Syria and Obama’s Failing Foreign Policy

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posted on May, 11 2013 @ 01:22 PM
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Syria and Obama’s Failing Foreign Policy


This is a thread I have been meaning to get round to writing for quite some time, with the news that Israel has been bombing Syria and mounting evidence of chemical weapons being used by both sides now seems like a good time. It seems to me that American support of Syria is a topic of hot discussion yet I don’t think that the motivation behind this support has been given enough attention. The aim of this thread is therefore explore America’s foreign policy regarding Syria and highlight the blunders of this policy, to be clear this whole thing is very complex so this is not a intended as a in depth look at American foreign policy but rather a overview.

Early Days.

The best place to start with a thread like this is at the start when this civil war started and the American reaction which was sluggish to say the least. Initially America was to slow to react to events, they appeared to believe that Assad would do the “right thing” and stand aside or at the very least the Syrian uprising would be like the uprising in Egypt. Sectary of State Hillary Clinton is on record as of March 2011 describing Assad saying that:


“There’s a different leader in Syria now,” Clinton said. “Many of the members of Congress of both parties who have gone to Syria in recent months have said they believe he’s a reformer.”

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This may have been due to a view that the Americans had of Assad that he was different kind of leader to his predecessor. Before the uprising the Americans had starting improving relations with the Syrian government, there were high level talks aimed at improving relations between the two states and Obama reinstalled a new American ambassador to Syria in 2010 the first since 2005. Regardless as things developed and it became clear that Assad was not going to do the “right thing” as Syrians stated being shot by security forces on the streets and tortured in the prisons. America reacted to these events by imposing a sanction hear and Obama spouting of a few harsh words there. But fundamentally they were slow to make any real serious action against Syria believing that eventually Syria would play out like Egypt had. Even in May when Syrian tanks laid the city of Homs under Siege Obama did not explicitly call for Assad to resign, it was not until August of 2011 that Obama finally made this announcement


We have consistently said that President Assad must lead a democratic transition or get out of the way. He has not led. For the sake of the Syrian people, the time has come for President Assad to step aside

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The question then at the heart of this thread is why has America adopted a foreign policy that demands Assad stand aside?

The big picture.

America let’s face it only adopts a foreign policy that is in its own interests, they bring about the fall of Gaddafi and try to topple Assad yet they keep quiet about Bahrain, why because it is in their interest. When all is said and done this all comes down to America’s primary concern which is the stabilisation of the region, if the Middle East explodes then so does the price of oil the life blood of the American economy. So for America the best solution to this civil war is that Assad stands down and nice friendly secular government that will leave Israel alone and deal with American firms is the best outcome. As CNN summed up the situation


Think of Syria as the Middle East's core. When it's weak and destabilized, the body is susceptible to serious injury. Violence in Syria could easily spill into bordering Iraq, where the United States recently ended a war that ran from March 2003 to December 2011 and where U.S. troops and American civilians still work. Beyond Iraq, Turkey, a U.S. ally, borders Syria as do Jordan and Lebanon. If Lebanon is shaken too badly by conflict in Syria, Lebanon could fall into a civil war as it did decades ago, Holliday said. That kind of conflict would spark yet another serious political and diplomatic problem that the United States would inevitably have to address.

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Iran

The big picture then really is regional stability, but Syria offers up a tantalising opportunity for America to do something about Iran. Iran has been a thorn in the side of America for quite some time. If the pro-Iranian government of Assad is replaced with a strongly pro-western government that can be persuaded to distance itself from Iran then that removes a major source of international support for Iran, isolating it further. The respected website “foreignpolicy.com” has argued that by removing Assad the Americans can also undermine Iran with one expert stating that:


I've always believed that the other calculation that's influencing the president on Syria is the issue of Iran and its nuclear program. Many believe that bringing down the Assads is the way to weaken Iran, though the fall of the Syrian regime might only intensify the mullahcracy's need to protect itself and accelerate its nuclear program.

Still, the president knows there's a pretty good chance the Iranian issue may come to a crisis, and the United States may be forced to respond militarily. He is going to need Russian and Chinese support for whatever he does -- and he isn't going to get it on both Syria and Iran. Staying out of the Syrian crisis will give him more flexibility and options on Iran. Getting involved militarily could well lead the Russians and Iran to increase their own military support for the Assads too.

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Terrorists and WMDs

While weakening Iran may be one motivation for American involvement in the Syrian conflict a bigger motivation is that of American national security and the wider regional security. The problem they have is the increasing power of radical groups associated with Al-Qa’ida, most notably the Al Nusra front. The problem for America is that these groups now seem to be becoming more powerful than the western backed FSA. Let’s not forget Syria has a stalk pile of some very serious weapons and is in a strategically important geographical location. For America the only thing worse than Assad is that the extremists gain control and it seems that this may come to pass. For that reason the Americans are now looking at providing even more support to the FSA in order to offset a radical Islamist takeover of Syria. The only problem with that however is that the more extremist groups seem to be gaining influence and even if the secular Syrian National Council were to win and take over control they would then have to fight for control with the Islamist groups.

This is probably then also a good point to highlight that America is not in any way supporting “terrorists”, at least intentionally. Al Nusra is actually now a designated terrorist organisation, the “rebels” and the “terrorists” are not the same they just share a common enemy, Assad. Now yes in the eyes of Assad and his supporters (including Russia and Iran) the FSA are “terrorists”, but they are nationalist terrorists, they are like Assad’s IRA rather than his Al-Qa’ida. In the eyes of the Americans the FSA form part of a rebellion fighting for freedom they are not terrorists in the eyes of the American government. This means that when for example in August 2012 when it transpired that Obama had signed a secret executive order permitting US intelligence agencies to support the FSA, it meant just that, support the FSA, not the Islamic terrorists, they are actually actively trying to avoid this by sending CIA teams into Turkey to conduct vetting on the groups receiving American support to ensure they are not one of the “terrorist groups”. One should be incredibly cautious when using the word “terrorist” to describe any fraction of the Syrian rebellion.

As such when you peel back all the rubbish that the administration is spouting about how this is about human rights and preserving the Syrian people’s rights to self determination and so on you see what this is actually about. America knows that they now have to support the FSA because if they don’t Syria is going to turn into a another Afghanistan only with bigger guns. A big part of current American foreign policy is to prevent any radical Islamic groups with a Al-Qa’ida influence gaining control of Syria

This assertion is backed up by Robert Ford the current American Ambassador to Syria who summed up American Foreign policy towards Syria in saying that:


There are, I think, four key things that we're working towards. First and foremost, we do not want Syria's very large stock of chemical weapons to be used or to fall into the hands of terrorist groups. Second, we do not want Syria to become a base for terrorist operations. In addition, it needs to be a source of stability in the region more broadly. And the large refugee flows out of Syria are actually straining the neighboring states now and, in particular, straining Jordan and Lebanon but to a lesser extent Turkey and Iraq. And we do not think that these things can be achieved without a political transition, a negotiated political transition.

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The Humanitarian Mission

Officially this is the story that the Obama Administration is churning out as the number one priority, protecting innocent civilians. This is true, yes that’s right i am saying America is actually be “doing the right thing”, they really don’t want a humanitarian disaster in Syria. This a noble and genuine motivation regarding foreign policy towards Syria with official US Government humanitarian aid to Syria for the fiscal year 2012-2013 standing at over $400 million, more recent estimates put the sum at $510 million, more than any other state, almost all of this is humanitarian aid to assist the refugees. Yet Despite this humanitarian aid there are still 70 000 dead with 1.4 million displaced by the fighting and monstrous breaches of human rights committed by both sides continue.

The issue is that contrary to what many may have been reading in the press actual military assistance to the rebels has been limited. So far most of the weapons in the hands of the Syrian rebels have been provided by Saudi-Arabia, Qatar and Turkey. America and other western states have been providing logistical support and training rebels in Turkey. There have also been reports although unconfirmed that members of the British Special Air Service may be operating in the region to provide support to the rebels. This support of the rebels is complex because of the presence of terrorist groups, as has already be stated there is a CIA presence in Turkey who hare “vetting” groups receiving American aid to ensure they are not extremists. Yet in addition to this another report has noted that most of the weapons supplied by the Arab states are going to jihadist groups rather than the secular rebels the west are backing.

A comparison to Libya may be appropriate at this junction, to prevent a humanitarian disaster France and the UK went to the UN and tabled UN resolution 1973 which passed a vote at the UN and paved the way for military intervention to prevent a humanitarian disaster. To compare to Syria where this has not been done we now have a full blown humanitarian disaster that is only going to get worse. The problem that America has is that a no fly zone will not work, officially they argue that only 10% of casualties have been killed from air strikes. Unofficially it would seem that another reason they haven’t done it yet is because it would lead to worsening of relations with Russia who would probably veto any vote.

Basically politics are making the humanitarian situation worse, the Americans don’t want to provide more support to the rebels because they fear it would only cause a blowback and put a extremist government in Syria and they can’t go to the UN because Russia could veto any vote, this is why the recent visit to Russia by John Kerry has been so important if the Russia changes its current foreign policy then it would make the situation easier. The politics of this situation is where American foreign policy is failing as they have become crippled by the politics.

To make matters even worse Obama made this comment



Essentially he is saying that should chemical or biological weapons start to be used by either side that would be the “red line” for more direct action against Syria. He is very careful to explain that he means on both sides. It is unfortunate then for Obama that there is mounting evidence that Chemical weapons have been used in anger in Syria. Now no matter how politically undesirable it may be he might have to act or appear impotent.

Which leads us to this

Obama’s Blunder

I am going to be blunt, Obama has screwed up.

First his administration ignored the lessons learned from previous administrations that Assad was not to be trusted, then he took months before demanding Assad step down, he dithered like Jimmy Carter during the hostage crisis. His whole administration has been crippled form acting thanks to the politics of the situation and the stupid “red line” remark has made him look week.

Obama even overturned a proposal from his own Joint Chief of Staff to start providing arms to the rebels because he was scared of the potential domestic backlash and didn’t want to get to involved in Syria.


Testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta acknowledged that he and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, had supported a plan last year to arm carefully vetted Syrian rebels. But it was ultimately vetoed by the White House, Mr. Panetta said, although it was developed by David H. Petraeus, the C.I.A. director at the time, and backed by Hillary Rodham Clinton, then the secretary of state.

“How many more have to die before you recommend military action?” Mr. McCain asked Mr. Panetta on Thursday, noting that an estimated 60,000 Syrians had been killed in the fighting.

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His foreign policy has been a mess, on the one hand he wants to stop the bloodshed in Syria and prevent a terrorist takeover of the country yet on the other hand he fears doing anything and has so far avoided any actual action to influence events. His inaction early on has created a situation where there are no good options left for Syria and specifically his foreign policy. A no-fly zone probably wouldn’t be effective, he doesn’t seem to want to put boots on the ground, has been very reluctant to support the rebels with arms and that only leaves more of his anti-Assad rhetoric until either Assad wins or Syria turns into a terrorist state.




posted on May, 11 2013 @ 01:47 PM
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Obama thus far has been flawless.

Let them do what they do. If we had a civil war, would you want China in the middle of it? Sure 60,000 have died thus far. So should we risk 60,000 soldiers and 60 Billion dollars. I'll keep my $200 dollars, 200 lives, 20 years of repercussion, 20 days of Obama on TV, 20 hours of straight coverage every day for 2 weeks... meh, I guess I'm done with war in general.

Let them destroy themselves, and when they want to build something that actually represents a sustainable government.. we can talk, economically speaking.



posted on May, 11 2013 @ 02:00 PM
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I joined this website because of such well written threads.

Thank you for sharing this deep analysis.

With that being said, It seems like Russia and Iran have really stopped NATO/GCC in their track on this Syrian attempted coup. For 2 years now we hear the same headlines that the Syrian regimes days are numbered, not months but weeks they said, yet Assad stands and clearly stands stronger than a year ago.

A year ago Assad was pushing for diplomatic solutions, all of which were rejected by the Syrian opposition who get their orders from Qatar, and Qatar gets her orders from the USA.

Iran counters Saudi Arabia and Qatar on Syria, and Russia counters Turkey and NATO.

Libyas Qaddafi had no real allies, his allies were the French and Italians, not really allies but more like partners.

Syria has Allies in Iran and Russia, militarily.

I personally believe that once Syria get attacked by NATO and Arabs, the Iranians and later the Russians will respond.

The FSA or as I'd like to call them, the FAKE Syrian Army have done more harm than good. They may have started as a true freedom fighting force, but as of now they are thugs, murderers and Jihadis bent on destroying all who oppose them regardless of religion, views, culture.



posted on May, 11 2013 @ 02:27 PM
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He would need China and Russia not to veto intervention, which they will not do. America can do nothing, except funnel off shore money to terrorists that is.



posted on May, 11 2013 @ 03:19 PM
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Originally posted by Tuttle
He would need China and Russia not to veto intervention, which they will not do. America can do nothing, except funnel off shore money to terrorists that is.


well they might, i coverd it in the OP it seems that just now no they would not but who knows what will happen with the talks they are having



posted on May, 11 2013 @ 03:27 PM
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reply to post by OtherSideOfTheCoin
 


Detailed Thread.


S&F

Personally Obama should keep our Country out of Syria's mess. Let the Russians, Iranians, Chinese, and Israel wage whatever wars they want. No matter what America does, they will always be looked at as the aggressors.
Its time that our Foreign Policy dictates Peace, by staying out of it.

Obama has failed so many times in the ME, its laughable. Whats not laughable is the many victims of 40 plus years that despotism creates. America has one obligation. Stay out.



posted on May, 11 2013 @ 04:09 PM
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Well to start with the US was put in an awkward position in Syria. Assad was not a friend but, he was known factor and always willing to make a deal. While Syria continued to make a mess a Lebanon it was alway kept in check by fear of Isael. Assads number one interest has always been staying power. To that end you could always expect Syria to talk and then do nothing. When the protests started, followed by the shootings and defection of Syrian forces turning into an armed revolt the West was now between a rock and hard place. Syria in chaos is bad for the region and bad for US strategic interests. However the West also is suppose to be supportive of pro democracy movements. The reaction of the US and the West followed they should give lip service while the large Syrian army crushed the revolt. By taking less agressive role the West thought more Syrian would be less likely to rise up if no help from the West was coming. Of course as we know instead of crushing the rebellion in its cradle the Syrian Army joined it. Now everything changed.

As the rebels kept winning the West knew Assads day were numbered but, they really had no interest in getting involved. However radical islamist seeing Assad falling and the rebels a mish mash of groups saw an opportunity to join in the battle against Assad and the hijack the revolution from the disorganized rebels. The west reponse to this was aid and meetings to organize the rebels making sure the radical groups were excluded.

At this point mostly the actions being taken are for when Assad falls and what follows. The west wants the rebels to be able to form a stable gov with enough fire power to put the radicals down. Now if your saying have Obamas actions been what is best for the Syrians? The answer would be no. Quick and direct US intervention would have helped topple the regime but, we all know how well that would go over in the US. Have his actions been what is best for the US? Yes, easly and that is why it has been followed be everbody esle. The US will inrevene just enough to make sure the next gov is pro western without costing any western lives. As we get closer to the end the more likely you will see some sort action from the west to show it has supported the rebels all along while at the same time under cutting the radicals chances at taking power.



posted on May, 11 2013 @ 04:32 PM
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reply to post by sonnny1
 


thanks dude!



posted on May, 11 2013 @ 04:39 PM
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reply to post by OtherSideOfTheCoin
 


No problem. This thread should have more flags and stars that it does, that's for sure.



posted on May, 11 2013 @ 04:48 PM
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Originally posted by retirednature
Obama thus far has been flawless.


No he hasn't.

Hes done nothing with Foreign Policy that indicates flawless intentions, or actions.

I think hes going to get us involved in a war, we have no business in.



posted on May, 11 2013 @ 04:55 PM
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reply to post by OtherSideOfTheCoin
 


I think Obama's blunder s in his indecisive approach to Syria.

His fear of a political backlash prevents him from doing what is appropriate.

And that is to stay out of it. He could be pressing for aid to the refugee camps and be seen as a representative of a country that respects the sovereignty of a country but is compassionate enough to do something for those harmed by the violence.

SnF



posted on May, 11 2013 @ 04:58 PM
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reply to post by OtherSideOfTheCoin
 


All I can say is if he does put boots on the ground, he better change the rules of engagement, which is getting our guys killed in action.



posted on May, 11 2013 @ 05:03 PM
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reply to post by ThirdEyeofHorus
 


I think "putting boots on the ground" is what is getting your guys killed in the first place to be honest.



posted on May, 11 2013 @ 05:07 PM
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Originally posted by ThirdEyeofHorus


All I can say is if he does put boots on the ground, he better change the rules of engagement, which is getting our guys killed in action.




Just look to Benghazi for "rule changes".





posted on May, 11 2013 @ 05:21 PM
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Originally posted by Tuttle
reply to post by ThirdEyeofHorus
 


I think "putting boots on the ground" is what is getting your guys killed in the first place to be honest.


Apparently, "humanitarian aid" isn't getting the job done. I personally feel it is not our job to intervene in everybody else's internal conflicts unless it would affect freedom the world around, as did the Hitler regime in WWII. Also, I do believe that Russia has a dog in this race. Do we want to tip off another world war? I hope not.

Even the Viet Nam war could have been won if some people hadn't screwed it up. That was a genuine fight against real Communist subversion. And so was Korean war.

But since the fall of the Soviet Communist bloc, the enemies names had to be changed.
edit on 11-5-2013 by ThirdEyeofHorus because: (no reason given)



posted on May, 11 2013 @ 05:28 PM
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Originally posted by ThirdEyeofHorus
.

But since the fall of the Soviet Communist bloc, the enemies names had to be changed.


Sleeping with the Enemy is what has been happening lately....




posted on May, 11 2013 @ 05:38 PM
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reply to post by retirednature
 





Obama thus far has been flawless.


care to explain why you think that...



posted on May, 11 2013 @ 05:52 PM
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Look at the pattern here. Obama saves Libyans from themselves with "humanitarian" aid and limited engagement, then sets up an attack on our embassy there, with Marxist Hillary overseeing things in the State Dept.
If Hillary cares so much about people, why does she engage in subversive activities supporting radical components who subjugate women? No feminist is she, but a Marxist stooge.

Now then, moving on to Syria saving them from themselves but never truly committing to the actual saving....what is next there?
edit on 11-5-2013 by ThirdEyeofHorus because: (no reason given)



posted on May, 11 2013 @ 05:59 PM
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Originally posted by sonnny1

Originally posted by ThirdEyeofHorus


All I can say is if he does put boots on the ground, he better change the rules of engagement, which is getting our guys killed in action.




Just look to Benghazi for "rule changes".



ah yes, good point.



posted on May, 11 2013 @ 06:02 PM
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Originally posted by ThirdEyeofHorus
Look at the pattern here. Obama saves Libyans from themselves with "humanitarian" aid and limited engagement, then sets up an attack on our embassy there, with Marxist Hillary overseeing things in the State Dept.
If Hillary cares so much about people, why does she engage in subversive activities supporting radical components who subjugate women? No feminist is she, but a Marxist stooge.



All of this at the cost of American lives.





And you wonder why people are pissed about it.





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