Syria: Putin succeeds where Obama failed

Would’ve been interesting to see the results if America really did take a hands off approach in Syria and elsewhere, instead of engaging in a proxy war against Iran. They can’t quit cold turkey, though.

OP, what do you think America should have done?

Only in a backhanded way. I agree Obama failed. I also believe the structural nature of this particular problem doomed any administration to fail. Ronald Reagan would have failed. John F. Kennedy would have failed. Dwight Eisenhower would have failed. Bill Clinton would have failed. George Washington would have failed.

There were zero good options. Obama picked those he thought least repugnant and…failed. If his choices were bad ones it is only because all his choices were. By the way…

Putin succeeding in a foreign policy venture = fail
Assad winning = fail

What is a success you ask? A stable, democratic, peaceful, multi-confessional society. Chance of that outcome in the short run? IMHO essentially zero. Chance that an outside power can help influence that outcome in a positive way? IMHO essentially zero.

Syria, like Iraq ( which I still consider a failed state as it sits now ) might have a shot in the long run. But in the short run I’m afraid it will just be more misery and tragedy.

No I’m a realist/pragmatist/cynic ( pick whichever you prefer ) and think it will probably be short-lived and irrelevant.

Its really sad and disappointing to see how far some people will go with this “The enemy of my enemy is my friend” crap.

I’m pretty sure Obama wasn’t trying to build up the Assad regime, which is what Putin has succeeded in doing.

That said, the realistic choices in Syria were either Assad or ISIS. Obama’s attempt to develop a viable third alternative was never very likely to work.

Assad’s probably the lesser evil. So I guess Russia putting its puppet back in power counts as a victory of sorts.

As for peace, the ceasefire doesn’t include ISIS, which effectively means there is no ceasefire.

Either one thing or the other. Support the rebels with air power to quickly topple Assad before Russia got involved or step away completely and tell the rebels they’re on their own. If either step had been taken decisively and firmly it would have had a significant impact. The very worse thing the US could do was offer half-hearted support while at the same time holding out hope that firmer action could be coming. The result was a prolonging of the war and a lesson for the Arabs that if you need a reliable ally then you look towards Russia.

Weren’t you same person who also said:


So, the West did their utmost in Syria but it was half-hearted? The U.S. should have tried to quickly topple Assad, but it would have been short-sighted to do so because we would have already forgotten about Libya?

Air power alone was not going to topple Assad in the early days (with ground forces still coalescing and no real organization) and is not capable of toppling Assad now (even if the Russians were removed). Air power did not remove Saddam and air power was only effective in Libya because there were significant ground forces ready and able to take advantage of strikes on Qaddafi’s forces to regain the momentum and attack.

Those statements aren’t contradictory. I said the US was about to turn Syria into another Libya exactly because of the half-assed neither here nor there policy they were following. For the record I have never been a fan of Putin nor have I of Assad. What I am a fan of is ending the bloody civil war in Syria. That is most effectively being done by Putin. Do you really believe that Obama acted for the best in Syria? If you do I can only believe that all indeed does look yellow to your jaundiced eye when you cast it on the Middle East.

He should have realised that the use of chemical weapons was the only thing that gave American interference in Syria any legitimacy. If he wasn’t going to act when the “red line” was crossed, the administration should have abandoned all their dreams of regime change there and then. Nothing good was accomplished by arming the “moderate” rebels, and far worse would have happened if they got to implement Clinton’s plan to cripple the Syrian government’s technological superiority with air superiority missions.

Libya wouldn’t be a tranquil, peaceful paradise if the West had looked the other way as the civil war there raged on. It would likely look a lot like it does today, but perhaps bloodier with someone as truly deranged as Qaddafi still in the mix. The only way for the West to have gotten involved and prevented any of the bloodshed following Qaddafi’s death (and pocket of Da’esh involvement) would have been an occupation. No one was suggesting that at the time and there were certainly no indications then, and none now, that Libyans wanted that. And that wouldn’t have ended the bloodshed, since U.S. and NATO forces would also be the ones dying and potentially facing yet another insurgency.

Civil wars are inevitable when a dictator dies, having ruled by divide and conquer methods using religion or ethnicity as the basis. That’s why blaming Obama for Syria’s civil war is ridiculous. Dubya’s invasion of Iraq and removal of Saddam directly led to the sectarian bloodshed there, Al Qaeda in Iraq, and its later incarnation of Da’esh, but civil war was inevitable in Iraq after Saddam whether the 2003 invasion happened or not.

Obama acted in the best interests of the U.S. Since air power alone was never a very likely method of removing Assad, the only way to ensure his regime was toppled was either to work in conjunction with significant, organized, and well equipped local forces or to have U.S. and any other Coalition ground troops take and occupy Damascus and Latakia. Since there weren’t (and still largely aren’t outside of the YPG) organized and well equipped ground forces among the rebels, that leaves U.S. and any other NATO allies stupid enough to engage in another Middle Eastern ground war holding the bag. Obama let Assad (and later Putin) continue to massacre civilians along with rebels because doing more would result in Americans coming home in bodybags by the hundreds if not thousands. Again. For years on end too, since some kind of multi-year occupation would be necessary to ensure that any provisional government left behind wouldn’t fall to Al Qaeda or fall back into civil war.

But I didn’t blame Obama for Syria’s civil war. I blamed him for continuing it by hollow promises and inaction. As for air power being ineffectual it did a pretty good job for the Russians. No ground troops, no bodybags heading for Moscow, Aleppo secured.

The truth is that Obama did not act in America’s interest. He had several effective options other than boots on the ground. When he failed to enforce his so-called red line he became a busted flush and the US now has little or no influence in Syria.

You’re right, that’s the least.

Aleppo was secured by ground fighting. By and large, the Russians are using dummy, not guided, munitions. They aren’t that effective, especially in an urban area. They’re great for causing unintended civilian casualties though. Even with guided munitions, the U.S. and its Coalition partners have only been able to degrade Da’esh over a long period of time. It took Iraqi ground forces equipped and supplied by the U.S. to actually drive Da’esh out of Ramadi, Falluja, etc.

And we have no idea what Russian casualty numbers are. Their air force casualties are mostly apparent due to high profile shoot-downs and accidents, but since we don’t even know how many Russian soldiers are on the ground engaged in advising and fighting with Assad’s forces, we certainly don’t know their casualty numbers.

What effective options were there that Obama so foolishly tossed away? He certainly was foolish in making his red line declaration from the start, but following Assad’s use of chemical weapons, the only way to enforce the red line was either air strikes (which, again, would not have been sufficient to topple Assad alone) or a full-on air campaign followed by a ground invasion.

Even before the civil war, the U.S. didn’t have any real influence in Syria. Assad was already aligned with Russia and Iran. Assad winning the civil war will just be a return to the previous status quo. But, despite all of the mass killing that Assad has unleashed, the one silver lining is that his regime has been completely weakened and it has also resulted in a financial and military drain on both Russia and Iran as well. Republicans were so concerned that the Iranian money Obama returned to Iran would be used to support terror and harm Israel. Instead, it got sucked up by Iran’s own weakened economy and their having to bail out Assad.

And it’s been a win-win for Israel. Not only has Assad been mortally weakened, but his regime doesn’t appear likely to be able to militarily reconquer the rest of Syria in the immediate future. Hizbollah has been weakened as many of their best fighters have been killed or wounded fighting for Assad. The civil war has enabled them to strike openly at Assad during his occasional attempted transfer of weapons to Hizbollah without having to worry about the depleted Syrian air force. All of the financial and military support Iran might have given to Hizbollah and Hamas has at least partially, if not largely, been reduced and re-prioritized to Assad. And the Arab world is mostly split and more concerned with Syria and Iran than Israel.

Of course, why let that new 12.5 billion dollar aircraft carrier just float aimlessly around out there without actually launching jets and bombing something. We want our monies worth ya know.

You’re making my point for me. Aleppo was indeed secured by ground fighting but not by Russian soldiers: the troops were Arab or Iranian, with perhaps a smattering of Russian advisors. As for air power are you seriously suggesting that Russian air power was ineffective in Syria? And if Iraqi ground forces supplied by the US could drive Da’esh from Ramadi, etc then why could not Syrian rebels supplied by the US (before Russian intervention) have taken Aleppo and Damascus?

As for Obama’s options, I repeat: he could have supplied the rebels with some decent arms and backed them up with air power. There would be no need for American troops. Instead he chose to make one of the most humiliating climb-downs an American President has ever made, embarrassing both himself and his country.

Putin succeeded in removing the Assad regime?

Huh. Who’da thunk?

It was very expected you would jump on repeating the Putin dezinformatsia…

It is almost amusing.

So it is a positive in your way of viewing things to have a President of your country who commits the huge, enormous blunder costing you the lives of soldiers wasted and billions wasted - just so long as he looks strong doing it to you.

There is a word for this, perhaps we can say it is Mussolinism since the proper name carries to many other baggages.

The wide agreement among the professionals is you Americans committed one of the greatest errors of your foreign policy history in the invasion of the Iraq, and have since because of this wasted the 100 of billions and of course not to mention lost the huge amount of respect around the world across both the European countries and across the developed countries…

but you consider your regain under the Obama administration a failure, becuase he has not appealled to the Cowboy white hat black hat Action movies thinking interior to a certain American political tendency.

Why would they celebrate the Russian and the Assad propaganda that does not even actually clearly identify any of the supposed rebel counter signatories and only has the weak and never credible Free Syrian Army of the CIA as saying in public it is part of this, that excludes without identification certain parties and does not in fact include any of the larger fighting groups, not the DAECH not the Nusra, and not the others associated with the Nusra - and these are the majority. And even the stronget of the Kurdish forces,the YPG, is not even included in the talks or the deal although they are not yet fighting the Assad regime (but this is not by any alignment with the Assad regime)…

The idea that some how the non-existent support of the West except for the Kurdish segment is some changer of the situation is quite incredible set of imagination - as the DAECH and the Nusra have never depended on any of the Western support.

I can imagine that if this was the early 1980s you would be celebrating every little announcement of your Mr Habib with a similar severe naïveté driven by the domestic political thinking.

This will not be different from the earlier cease fires, and not different than the history of the civil war in Lebanon. We will have the same pattern.

And for the next several years we can expect you to rush in to celebrate the latest Putin success on the latest cease fire…

Indeed it is strange to see how a certain American political tendency has now flipped around from being the reflexive skeptics of the Russians to believing anything.

Not even that, it is a political posturing, and using the kind of Russian playbook that the Russians used in the Caucasuses in their war of reconquest there including of course the indiscriminate use of the heavy munitions against the civilians and the use of the dezinformatsia.

The troops were Hezbullah and Iranian. Not “Arab”, the specific Hezbullah militia.


Besides the American right, the world has given not one fuck about the red line comment in the Syria.

Most humiliatiing for an American president ever?

It is extremely strange to read this, and to undertand what a strange internal world view the Americans have, or those of a certain political tendency…

The South Vietnam accords?
The Iraq and Mission Accomplished?
The 1980s Lebanon civil war intervention and the American declarations around their “peace initiatives” at that time?

Ah but of course for the Americans, history is the past several year, all other things are the “ancient history” and so I must understand I guess that “ever” means the past several years.

Of course for the parts of the world with some sense of the idea of history, it is a surreal view.

Aren’t the Republicans against the Iran nuclear deal? Because Iran is* evil*! Why is the OP celebrating the great Putin & his great Iranian allies now?

I think the OP is unclear on several points.

So you approve the Russian “success” in obtaining a cease-fire, because you think stopping the violence is the most important thing, but are complaining that Obama didn’t do enough to obstruct the Russians from getting to that point. Uh-huh.

Obama failed in supporting a dictator? And that’s a bad thing?

Huh. I don’t understand your mentality. It’s like you are from another species.

Maybe. But he’s very clear on his central theme that it’s all Obama’s fault.