Foreign and Defense Policy, Middle East and North Africa

Obama on Syria: Something, something, chain of custody, nothing

Image Credit: REUTERS

Image Credit: REUTERS

Barack Obama gave a quickie presser this morning that covered a wide range of issues including Syria, GTMO, Benghazi, and gun control. But the Syria story led the questioning, and the president did little to erase perceptions that he has little intention of escalating US involvement in the ongoing war. Hiding behind a firm use of adjectives and a determinedly technocratic approach to Assad and co’s possible use of chemical weapons, he allowed he was troubled by questions relating to “chain of custody” in the use of weapons, agreed that, following a determination that someone related to Assad had indeed used chemical weapons, he would “rethink the range of options,” bemoaned the death of tens of thousands of Syrians, and moved on. Twitterati from the region read the president as confirming he didn’t care to involve the US.

Who in the region, other than the beleaguered Syrian people, cares? The Jordanians, with about 400,000 refugees? The Iraqis, with al Qaeda back on the rise, inspired by their buds in Syria? Turkey, with its own massive refugee load? Lebanon, with its own Hezbollah fighting for Assad? Israel? But most of all, Iran. What have they seen? A red line that isn’t a red line. A president that will avoid action even if it makes him look the fool. A world indifferent to the plight of the Syrian people. Who are the decisive powers in the Middle East now? Qatar, of all places, which supports the Salafis wherever found; and Iran, which is stoking sectarian violence wherever possible.

Short answer to the question of what will follow Obama’s CSI-like examination of the forensics? Nothing. We’re going to have to wait for the EU arms embargo on Syria to end this summer, when France and the UK will step in and do their best to help the better guys beat both Assad and al Qaeda in Syria. It will be too little, very late.

5 thoughts on “Obama on Syria: Something, something, chain of custody, nothing

  1. First paragraph…you put in too many words, i.e.: …read the president as confirming he didn’t care to involve the US.
    Should read…as confirming he didn’t care. (period)

  2. “France and the UK will step in and do their best to help the better guys beat both Assad and al Qaeda in Syria.”

    If somebody else wants to step in and “help”, they can have at it. However, I sincerely doubt there is anyone out there in a position to lead the charge that isn’t aware of the miserable failures wrought by US interventionism. I suppose there is a chance those failures might be overlooked, but I doubt it… who would be foolish enough to make the required investments for zero expected return?

    I’m not a big fan of Obama, but he was right on Iraq, and he’s right on Syria… they need to sort this out on their own.

    • ??How was he right on Iraq? By following the timetable Bush had put in place before Obama became Pres? But Obama also angered Iraq, so we had no remaining presence.

      • I’m talking about Obama’s widely-publicized opposition to the war in Iraq, which extended back to 2002, prior to the war’s inception in March, 2003. We now have Obama opposing war in Syria, prior to its would-be inception. See the parallel?

        As for his handling of the war after he got stuck with it, I really have no opinion except to say that no human being could ever devise the perfect strategy to extract the US once the fatal decision to start the war was made.

  3. And who exactly is it we want to help in Syria? There used to be a small but active Christian community in Iraq. I believe it all but disappeared after the US destroyed the Iraqi government. There is a small but active, and VERY ancient, Christian community in Egypt. It is likely to disappear within our lifetimes. Now some idiots want us to support yet another gang of radical Moslems this time in Syria, which also has a small but ancient Christian community.

    The Syrians are engaged in a civil war. How many of the “civilian” deaths are actually deaths of armed rebels? And how many unarmed Syrians have been killed by the rebels, not the government? Does anyone seriously believe that the killing will stop if the rebels win? It didn’t stop in Libya, and it sure hasn’t stopped in Egypt.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>