There was a day when the United States and its president were a force to be reckoned with on the world stage, but it is now undeniably clear that such a time has passed.
This week, President Obama’s talks with Russian president Vladimir Putin on the Syrian conflict have shown how much of a joke our foreign policy really is these days. America’s humiliation in this respect has been a long time coming; frankly, we’ve been waiting for it ever since President Obama started harping about a “red line” that Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad has been hurdling over for years.
Now that no serious action has been taken to resolve this conflict, a power vacuum is forming. As the proverbial saying goes, nature abhors a vacuum, and we ought to be wary of who is about to fill the vacuum of a weak Syrian government.
On Monday, September 28, President Obama met President Putin at the United Nations, where he intended to “press Putin to deescalate tensions in Eastern Ukraine where pro-Russian forces continue to clash with the Ukrainian military.” With regard to Syria, President Obama appeared to be counseling President Putin against backing Assad and moving towards “deconfliction,” advice which I am sure President Putin took very seriously.
In case there was any question about Putin’s reaction to President Obama’s remarks: on Wednesday, September 30, Russia began to conduct airstrikes in Syria. According to Kevin Liptak at CNN, “Russia gave the United States just one hour heads-up that it would be launching airstrikes in the western Syrian city of Homs on Wednesday morning and told U.S. aircraft — there to battle ISIS — that they needed to leave Syrian airspace.” These airstrikes mainly took place in the west, but ISIS’s forces are primarily in the north and the east. This means that Russia’s targets turned out to be rebels backed by the US, and not ISIS.
Not more than 48 hours later, Russia seemed to be doing exactly the opposite of what President Obama advised during Monday’s talks. The Pentagon lambasted Russia’s tactics, claiming that this drew resources away from the fight against ISIS, but the White House seemed to be sweeping this under the rug and hoping it would just go away. Syria is one of the Obama Administration’s greatest failures, and where Putin is concerned, it looks like President Obama got duped yet again.
To make matters worse, Reuters is reporting that “hundreds of Iranian ground troops have reportedly arrived in Syria over the past 10 days to join an offensive supporting embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.” Reuters’ Lebanese sources also indicated that the ground troops are teaming up with Hezbollah to support Assad’s regime. Lebanese forces have been involved in the conflict from early on in the Syrian civil war.
Now that Hezbollah’s financial backers (the Iranians) are stepping in, it will be interesting to see how this Russian/Iranian/Lebanese alliance with the Syrian government pans out. One thing we can count on, however, is the continual humiliation of the “Obama Doctrine.”