How many times have we heard President Obama and his secretary of state (both Hillary Clinton and John Kerry) express optimism about the prospects of working with Russia to find a “diplomatic” solution to Syria. Those conservatives watching Vladimir Putin’s domestic repression and international behavior have denounced this idea as entirely unrealistic.
Once again the conservative critics have it right. The Hill reports:
A top lawmaker in Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party on Friday accused the Obama administration of fabricating evidence that the forces of Syrian President Bashar Assad have used chemical weapons in Syria. . . . The comments suggest Russia won’t be persuaded by the Obama administration’s evidence, potentially endangering a U.S.-Russian last-ditch peace conference scheduled for next month.
Ya think? It is remarkable that, after multiple vetoes at the U.N. Security Council, evidence of Russian military support for Bashar al-Assad and Russia’s public statements, the Obama administration could still harbor the fantasy that Russia could help us out. Their interests are the exact opposite of ours. I’d like to think the administration is not so easily fooled, but waiting for Russia (or using Russia as an excuse for not acting) has cost the U.S. dearly.
On CNN yesterday, Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) remarked:
Senator McCain has been advocating a no-fly zone for months. I’ve been very skeptical of that up until the last several weeks. But it’s pretty obvious that if strong action is not taken, then Bashar Assad is going to remain in power for months, maybe even years. The Iranians are arming him. The Russians are arming him. Hezbollah has complete run of the country of Syria now.
So, we’ve got terrorists who are fighting with the Assad regime. The United States has never stood by and seen innocent people slaughtered to the extent that’s happening in Syria. The United States does not need to be the world’s policemen, but the United States does need to step in when tyrants like this, really, in a very militant way, kill innocent people on a regular basis. Maybe a no-fly zone is the appropriate way to go.
In a written statement, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) echoed the sentiment about delay and pointed out that we still have not heard the administration articulate any specific policy:
In April, after the Obama administration admitted that the regime of Bashar al-Assad had likely used chemical weapons, I called upon the President to clearly state how he intended to respond to this violation of his own stated red line. Months later, the administration’s Syria policy is no clearer than it was then. Instead, we’ve wasted more time chasing the fantasy of a negotiated settlement involving Russia. This has only given the Assad regime more time to make military gains and resulted in the deaths of more innocent civilians.
It is in America’s interest for Assad to be removed from power and for Syria to be put on a path toward stability. The longer we continue to outsource this problem to other actors, the more the country will fragment, spreading instability, violence, and chaos to its neighbors, with implications for U.S. national security for decades to come. . . . We are now witnessing in Syria what a world without decisive American leadership looks like. There is no more time for half measures. I again call on the President to explain what he will do to respond to this humanitarian and national security nightmare.
In sum, Obama apparently convinced himself, or was willing to argue publicly, that Putin could bail us out. That ludicrous delusion has now come crashing down. And one can now expect some half-baked, minimal support for the rebels. Decisive and effective are not part of the president’s foreign policy repertoire.