February 24, 2013

WALTER RUSSELL MEAD: Did Obama Make The Wrong Call in Syria?

President Obama had an opportunity to intervene in Syria before it spiralled so far out of control. Indeed, that was precisely what a number of his top military and political advisors urged the President to do: arm the moderate rebels and work with allies to boot out Assad.

Now, however, Syria is in a much more complex position. And America’s interests are threatened. The best-equipped and most determined fighters who have risen to become Assad’s most dangerous enemies are not America’s friends; moderate rebels are few and weak. Israel has been drawn unwillingly into the war, protecting itself by preventing Hezbollah from seizing powerful weapons.

VM doesn’t suggest that had Obama acted all would now be well in the Levant. But it’s clear that as the Syrian war drags on, the likelihood grows of it dragging in the U.S. and/or Israel increases in one way or another, despite Obama’s best efforts. As the Economist notes darkly, “Mr Obama wanted to avoid Syria, but Syria will come and get him.”

This must be that “smart diplomacy” we were promised.