cleaning up the place, and I’m 100% certain they aren’t interested in having to do it again anytime soon.
This is why, no one, not even the allegedly crazy Russians, really wants to die for real-estate to get it back into Russia. Maybe some Ukrainians are willing to die out of pride for Ukraine, but the Russians prefer it be done with the bare minimum of shooting, explosions and death. Even ‘crazy’ ‘evil’ people understand that upsets folks, and the shooting, explosions and death get out of control, and pretty soon it’s happening everywhere in sight. The Russians don’t want a war either, but they’re not averse to picking up (re-acquiring) some real-estate on the cheap.
For my entire life we, Americans, helped keep the Russians from taking over the joint by being in places they wanted to be before they could be there. Kudos to NATO and all for asking us to stay. But everybody knew when we parked Americans in their path all across Europe and the Russians did drive tanks through Fulda Gap…if they did it over American bodies; America was likely to take a war-like exception to it. Geo-politics and military science is brutally practical about things like that, and the Russians understood. America was across the ocean and much harder for Soviet tank division to blitzkrieg than a quick push to the east bank of the Rhine. We made it difficult for them by being where they wanted to be in ways that only war, or government over throw, could clear us out of. We stood in Western Europe and they stood in Eastern Europe and we glared at each other. The Europeans understood where the fight was going to happen if it happened. If some were nicer to the Soviets (now the Russians) than we liked, it was probably out of practicality. At times they glared at both us and the Russians.
The ‘other’ people further east, in the Russian zone, just had to live with the Russians because clearing them out would wreck the joint, and everybody knew that too. They didn’t glare at anybody because they didn’t dare. Then the Soviet Union/Eastern Bloc collapsed, they became Russians again and Ukrainians and Latvians and Estonians and Lithuanians and Moldovans and Serbs and you get the idea.
The Europeans don’t want a war, the Russians don’t want a war, we don’t want a war. Having so much experience in wars, and cleaning up after wars, one can understand the reluctance to do the centennial anniversary reenactment of 1914 this year with live rounds.
Still, Russian occupation of the Crimea should never have happened if the West was sincere about helping the Ukrainians keep their lands (especially after the Russians vs Georgia take-down in 2008). I have mixed emotions about our policing the world, and our commitments to far flung places. But our word has to mean something too, and if we bother to give it, we ought to keep it. Not keeping it leads to where we are, drawing red lines and erasing them just as quickly, making threats on an international basis and then barring a couple people from Disney World to show how much we mean it. There’s a whole set of posts that could be written on why we let down our guard in Europe. A quick hit list, military use fatigue, the cost, the simple hope that the not Soviet Russians weren’t going to start up the ‘let’s take over a country’ club again, resurgent Russian pride, feckless American policy, and a new world order.
The biggest one we hear about is this inane belief in some new order that has taken hold. A magic set of rules for countries came into being when we hit the millennium. Who knew? It’s not clear, to me anyway, why that is, must be a side effect of climate change or something because I don’t recall any burning bushes or Jewish prophets with stone tablets making the news recently. I do know our Secretary of State thinks they exist ( I mentioned feckless American policy); Angela Merkel seems to think they exist. But maybe no one forwarded the memos to Vladimir Putin, because all in all he seems pretty proud of using the old rules, and so are his constituents.
No, there is no magic set of new rules. I can’t even say it would be nice, because not only is it not real, it’s not even clearly laid out what it means internationally. Furthermore the old rules still work and still apply. Power and vacuums of power. In fact these new rules already seem remarkably ineffective against people who still use the old rules. As a result there aren’t any new magic formulas or methods for getting the Russians to give Crimea back now either. They certainly aren’t going to do it because we in the West tell each other that Russia is naked in the eyes of the world. They aren’t going to do it no matter how many times some idiot calls them ‘evil’. They aren’t going to do it because they suddenly understand they’re violating the 21st century rules.
Just because the West doesn’t want to apply power doesn’t mean the Russians can’t and won’t. When a country can take over a chunk of another country in a week, there really isn’t much threats that will take months to show effect are going to do to stop them. Done deals. Because people don’t want to wait that long for results (especially the Ukrainians in this case), and life, and business, and in Europe’s case, the need to heat their houses, goes on.
If the West is serious, and worried about the Russians moving into Kiev, park ‘non-threatening’ NATO forces in Kiev. Not just visiting, full time. Park a ‘non-threatening’ contingent of ground troops in Estonia (note the date of that article, last year…). See if the other Baltic countries would like to have permanent physical NATO contingents with troops who are not local. Go beyond ‘air policing’. Put the equivalent of a guard contingent on the equivalent of the Rhine bridges before the Russians do the equivalent of occupying the Rhineland.
And hit our own damn power reset button. Drill like hell for natural gas and oil here in the US and export it to Europe to cut their dependence on Russia. The Russians will understand, they’ll bitch, but they’ll stop because they really don’t want the same war we don’t want. There can’t be a whole lot in Estonia the Russians want to die for.
Project POWER back into the vacuum we’ve created before Putin again proves the old rules, the same ones Hitler used so well, still work just fine. Do it before Chamberlain calls to say he wants his ‘new’ rules back.
Not gonna happen, I realize. We have ‘smart’ diplomacy now, we lead from behind. We’re going to jaw about the new international rules the millennium brought us, and threaten the Russians with our economic power even while we struggle to keep that power turned on for ourselves.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has declared the G8 to be dead, thanks to Russia’s take over of the Crimea:
German Chancellor Angela Merkel declared the Group of Eight leading nations defunct given the current crisis in Ukraine, in a clear message to Russia that the world’s seven other major industrialized countries consider its actions in Ukraine unacceptable. “As long as there is no political environment for such an important political format as the G-8, the G-8 doesn’t exist anymore, not the summit nor the format,” said Ms. Merkel, in Germany’s parliament, the Bundestag. “Russia is widely isolated in all international organizations,” the chancellor said.
Ah, yes, the old “isolated in all international organizations” gambit. And what have all the “international organizations” done in reaction to Russia’s Crimean takeover? About what they did when Russia pushed into Georgia. A whole lot of nothing. It is one thing to have international organizations that have teeth and are willing to do something in reaction to such a blatant act. But when they mostly issue statements condeming the action and void the Netflix accounts of certain Russian officals, being isolated from those organizations isn’t such a big deal. All it does is make further diplomatic efforts more difficult, not that it is clear that Russia is open to diplomatic overtures.
Another thing that is happening is Europe is discovering it has managed to put itself in an energy situation that isn’t at all to its advantage. 30% of Europe’s natural gas flows through Russian pipelines (Germany gets 40% of its natural gas supplies from Russia).
So the scramble is purportedly on to change that situation.
European leaders will seek ways to cut their multi-billion-dollar dependence on Russian gas at talks in Brussels on Thursday and Friday, while stopping short of severing energy ties with Moscow for now. EU officials said the current Ukraine crisis had convinced many in Europe that Russia was no longer reliable and the political will to end its supply dominance had never been greater. “Everyone recognises a major change of pace is needed on the part of the European Union,” one EU official said on condition of anonymity. As alternatives to imported gas, the Brussels talks will debate the European Union’s “indigenous supplies”, which include renewable energy and shale gas.
Now, one would think that such a situation would call for drastic and speedy action. Anyone want to bet how long they dither and, should they decide to exploit their “indigenous supplies”, how onerous the rules and regulations will be?
When leaders of the European Union’s member states meet today and tomorrow (20-21 March) in Brussels, they hope to reach consensus on the EU’s long-term climate goals. But agreement appears unlikely because of deep divisions between east and west. Ahead of the summit, ministers from 13 member states signed a declaration supporting a European Commission proposal for an EU commitment to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 40% from 1990 levels by 2030 – up from a 20% target set for 2020. This ‘green growth group’ includes France, Germany, Italy and the UK. But Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia are wary of the target and the timeline, and are resisting any such commitment.
The latter group will most likely be all for moving ahead as speedily as possible to exploit “indigenous supplies”. They’ll meet some pretty stiff headwinds, apparently, from the Western EU nations. You can almost see this train wreck coming.
Meanwhile in the pursuit of “green energy”, Europe is apparently ready to toss in the towel:
Governments across Europe, regretting the over-generous deals doled out to the renewable energy sector, have begun reneging on them. To slow ruinous power bills hikes, governments are unilaterally rewriting contracts and clawing back unseemly profits.
You have to laugh. “Unseemly profits”? They’re subsidies, sir. Not profit.
It’ll be interesting to see if the EU has the will to sort this all out in the next couple of days. If one is a betting person, you’d have to guess that the odds for success are long, given the EU’s recent history.
One of the foreign policy promises Barack Obama made was that during his presidency, America would have a “light footprint” on world affairs. Our first indicator of what that meant was the action in Libya when the US “led from behind”. The Obama administration belived that pulling back from our strong presence and position in the world would help mollify other powers and usher in a new era of peaceful cooperation with America as a partner and not necessarily the leader.
How has that worked out?
The White House was taken by surprise by Vladimir V. Putin’s decisions to invade Crimea, but also by China’s increasingly assertive declaration of exclusive rights to airspace and barren islands.
Neither the economic pressure nor the cyberattacks that forced Iran to reconsider its approach have prevented North Korea’s stealthy revitalization of its nuclear and missile programs. In short, America’s adversaries are testing the limits of America’s post-Iraq, post-Afghanistan moment.
“We’re seeing the ‘light footprint’ run out of gas,” said one of Mr. Obama’s former senior national security aides, who would not speak on the record about his ex-boss.
What we’re actually seeing is naivete in foreign policy head toward a predictable conclusion. Foreign policy isn’t bean bag and it has been established many times in history that the retreat of a great power from the world’s stage will see other seemingly lesser powers attempt to fill or take advantage of that power vacuum.
The “light footprint” didn’t “run out of gas”, the light footprint was foreign policy destined for failure from its inception. Mr. Obama and his foreign policy team were warned about that constantly and preferred to ignore both the warnings and history.
Mr. Obama acknowledges, at least in private, that he is managing an era of American retrenchment. History suggests that such eras — akin to what the United States went through after the two world wars and Vietnam — often look like weakness to the rest of the world. His former national security adviser Thomas Donilon seemed to acknowledge the critical nature of the moment on Sunday when he said on “Face the Nation” that what Mr. Obama was facing was “a challenge to the post-Cold War order in Europe, an order that we have a lot to do with.”
But while Mr. Donilon expressed confidence that over time the United States holds powerful tools against Russia and other nations, in the short term challengers like Mr. Putin have the advantage on the ground.
Mr. Obama is managing “an era of American retrenchment” he initiated.
It doesn’t look like a period of weakness to the rest of the world, it is a period of weakness that is compounded by our weak leadership. We’re engaged in bringing our military down to pre-WWII levels and we’ve made it clear that we’re not interested in fulfilling treaty obligations with the likes of the Ukraine. How else would one interpret our actions?
And, of course, one of the best ways we could address this particular crisis is to up our shipments of natural gas to Europe so they weren’t dependent of Russian pipeline supplies that flow through the Ukraine. That would give Europe some leverage because they wouldn’t be held hostage by their need for Russian petro supplies. But on the domestic front, the Obama administration has made building the necessary infrastructure to cash in on our growing natural gas boom almost impossible.
Are Russia and others testing the limits? You bet they are and all of those interested in those limits are watching this drama unfold. To this point, it appears Russia sees no downside to its action. Should that continue to be the case, you can be assured other nations will also “test the limits.”
This is Mr. Obama’s 3am phone call. And it appears he has let it go to the answering machine.
Not that some aren’t still trying their hardest to pull it off. Face it, his has been one of the most dismal presidencies in history and it isn’t getting any better. However, reading through the headlines about the Ukraine, I came across an Orwellian piece that declares, “No, American weakness didn’t encourage Putin to invade the Ukraine“. Instead, it’s all about how the US has, in fact, broadened it’s power, expanding east, that encouraged Putin’s invasion.
No. Really. That’s the case that the author of the piece is trying to convey. We’re not weaker, we’re not in retreat, in fact, we’re more powerful than ever.
Gee, how about that. In the anarchy that is world politics, we now have the weak trying to counter the strong by invading another country instead of the more inuitive and usual reaction to a power vacuum caused by the retreat of a once great power. The author claims that the expansion of NATO threatened Russia. Wait, isn’t that 20th century thinking? Aren’t we being chided for dropping back on those old cold war theories?
Well, not when you’re tying to defend “The One” and you haven’t much to work with in a particular case.
The fact remains that Putin did what he did because he knew he could and he knew the reaction would be loud, but the response would be tepid. And, of course, when you look at a map of the pipelines that flow from Russia through the Ukraine and into Europe you know that any attempted sanctions will likely be met with counter sanctions by limiting fuel and, in the end, imposing a much higher cost on Europe than Russia.
Putin is a 20th century cold warrior and he knows how to play this game, even in the 21st century. Our leaders? They’re in denial.
Putin knows when he’s faced by a weak willed, “can’t we all just get along” Western leadership. He learned that with Georgia and Syria. Why in the world would he fret about the West’s reaction to Ukraine?
But the apologists want you to know that it isn’t Barry’s fault. He may have be weak willed and prefer “leadership from the rear”, but it realty the Ukraine was invaded beause we’re so strong and powerful. And black is white, up is down and right is wrong. The only 20th century date you can apply to this piece is “1984”.
With the Olympics safely over, Vladimir Putin felt safe to invade the Ukraine and annex the Crimea. Anyone want to take a guess why?
It has to do with “red lines” and words, not action. Those red lines were first drawn in Syria. And when they were crossed … nothing happened. So:
“Putin smelled blood in the water when the airstrikes against the Assad regime were suddenly called off,” Oubai Shahbandar, a senior advisor to the Syrian National Coalition, the U.S.-backed opposition group, said of the Ukraine invasion. “We’ve seen this movie play out before, sadly, as Russian-supplied planes, tanks and even some mercenaries continue to arrive in Syria uninterrupted.”
“Hope won’t stop Russian aggression,” Shahbandar added.
Ah, but we’re talking about “hope and change”. You know, the stuff that will calm the tides, still the wind and, well, fix anything. All the Great One has to do is speak the words and the world trembles in fear. Our first post-modern President is of the ilk that believes talk equals action. And he’s talked about it now, so its time to move on and bash Israel.
Meanwhile, all those red lines drawn and crossed in Syria rightfully have the Syrians leary of any promises from the US:
The Syrian opposition had long held out hope for significant U.S. support for their uprising, from heavy weapons and surface-to-air missiles to a no-fly zone. They argued that Assad’s main allies — Russia and Iran — had been steadfast in boosting his regime with arms and money, and in the latter case, with boots on the ground.
Many Syrians were deeply disappointed when Obama failed to enforce his famous “red line” on the Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons with air strikes — opting instead for a Moscow-initiated deal for the regime to give up its stockpile of chemical arms. “Do not develop strategies that are based on any assumption that the U.S. or EU will demonstrate assertive leadership to deter Russian aggression,” said Amr al-Azm, a U.S.-based member of the Syrian opposition and a professor at Shawnee State University.
And Ukraine, that treaty you have the the US?
“The last thing anybody wants is a military option,” Kerry said Sunday.
Seems to me Russia has already used in Mr. Kerry.
Do I want our military involved in another war? Not under this leadership, no. When the leaders are both gutless and clueless, our troops need to stay home. But that’s really not the point here. The point is the happenings in the Ukraine are a direct result of some of the worst foreign policy ineptness we’ve had to suffer under in a couple of centuries. It almost makes one pine for Jimmy Carter.
So … how’s that “reset” going?
Yes, I called it a surprise facetiously. Does Obama do anything that doesn’t fail (other than campaign)?
Meanwhile, two-faced government continues because, well you know, telling the real truth outloud just isn’t politically smart – especially with this administration’s record:
Two prominent Republican senators say that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told them — along with 13 other members of a bipartisan congressional delegation — that President Barack Obama’s administration is in need of a new, more assertive, Syria policy; that al-Qaeda-affiliated groups in Syria pose a direct terrorist threat to the U.S. homeland; that Russia is arming the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and is generally subverting chances for a peaceful settlement; that Assad is violating his promise to expeditiously part with his massive stores of chemical weapons; and that, in Kerry’s view, it may be time to consider more dramatic arming of moderate Syrian rebel factions.
Kerry is said to have made these blunt assertions Sunday morning behind the closed doors of a cramped meeting room in the Bayerischer Hof hotel in Munich, as the 50th annual Munich Security Conference was coming to a close in a ballroom two floors below. A day earlier, Kerry, in a joint appearance with U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on the ballroom stage, gave an uncompromising defense of the Obama administration’s level of foreign engagement: saying that,“I can’t think of a place in the world where we’re retreating.”
Really, Mr. Kerry?
Obama/Kerry’s Iran, Egypt, Afghanistan, Syria and Russian policies have been failures. Israel has taken to actually ridiculing US efforts. Saudi Arabia is said to be looking for a new patron in the Middle East.
And yet, given all of that, Kerry is still the loyal waterboy making false claims when anyone with an IQ higher than warm spit can see that during the Obama administration we’ve done nothing but retreat.
Being charitable, maybe Kerry meant we’re no longer retreating because, well, we’ve retreated about as far as is possible to retreat.
Oh, and yes, I saw the Obama/O’Reilly interview. It had the same gripping suspense and entertainment content as the Superbowl. In the case of Denver it was safety, interception, fumble, collapse. Obama was deny, deny, deny, blame, deny reality some more and then cast even more blame.
The kingdom is citing how badly this administration has botched events with both Syria and Iran as the reason:
Upset at President Barack Obama’s policies on Iran and Syria, members of Saudi Arabia’s ruling family are threatening a rift with the United States that could take the alliance between Washington and the kingdom to its lowest point in years.
Saudi Arabia’s intelligence chief is vowing that the kingdom will make a ‘major shift’ in relations with the United States to protest perceived American inaction over Syria’s civil war as well as recent U.S. overtures to Iran, a source close to Saudi policy said on Tuesday.
Prince Bandar bin Sultan told European diplomats that the United States had failed to act effectively against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, was growing closer to Tehran, and had failed to back Saudi support for Bahrain when it crushed an anti-government revolt in 2011, the source said.
Guess all that bowing and scraping by Obama didn’t impress them much. So let’s review. Libya … destabilized and in a virtual state of anarchy. Egypt … gone. Totally mishandled and now looking at other possible alliances. Saudi Arabia … going. Syria and Iran … well into Russia’s orbit. Oh, yeah, that’s much better than when Bush was prez.
Meanwhile our Secretary of State is telling everyone relations with Saudi Arabia are both good and normal.
In unusually blunt public remarks, Prince Turki al-Faisal called Obama’s policies in Syria ‘lamentable’ and ridiculed a U.S.-Russian deal to eliminate Assad’s chemical weapons. He suggested it was a ruse to let Obama avoid military action in Syria.
‘The current charade of international control over Bashar’s chemical arsenal would be funny if it were not so blatantly perfidious. And designed not only to give Mr. Obama an opportunity to back down (from military strikes), but also to help Assad to butcher his people,’ said Prince Turki, a member of the Saudi royal family and former director of Saudi intelligence.
Now there’s respect, wouldn’t you say? You can tell that Saudi Arabia has all the respect in the world for this administration /sarc.
You know it is bad when they drop the diplo-speak and resort to “real-speak”.
No respect and certainly no fear of anything the US might do. In fact, it is because of what it hasn’t done or perhaps how badly it has done what it has done, that they are deciding to look elsewhere for an ally.
And who is waiting in the wings?
I imagine somewhere Hillary is pounding on the “reset” button.
Hey, Hill – what difference does it make now?
I think Marc Thiessen pens a fairly succinct one in today’s Washington Post:
We’re conducting foreign policy by faux pas. This entire episode has been driven not by deliberate strategy but by slips of the tongue. Obama’s declaration of a “red line” on chemical weapons was a slip of the tongue. So was Secretary of State John Kerry’s offer to have Syria give up its chemical weapons. There is no plan, no coherence to anything this administration is doing on Syria.
More embarrassing still, Obama is actually claiming that the diplomatic “breakthrough” is the result of his administration’s show of strength.
Was it a show of strength when Obama went to the world’s nations and asked them to join him in enforcing “their” red line — finding only one country (France) ready to do so? Or when the British parliament rejected military action for the first time since the 1700s? Or when a U.S. official told the Los Angeles Times that any U.S. strike would be “just muscular enough not to get mocked”? Or when Kerry declared that any strike would be “unbelievably small” and would not really constitute “war”? Or when Obama used his prime-time, nationally televised address to call on Congress to do . . . nothing?
That’s not a show of strength. That’s an embarrassment.
Foreign policy by faux pas. You have to cringe at that one. But it is certainly the truth.
The idea that this sequence of events led Syria’s Bashar al-Assad to cower and agree to hand over his chemical weapons is laughable. Russia and Syria are playing us. And the administration, which was about to lose a vote in Congress, latched on to this diplomatic “solution” to save face.
It’s supposed to be the president of the United States who gives a dictator a face-saving way out, not the other way around. The sad fact is Obama needed this way out more than Assad.
To claim otherwise is simply laughable. And, added into all of this, it gave Assad room to do whatever it is he thinks he needs to do (not to mention legitimacy as Syria’s leader) and a chance to add his own condition to the mix – that the US stop supplying the rebels with arms. Watch for that to come into play at some point in the “negotiations”.
As the Wall Street Journal says when describing the debacle:
Through mixed messages, miscalculations and an 11th-hour break, the U.S. stumbled into an international crisis and then stumbled out of it. A president who made a goal of reducing the U.S.’s role as global cop lurched from the brink of launching strikes to seeking congressional approval to embracing a deal with his biggest international adversary on Syria, Russian President Vladimir Putin.
And here we are. The clown car remains full and, unfortunately, will be leading the circus for the next 3 plus years. Hold on to your hats (and wallets).
P.S. and no we won’t be saying anything about the shootings, er “workplace violence”, at the Navy Yard in DC until a whole lot more information comes in.