Writing in the liberal New York Observer, national security analyst John Schindler paints a bleak picture of the Obama administration’s efforts against the Islamic State, which all but concede Syria to Russia:
For the Obama administration, the news from the Middle East keeps going from bad to worse. Vladimir Putin’s power play, moving significant military forces into Syria to support his ailing client, Bashar al-Assad, caught the White House flat footed and unsure how to respond.
Although the administration gave the Kremlin de facto control over American policy in Syria some two years ago when it walked away from its own “red line,” granting Russia a veto on Western action there, President Obama and his national security staff nevertheless seem befuddled by this latest Russian move.
The forces Mr. Putin has just deployed to Syria are impressive, veteran special operators backed by a wing of fighters and ground attack jets that are expected to commence air strikes on Assad’s foes soon. They are backed by air defense units, which is puzzling since the Islamic State has no air force, indicating that the Kremlin’s true intent in Syria has little to do with the stated aim of fighting terrorism and is really about propping up Russia’s longtime client in Damascus.
The White House is left planning “deconfliction” with Moscow—which is diplomatic language for entreating Russians, who now dominate Syrian airspace, not to shoot down American drones, which provide the lion’s share of our intelligence on the Islamic State. The recent meeting on Syrian developments between Mr. Putin and Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who clearly finds dealing with the Russian strongman preferable to parleying with President Obama, indicates where power is flowing in today’s Middle East.
Did you catch that last part? After seven years of being pimp-slapped by an at-best indifferent (1) American administration, our strongest enemy in the Middle East feels a need to protect its own interests by “reaching out” to the new power in the area, since we can no longer be counted on.
Team Obama’s foreign policy (and that includes former Secretary of State Clinton) has been an accelerating avalanche since the day it took office and, in the last couple of years, we’ve started seeing the bitter fruit of “smart power.” From the Russian reset and the backstabbing of Poland and the Czech Republic on missile defense, to the withdrawal from Iraq and the total misreading of the Arab Spring and the monumentally bad deal with Iran, I don’t believe our foreign policy has ever been lead by such a toxic mixture of leftist dogmatism and sheer incompetence. What we’re witnessing in the Middle East is the utter –and perhaps deliberate— destruction of an American position built up over 40 years by administrations of both parties.
Go ahead and read the whole thing. And have a stiff drink handy.
(1) And, arguably, anti-Israel or even antisemitic.