How (Not) to Make War

Here’s what American friendship is worth now:

U.S.-backed rebels in Syria appealed to the Obama administration Friday for anti­aircraft missiles to defend their positions against relentless Russian airstrikes that have so far mostly targeted the moderate opposition to President Bashar al-Assad’s rule.

A joint statement issued by the United States and other Western allies who have collectively aided moderate rebel units urged Russia to stop targeting moderate rebels and “to focus its efforts on fighting ISIL,” the acronym referring to the Islamic State.

U.S. officials indicated that there is no immediate plan to offer additional assistance to the rebel units that have been armed and trained under a covert CIA-led program aimed at supporting moderate groups and weakening Assad’s hold on power.

This is a tricksy position Putin has put Obama in. Obama can continue to support our “friends” in the Syrian opposition and risk allowing them to shoot down Russian jet. Or Obama can cut and run (which is what he’s doing) and show to the world that the US is not a trustworthy ally, but that the Russians are.

More accurately, Obama put himself in this situation by drawing red lines which weren’t, and by pledging just enough support to keep our “allies” dragging the conflict on, but not enough to topple Assad.