When they write the history of the war in Syria they will find a way to blame it on Republicans. That’s why we should welcome Roger Cohen’s consistency. He has declared Syria to be the greatest foreign policy catastrophe of the Obama administration. He has laid the blame entirely at the foot of the Obama administration. He has done it before and he did it again, yesterday.
As we make our way through a moral miasma, a little clarity is always welcome.
Obama has said the Libyan intervention was his worst mistake. He has said he is “very proud of this moment” in 2013 when he decided to resist “immediate pressures” and not uphold with military force his own “red line” against the use of chemical weapons in Syria.
No, Syria has been Obama’s worst mistake, a disaster that cannot provoke any trace of pride; and within that overall blunder the worst error was the last-minute “red line” wobble that undermined America’s word, emboldened Putin and empowered Assad.
As Obama said on Aug. 31, 2013, in announcing his decision to delay military action and seek authorization for the use of force from Congress: “What is the point of the international system” if the chemical weapons ban can be flouted? He also said, “What message will we send if a dictator can gas hundreds of children to death in plain sight and pay no price?”
It could not, Cohen continued, have been any worse:
No outcome in Syria could be worse than the current one. Assad’s bomb-spewing jets and his airfields should have been taken out early in the war, before ISIS. The red line should have stood. The consequences for the European allies of Obama’s let-Syria-fester policy have been overwhelming.
For now it comes down to the situation in Aleppo. Cohen remarked that, effectively, no one cares what is happening in Aleppo. Everyone is consumed by the task of defeating Donald Trump. When Sarajevo happened the world was attuned, attentive and alert to the horrors. People spoke about it all the time. Finally, Bill Clinton did something.
We are living in a new age. We are not allowed to speak about Aleppo because it will make Obama look bad. For many people, especially those in the media, the goal is to make Obama look good. It doesn’t matter if you have to lie and to cheat, if you have to ignore reality. Make Obama look good. If Hillary becomes the next president the media will take up the challenge of making her look great. It is already warming up for the challenge.
Under Obama and Clinton America retreated from the world. America declared victory and brought the troops home. We are now reaping the whirlwind in Syria.
Aleppo, symbol of failure, symbol of indifference, symbol of American retreat, should not have been left to bleed.