Wall Street Journal on September 28, 2016, in a leading article commented on the US administration’s mistakes in Syria. Excerpts below:
Mr. Obama said the U.S. departure from Iraq in 2011 would reduce “the tide of war,” but war has returned with a vengeance. He said a “reset” would improve relations with Russia, but tensions are far worse than when he took office. He said the U.S. could safely wind down its military operations in Afghanistan, but the Taliban took control of the city of Kunduz from the Afghan government on September 28.
Nowhere is that clearer now than in Syria, the catastrophe that has killed more than 220,000, nurtured the Islamic State caliphate, and is now flooding Turkey, Jordan, Europe and the U.S. with millions of refugees. Far from cooperating with the U.S.-led Syria strategy,Mr. Putin and Iran are moving to replace the U.S. coalition and strategy with their own.
This follows the weekend news that Iraq’s government, supposedly allied with the U.S. coalition, will share intelligence with Russia, Syria and Iran. It’s hard to fault Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi for the decision. He’s watched for a year while the U.S. coalition has made little progress against Islamic State. His decision risks putting Baghdad further under Tehran’s sway, and pushing more Iraqi Sunnis into Islamic State’s arms. But desperate leaders will act in desperate ways.
The Putin-Tehran goal in Syria is part of a strategy to build an arc of influence that extends from Western Afghanistan through the Eastern Mediterranean. It seeks to diminish U.S. influence in the region, pushing on the open door of Mr. Obama’s desire to leave. The goal is to isolate U.S. allies in Kurdish Iraq and Israel, while forcing the Sunni Arabs to accommodate the Shiite-Russian alliance or face internal agitation and perhaps external conflict.
The White House knows all this but so far is doing little more than protest.
But how is Mr. Obama going to achieve that result? Mr. Putin is establishing facts on the ground each day as he builds up Russian air and tank deployments in Syria. While claiming to target Islamic State, Russian planes can target anyone Assad deems an enemy, creating tens of thousands more refugees. And Mr. Putin publicly laughs at the feeble U.S. efforts to build a pro-Western anti-Islamic State coalition.
Even as he concedes the growing world disorder, Mr. Obama still won’t admit that his policy of American retreat has created a vacuum for rogues to fill. He exhorted the U.N. on Monday that “I stand before you today believing in my core that we, the nations of the world, cannot return to the old ways of conflict and coercion. We cannot look backwards.”
Oh, yes we can, as the once promising world order deteriorates on Mr. Obama’s watch.
Comment: Russia, supporting the tyrant in Damascus, is allowed to break out into the Rimland of Eurasia by the present American administration. With a year left in power Obama’s administration may well end like that of Jimmy Carter: with an Iran disaster.