The Unraveling - How Obama’s Syria policy fell apart

I just read a pretty extensive analysis here:

It really opens your eyes at the enormous incompetence of Obama administration’s foreign policy in that region. It seems like there is utter ignorance in the State Dept. of the underlying groupings and ideologies in that conflict, combined with stupid arrogance of thinking they can somehow force the situation into compliance with US demands, even though there is no US leverage in the area anymore. Not even the small one that US used to have.

But then ignorance combined with arrogance is SOP with this administration, so no surprise there.

You can hate Obama for whatever reason you’d like. But I’d be more impressed with the article if it were posted six months ago. The world is complex, and its easy to scoff that you knew the answer after the test is done.

We did know the answer months ago. You cannot first dismiss an argument as unfounded speculation and then turn around and dismiss the validation of that argument as monday night quarterbacking.

Not surprising at all. The current administration relies upon cronies who have little if any experience, to staff positions. Not only that, the whole WH staff is really dedicated to isolating the POTUS from the real world.
Now as for Syria: these are no "good guys"and “bad guys”-they are all enemies of the West. The Assad regime was a dictatorship which kept itself in power by suppressing its enemies, and keeping the various factions happy. Now that Islamic radicals have invaded the place, the future of minorities like the Alawites and Christians is in grave danger-Christian churches are being destroyed and the people displaced. The whole ME is a relic of the 1919 Versailles treaty, and its current instability is the latest in the 1300 year war between Sunni and Shia Islam.

In what way are Syrian Christians “enemies of the West”?

If the Obama administration had done nothing at all, you would be whining in equal measure about that!

I posit that it is arrogance and ignorance to assume that every complex situation has a “good” or “right” option and that there is always a winning strategy for the US in which it gets to dramatically and victoriously wave it’s flag in the face of the rest of the world.

Incompetence means that if someone competent had been at the helm, the situation would have turned out favorably. I defy you to name a single individual anywhere who ever proposed a US policy toward the Syrian civil war that had a realistic chance of things having turned out nicely by now.

Seriously, if you’re going to call Obama incompetent, who is the competent expert on Syria that he should have been listening to? Name him/her.

If you had posted this six or eight years ago I would have said you were doing a heckuva job, Ralphie!

Yes. Syria is an example of a situation with no right choices; where all courses of action will lead to bad results, including inaction. One can only try to steer for a course of least harm.

It could be much, much worse – we could be involved militarily. I’m very grateful that Obama ultimately made the right call on that, and has performed far better than his predecessor would (or did, in similar circumstances).

Obama didn’t make that call. He wanted to use military force, but nobody except the French would back him up. Not the UK, not the UN, not Congress, not two thirds of the American public.

If someone is in handcuffs, you don’t give him credit for not picking his nose.


Excellent article Terr. Its the best analysis I’ve read on the topic. It’s strength is contrasting how pathetic Obama’s approach to the war has been relative to the behavior of more effective stakeholders in the Syrian Civil War.

If the administration wanted to support Syria’s best chance for a democratic future, they would have thrown a lot of money at the FSA. The article clearly shows how the rebels align themselves with the best financed factions. The gulf states and jihadists seem to know this.

In the Syrian Civil War we seemed to have forgotten what is in our best interests in every way imaginable. I hope some day our government remembers that al-Qaeda is our enemy, Iran, Syria, Hezbollah, and Russia have typically not been on our side, and that the gulf states are our allies. The article shows how we are letting our weakness strengthen al-Qaeda, how we are trying to be bff’s with Iran, Syria, and Russia, and ignoring the gulf states.

Good show Obama, good show. I am thrilled you are limited to two terms.

Yes he did – he’s the Commander in Chief. He made the right choice.

So you believe his choice to use military action was the right one? Because that was his choice.


If that was his choice, we would have used military action. That’s how being the Commander in Chief works – if he had said “launch missiles”, we would have launched missiles. He ultimately didn’t give the order to attack, which was the right choice. I’m very thankful he made that choice.

I, too, am glad we didn’t bomb Syria, but it’s hard for me to give much credit to Obama. We wouldn’t have had to even float the idea if he hadn’t blundered with his “red line” comment. Then he spent 2 or 3 weeks trying to convince the world that we just had to bomb Syria. After being told NO by the Europeans, NO by the UNSC, NO by Congress and NO by the American people, he finally relented after Putin threw him a lifeline.

If you want to say he bungled himself into success, I’m with you. But that’s a pretty low bar to set for our President.

What I will give him credit for, and again this is a pretty low bar, is not ever contemplating “boots on the ground” in Syria. My guess is that had Bush been president, he’d probably be cautious about that, too, given the lessons learned. But thankfully, we didn’t have to find out…

Not the case. Obama thought and said that he needed permission from the UN and/or Congress. He didn’t get that permission, which is the sole and only reason military force was not used. Obama chose and was denied.


There may have been plenty of misstatements and I certainly was opposed to military action when Obama was advocating it, but ultimately he made the right call. Maybe it is a low bar, but considering the alternatives and his predecessor, not risking thousands of American lives and hundreds of billions of dollars in a pointless war seems like a wise and bold decision.

You’re just hilariously wrong here – he chose to “ask for permission”, with the full knowledge that he could have ordered strikes without such permission (and even said so at the time). He may well have even “asked for permission” knowing he wouldn’t get it, though there’s no way to know. The process of decision-making is far less important to me than the fact that he decided not to attack, because (as previous Presidents, as well as our involvement in Libya showed) he certainly had the power. I’m very grateful, and your contortions in trying to claim the Commander in Chief made the wrong decision when he made the decision to not attack only serve to make me laugh.