Obama, Putin, and the Syrian Situation: Another Fine Mess

Movin-In-600-LI

This is another fine mess you’ve gotten us into. – Oliver Hardy to Stan Laurel

To quote the late, great Strother Martin, in “Cool Hand Luke”,

What we have heah is a failure to communicate.

According to mcclatchydc.com

While they confer about “de-conflicting” their bombing raids in Syria, U.S. and Russian military officials also might want to discuss what the word “terrorist” means.That would be an easier discussion for the Russians, who began conducting airstrikes Wednesday, than the Americans, who’ve been bombing Syria for more than a year.

For Russian President Vladimir Putin and his generals, the definition of “terrorist,” when it comes to the increasingly turbulent Syrian civil war, is simple: anyone who uses violence to try to topple President Bashar Assad.

Assad is a dictator, but he’s Moscow’s dictator. Just as the late Iraqi strongman Saddam Hussein was Washington’s dictator, for decades, before President George W. Bush turned against him and launched an ill-fated March 2003 invasion whose consequences are still playing out more than a dozen years later across the Middle East, from Syria and Iraq to Libya and Iran.

For President Barack Obama and his top military aides, it’s becoming more complicated by the day to say just who is a terrorist in Syria.

Like Moscow, Washington views some of the anti-Assad forces as terrorists, starting with the Islamic State militants.

But the United States’ uneasy alliances with Turkey and the elusive “moderate opposition groups” in Syria, along with the reluctance of Obama and Congress to get drawn further into that nation’s bloody disaster, require American leaders to engage in verbal jujitsu when asked if the U.S.-led air campaign is also targeting the Nusra Front, Ahrar al Shram and other al Qaida-linked groups.

“The fundamental problem is that the United States is trying to divorce its international anti-terrorism campaign from the rest of the Syrian civil war,” Christopher Kozak, an analyst with the Institute for the Study of War in Washington, told McClatchy. “That’s very difficult as we saw when the (U.S.-trained) New Syrian Force went in and just got obliterated by Nusra. The rebels want to fight the regime, not ISIS.

“The Russians have some leverage because they’re coming in with a position that’s more coherent,” he added. “Their anti-terrorism strategy is part of an endgame for ending the civil war, which is to protect the Assad regime.” ISIS is one of several acronyms for the Islamic State; ISIL is another.

Beneath their diverging views of who is a terrorist lies a more fundamental difference between Moscow and Washington: Russia traces the rise of the Islamic State to the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq; the United States blames it on the brutal Assad rule that it blames for the deaths of more than 200,000 Syrians.

Despite Assad’s record, Russia is now backing his regime with air strikes. It bombed other forces Wednesday and Thursday before striking Islamic State targets Friday.

Russia fought Islamic extremists in the Chechnya region within its own borders in two wars covering more than a decade and ending in 2009.
A U.S. official, who requested anonymity in order to discuss intelligence matters, confirmed the most recent Russian raids.

“We believe that they’ve struck a couple of different places where ISIL is present today, both near (Islamic State headquarters in) Raqqa and Deir el Zour” in eastern Syria, the official told McClatchy.

After Russian warplanes began bombing Syria this week, reporters repeatedly asked Pentagon officials how they felt about the Kremlin targeting Assad foes other than the Islamic State. Just as repeatedly, the U.S. military spokesmen declined to answer the questions directly.

Army Col. Steve Warren, spokesman for Operation Inherent Resolve in Baghdad, was asked via video conference about reports that Kurdish fighters in Syria, who have been the United States’ most effective ground force there against the Islamic State, welcomed Russia’s entry into the air wars.

“Our focus and our determination is to defeat ISIL,” Warren said. “If others are willing to work with us to defeat ISIL, then that is something that we are willing to welcome.”

Warren was asked to respond to Russian airstrikes against CIA-backed Syrians fighting to overthrow Assad.

“It’s an extraordinarily complex battlefield,” he said. “Now, what I’ll say is our focus is ISIL, and I’ll leave it there.”

At a separate briefing, Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook deflected similar questions.

“The sooner the Russians can be focused on those efforts to try and go after ISIL, the better, and that’s the message we’re going to continue to deliver,” Cook said.

Here’s the problem with that:

For Putin, this military action services two distinct purposes. As was just reported, Putin is protecting his “buddy”, Assad.

At the same time, Putin is enjoying making Obama look weak to the rest of the world.

And, that’s not just my opinion.

Per the London Telegraph,

This past week, White House press secretary Josh Earnest strained credulity when he said Mr Obama doesn’t regret drawing that red line.Weakness invites provocation, and – never one to miss an opportunity to outmanoeuvre Mr Obama – Mr Putin provided a self-serving opportunity that would also allow the president to save face: Moscow would push Syria to put their chemical weapons under international control. 

It’s also important to note that in the wake of the red line being trampled, Russia invaded Crimea. President Obama’s legacy may be mixed, but one thing is for sure: Vladimir Putin is much more powerful and provocative than he was before Mr Obama took office, and Russia has only expanded its sphere of influence.

The Syria bombings also come almost immediately after Mr Putin met with Mr Obama at the UN where they agreed to “deconflict” military operations – a very Obama-esque line that Mr Putin immediately crossed.

And prior to bombing our friends in Syria, the Russians also had the audacity to issue a “démarche” for the US to clear air space over northern Syria. As if that weren’t enough, this came just as reports that the Russians attempted to hack Hillary Clinton’s email server.

For those paying attention, Mr Obama’s foreign policy world-view has failed.

The suggestion that America could leave a vacuum that wouldn’t be filled by our adversaries – the idea that the “international community” (whatever that means) would respect us more if we were to retreat from the world – was always a farce.

At some level, high-stakes diplomacy is still a game of chicken – where machismo matters.

Even domestically, there are still traces of this left in our more civilised politics. 

We recently witnessed an example of Jeb Bush standing on his toes during a photo-op, attempting to appear taller than Donald Trump. This is childish and petty, and yet serious people play these power games.

But nobody plays them better than Mr Putin, the former KGB officer who likes to ride horses while shirtless.

It’s nice to live in a postmodern country, but we shouldn’t delude ourselves into believing the rest of the world is impressed by our sophistication.

In the vast majority of the world, power (or the perception of power) is what matters. In America, President Obama’s brand of metrosexual coolness works well.

He mocked Mitt Romney, for example, as a Neanderthal stuck in the 1980s for suggesting in 2012 that Russia was still our main geopolitical foe.

Mr Obama’s mix of cool insouciance and biting sarcasm plays much better with the latte-sipping crowd than it does with former KGB operatives, where his style and rhetoric suggests weakness, softness, and a lack of commitment and moral clarity.

This disdain that those in Europe hold for Obama is nothing new.

In an article posted on April 10, 2009, columnist Gerald Warner of this same London Telegraph, coined the title President Pantywaist for Barack Hussein Obama (mm mmm mmmm).  He gave him this nickname after Obama:

…recently completed the most successful foreign policy tour since Napoleon’s retreat from Moscow. You name it, he blew it. What was his big deal economic programme that he was determined to drive through the G20 summit? Another massive stimulus package, globally funded and co-ordinated. Did he achieve it? Not so as you’d notice. 

Given the way America’s enemies are laughing at America and spitting in our face, the way that Obama has arrogantly alienated our foreign allies, and the President’s Steve Urkel-esque naiveté as exhibited by his Smart Power Foreign Policy, I would say Mr. Warner hit the nail on the head.

In December of 1985, five U.S. citizens were murdered in simultaneous Islamic terrorist attacks at the Rome and Vienna airports. Upon finding out that Libyan Despot Muammar al-Qaddafi was behind the attacks, U.S. President Ronald Reagan ordered expanded sanctions against Libya and froze Libyan assets in the United States. On March 24, 1986, U.S. and Libyan forces clashed in the Gulf of Sidra, and four Libyan attack boats were sunk. Then, on April 5, terrorists bombed a West Berlin dance hall known to be frequented by U.S. servicemen. One U.S. serviceman and a Turkish woman were killed, and more than 200 people were wounded, including 50 other U.S. servicemen. U.S. intelligence actually intercepted radio messages sent from Libya to its diplomats in East Berlin ordering the April 5 attack on the LaBelle discotheque.

On April 14, 1986, President Reagan ordered air strikes against Libya in retaliation for their sponsorship of terrorism against American troops and citizens. The raid, which began shortly before 7 p.m. EST (2 a.m., April 15 in Libya), involved more than 100 U.S. Air Force and Navy aircraft, and was over within an hour. Five military targets and “terrorism centers” were hit, including the headquarters of Libyan leader Muammar al-Qaddafi.

In fact, the rumor was, we fired a Stinger Missile right into Qaddafi’s bedroom.

After this, Qaddafi left us alone and kept his mouth shut for 25 years. All it took to make the sponsor of Muslim Terrorism back down was a show of strength and a United States President who was not afraid to use our military might in defense of our country.

Fast forward to today…

Obama and his Secretary of State, John (I served in Vietnam) Kerry has agreed to a deal with Kerry’s son-in-law’s father, his counterpart in Iran, which will give them nuclear capability, while leaving four Americans, including a Christian Preacher, imprisoned in that barbaric country.

Now, Obama has Kerry trying to negotiate with Putin and the Russians after they have made the President of the United States of America look like a wuss to the rest of the world..

Meanwhile, last Friday, Obama gave a Press Conference, insisting that it is Putin who is looking weak.

Way to go, President Pantywaist. That showed ’em.

God protect us.

Until He Comes,

KJ

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One Response to “Obama, Putin, and the Syrian Situation: Another Fine Mess”

  1. Brittius Says:

    Reblogged this on Brittius.

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