Two men who served as top foreign policy advisers to former President Barack Obama are speaking out against their former boss, who they say made the world a “more dangerous” place.
Barry Pavel, who sat on Obama’s national security council from 2008 to 2010 as senior director for defense policy and strategy, told Fox News recently that Obama’s inaction in Syria was a "major mistake."
"In Syria, a major mistake was treating it like a humanitarian crisis, when it was a major national security crisis that has caused destabilization of our closest allies in Europe," Pavel said. "Syria has been a source of terrorist attacks in Europe and the United States, and future attacks. I worry about that very much."
Pavel was referring to Obama’s decision to not enforce his “red line” policy after Syrian President Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons against his own people in 2013.
Obama promised military action, but instead brokered a deal that allegedly got Assad to agree to turn over his chemical weapons stockpile, which turned out to be false.
That inaction, Pavel said, taught the world Obama was big on talk, but didn’t follow through with promises. In fact, Pavel said Obama taught American adversaries that the U.S. under his leadership "would never use military force for any purpose."
"Potential adversaries know we had the capability, but not the will,” Pavel said, citing Russia’s actions in Ukraine and Crimea.
"Because they knew that the Obama administration would never use military force for any purpose, they felt free to conduct their coercive actions in the South China Seas, the Russians went into Iran and Syria and North Korea accelerated their nuclear arms program,” he explained.
President Donald Trump, however, chose to take a drastically different approach to Syria than his predecessor. After Assad again used chemical weapons on his own people earlier this month, Trump ordered an airstrike on a Syrian airbase to send Assad a message that the U.S. will no longer tolerate his human rights violations.
"I think the Trump administration is putting the world on notice,” Pavel said. “The U.S. can use military force to achieve particular goals without getting mired in a protracted conflict."
Gary Samore, Obama’s arms and weapons of mass destruction coordinator for four years, agrees that his former boss made the U.S. weaker and the world a more dangerous place.
He said Obama "was too hesitant and too guided by a belief that dialogue was the way to deal with rogue leaders," according to Fox News.
"I applaud Trump,” Samore said of the decision to strike Syria.
“It was the kind of strike that Obama was planning — a limited military attack against the airfields in order to deter Assad from carrying out additional chemical weapons attacks, but he decided not to use it. Obama made a huge mistake by saying he was going to go to Congress for authorization, it turned out he did not have the votes,” Samore explained.
"Trump was very smart to do it without congressional support,” he said.