October 15, 2016

THE WAGES OF “SMART DIPLOMACY:” Walter Russell Mead: What Erdogan’s Pivot to Putin Means.

Obama handling of Syria continues to become more incoherent and more damaging to American interests. Putin has not only, thanks to White House dithering and irresolution, managed to reinsert Russia into Middle East politics in a spoiler role and his gains have not just included a deepening and commercially beneficial relationship with Iran and the weakening of the European Union and Merkel’s leadership in it over the refugee issue; he has also, thanks to the incoherence of American policy, managed to drive a thick wedge into NATO by further alienating Turkey from the West and, especially Washington.

As for what a naive and vainglorious President Obama once (back in those days when he collected Nobel Peace Prizes and was hailed as the second coming of Abraham Lincoln by a clueless and infatuated press corps) identified as a central goal of his foreign policy—the reconciliation of America with the Muslim world—his callous abandonment of the Syrian Sunnis to their increasingly genocidal foes has done as much, if not more, to tarnish America’s reputation among Sunni Arabs than anything any of his predecessors managed to do going back to Harry Truman.

The issues in Syria are difficult and the alternatives are few, but President Obama’s Syria policy is one of the shabbiest and sorriest displays of serial ineptitude that has unfolded in world politics in all these many years. That his emissaries and representatives attempt to cover the nakedness of their policy with grandiose rhetorical denunciation of the crimes that Obama’s incompetence has enabled merely underscores the horrifying moral and political emptiness of the President’s approach to world politics.

Obama could hardly have accomplished more harm if he were trying to ruin America’s position in the world.

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