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One Word Best Describes Obama's Foreign Policy - Syria

World

Our new role is observer and we are adrift upon a raft in the Sea of Chaos in the most dangerous geography in the world.

WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 12: U.S. President Barack Obama (L) makes briefs remarks to the news media at the beginning of a cabinet meeting with Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel in the Cabinet Room of the White House September 12, 2013 in Washington, DC. Obama noted the absence of Secretary of State John Kerry who is in Geneva meeting with his Russian counterpart about Syria. Obama said he hopes that the meeting would yield concrete results. Credit: Getty Images

Syria is a synecdoche for an erratic President Barack Obama foreign policy that has flitted from one position to another, joining a cause here and dumping a commitment there, unburdened by a coherent global view. Absent a coherent global view, national security interests cannot be defined.

In 2011, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was a “reformer.” He was our friend. Indeed, he had ruled relatively benignly as Israel’s neighbor for 13 years and a large Christian population lived peaceably in his country. So we joined his opposition and provided military aid to the rebels creating chaos.

In August of 2012, President Obama made an impromptu visit to the White House briefing room. He expressed his continuing insistence that Assad step down. He then addressed the use of chemical weapons: “A red line for us is, we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized.”

One year later it became crystal clear to the international community that chemical weapons were used on the Syrian people and the red line was crossed.

WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 12:  U.S. President Barack Obama (L) makes briefs remarks to the news media at the beginning of a cabinet meeting with Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel in the Cabinet Room of the White House September 12, 2013 in Washington, DC. Obama noted the absence of Secretary of State John Kerry who is in Geneva meeting with his Russian counterpart about Syria. Obama said he hopes that the meeting would yield concrete results. Credit: Getty Images U.S. President Barack Obama (L) makes briefs remarks to the news media at the beginning of a cabinet meeting with Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel in the Cabinet Room of the White House September 12, 2013 in Washington, DC. Obama noted the absence of Secretary of State John Kerry who is in Geneva meeting with his Russian counterpart about Syria. Obama said he hopes that the meeting would yield concrete results. Credit: Getty Images

What was not crystal clear was who used the chemical weapons. How did we determine that the guilty party was Assad? It is difficult to find a benefit accruing to Assad by gassing his own people and increasing the likelihood that the United States might enter the conflict. The benefit to the rebels, though, was strikingly clear. Is it just possible that we were being sucked into a mess best left alone?

The president, though, decided that we must act. To bomb or not to bomb was the question that consumed Washington, D.C. He would take the issue to Congress for a vote.

Watching this play out from a distance, the urgency was not so clear. If three or four groups that hate us are fighting each other, perhaps we should sit back for a while and see what comes of this. While they are fighting each other they will be too occupied to attack us or their Christian neighbors. Or Israel. We might even hope that they will remain occupied for a very long time.

However, those in the Washington bubble knew that they must do something. And they knew just what to do. They identified the loser and it was time for him to go away.

We were told exactly what to expect: How many missiles would be sent, what targets would be hit and when the attack might begin. We were told that it must be “muscular enough not to get mocked.” Secretary of State John Kerry assured the world that our effort to cure this affront to the sensibilities of the international community would be “unbelievably small.” It would, of course, be very precise. We know exactly how to do that.

WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 09: Syrian American protesters gather outside the U.S Capitol urging Congress to support U.S. President Barack Obama in striking Syria for using chemical weapons against its own people September 9, 2013 in Washington, DC. Obama is scheduled to address the nation on the issue tomorrow night, with votes in the Senate and House likely to take place later this week. Credit Win McNamee/Getty Images  Syrian American protesters gather outside the U.S Capitol urging Congress to support U.S. President Barack Obama in striking Syria for using chemical weapons against its own people September 9, 2013 in Washington, DC. Obama is scheduled to address the nation on the issue tomorrow night, with votes in the Senate and House likely to take place later this week. Credit: Win McNamee/Getty Images

As we were about to commit air power to an additional regional war without a defined national security interest, Russian President Vladimir Putin rode in on a white horse and Obama rode off on his bicycle, riding helmet securely fastened, leaving Syria, and its civil war, to others.

During the Arab Spring we moved aggressively to the side of those seeking to overthrow the established order. Those who were creating chaos could depend on America for a friend. This was Richard Cloward and Frances Fox Piven writ large.

We aided the undoing of Hosni Mubarek in Egypt and Muammar Gaddafi in Libya. “Our side” won. The Muslim Brotherhood took our money and our munitions and delivered a formerly reliable ally, Egypt, to radical Islam. That government has already been replaced and is looking to Russia for a dependable ally. Libya became a breeding ground for radical Islamist groups that ultimately ended the lives of our ambassador and three other Americans.

Ten months have passed since we ceded Russian hegemony over Syria. Those whom we supported have formed the nucleus of an Islamic army marching through Iraq and Syria. American arms have aided in establishing the long-sought caliphate. They have territory and money with armies and arms.

As the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria gains control of Syria’s machinery of State we will pray for the fate of the Syrian Christians and Israel. ISIS will be in control of more weapons and assets with which to defend the caliphate. Assad will flee to Europe to be re-united with this family and his money.

Our new role is observer and we are adrift upon a raft in the Sea of Chaos in the most dangerous geography in the world.

John Linder served in Congress for 18 years from Georgia. He and his wife, Lynne, have retired to a farm in Northeast Mississippi. He can be contacted at: linderje@yahoo.com

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