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Garfinkle on Ending The Syria Embarassment

Is there an opportunity for Obama to turn things around with the Russian Option for Syria currently on the table? Our colleague Adam Garfinkle thinks that it’s there—if the administration is clever enough to exploit it.

If the Russians are not serious and/or the Syrians are not willing to proceed, we retain the military option. (Dropping the military option in trade for a Russian promise to lean on the Syrians, as the Russians have proposed, is a very, very bad idea.) That way the White House can say to Congress, look, we tried diplomacy yet again, we went the extra mile, and now we’ve come to the end of that road. That’s a fairly compelling pitch, and it just might deliver the “yes” vote the President now needs. And if it looks to be less than enough for that purpose, the vote can be put off until, maybe, it becomes enough thanks to some events not yet in view—Micawberism redux, in other words. Either way, the Russian Option can be played in such a manner as to enable the President to get off the embarrassment carousel.

Smart thinking as usual from Adam. He goes on to argue that the administration needs to work hard this autumn not just to salvage its broken Syria policy, but to restore American credibility after a series of disastrous reversals and pivots in its foreign policy. The best way to do so: “[P]lease shut up unless it is absolutely necessary to say something in public. The staccato headlines of late, nearly every one of them sending the gaffe meter through the roof, need to stop. As some used to like to say, the whole world is watching.”

Truth. Read the whole thing.

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  • Pete

    Smart thinking!

    Give us a break. You and Garfinkle still don’t get it, do you?.

    America does not want any involvement in Syria irrespective of chemicals, a Muslim-Muslim civil war or Russia.

    • jeburke

      True. I oppose US intervention in Syria. But it is Obama who said Assad must go, CW are a red line, etc. Then, he backs away, tosses the ball to Putin, and embraces a Russian deal that all but guarantees Assad will stay with US blessing. It’s the worst of both worlds and manifestly no one’s fault but Obama’s. In the end, yes, we are not intervening directlt in Syria but we have also lost all influence on the issue. To recapture influence, Obama will need at some point to ramp up belligerence again, which will be far more dangerous.

      • bpuharic

        Assad must go? There’s nothing there that says we have to get rid of him.

        Tosses the ball to Putin? Great. Let the Russians spend THEIR blood and THEIR fortune.

        The right seems to love the prospect of another unwinnable war to prove how manly men fight wars in manly style.

        But this is reality, not a SNL skit.

    • Bruce

      Pete stole my thunder. I was going to say that whether diplomacy fails or not, the public has no appetite for this intervention. I do not think Garfinkle’s thoughts were particularly brilliant.

  • cubanbob

    After four and a half years what leads anyone to believe this Administration is wise, competent, capable and smart?

    • bpuharic

      The fact not a single dead soldier from Obama started wars has come home to Dover?

      Yeah, if you’re right wing, that’s a failure

      • Brian O’Connor

        Troll lesson continues:

        But what about the wars Obama continued?

        He’s got the troops deployed by choice, not necessity! He could just have surrendered and spared all those lives!

        Troll lesson to be continued.

  • Corlyss

    “if the administration is clever enough to exploit it.”
    Right. When pigs fly.

    • bpuharic

      Let’s bring Rumsfeld back. He did such wonders for US foreign credibility.

      • Brian O’Connor

        Troll lesson continues:

        This is a tu Quoque fallacy.

        Even if true, that doesn’t justify Obama’s gaffs.

        Troll lesson to be continued.

  • Boritz

    I don’t understand these VM articles that suggest that the WH handling of Syria was anything other than smart and successful. Check Slate, The NYT, and Wapo to get your mind right on this.

    • Brian O’Connor

      I thought VDH summed it up pretty well, but maybe not.

      • bpuharic

        VDH can’t deal with anything later than 100 CE.

        • Brian O’Connor

          Yes he can, troll!


  • bpuharic

    The right took us into unwinnable wars that bankrupted the country and killed thousands, resulting in an Iranian takeover of Iraq and it’s Obama that’s destroyed our credibility?

    Only the chattering classes on the right have this delusion. They think folks in the street in the middle east spend their time reading WaPo and counting congressional votes.

    Meanwhile, in real life, people in the middle east are still burying their dead from the right wing “Mission Accomplished” expedition. Somehow, that doesn’t figure at all into our credibility.

    It’s only the WaPo that does, you see. Because Rush (PBUH) said it.

    • Brian O’Connor

      Troll lesson continues:

      And the left dragged us into WWI, WWII, Korea and Viet Nam.

      All were wars of choice, not necessity.

      The left’s hands are forever stained with the blood of innocent victims! The horror! The horror!

      This Troll lesson ends. (To be continued)

      • bpuharic

        Eisenhower got us into Vietnam

        The Japanese got us into WW2 unless you think conservatives don’t believe in defending America when it’s attacked

        Is that what you’re saying?

        • Brian O’Connor

          Troll lesson continues:

          If Roosevelt had simply appeased the Japanese, and let them have their way in China, the Japanese wouldn’t have been provoked into attacking us at Pearl Harbor!

          Surely you’re not arguing against appeasement, are you?

          The REAL blood of Viet Nam covers LBJ. Both Kennedy and LBJ could have quietly walked away from Viet Nam with no consequences.

          The VC would have been appeased and countless babies would have been saved!

          Have you no heart??

          This troll lesson ends.

          • bpuharic

            Hmmm…Obama killed bin Laden

            Appeasement indeed.

          • Brian O’Connor

            Troll lesson continues:

            Meh . . . BO murdered UBL. Should have brought him to NYC for a civil trial. Whatever happened to the rule of law?

            I’m glad you agree that the extremists FDR, Wilson & LBR are baby-killers and the murderers of hundreds of thousands, even millions of innocents.

            End of this troll lesson.

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