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The Endgame in Syria
Flabbergasted Again

Once again, the Obama administration is surprised and dismayed by Russia and Iran—this time in Syria. The Wall Street Journal reports:

Senior Russian and Iranian diplomats, generals and strategists have held a string of high-level talks in Moscow in recent months to discuss Mr. Assad’s defense and the Kremlin’s military buildup in Syria, according to these officials.

The buildup is continuing: On Monday, U.S. defense officials said Russian surveillance drones have started flying missions over Syria, and Moscow has sent two dozen more fighter jets to Syria.[..]

The increasing Russian-Iranian defense of Mr. Assad is placing the Obama administration in a diplomatic and strategic bind.

U.S. officials had said they hoped the landmark nuclear agreement forged in July between Washington and Tehran, with the assistance of Russia, could pave the way for cooperation in ending Syria’s civil war. They specifically raised hope that a new diplomatic process could start to ease Mr. Assad from power.

It turns out that Russia and Syria aren’t responding to American gestures of goodwill and conciliation by restraint and retreat. Rather, they are coordinating efforts in Syria to frustrate American objectives. And while the U.S. dithers (pardon us, engages in a rigorous and clear headed process of strategic decision making), Russia and Iran are racing to create new facts on the ground.

One loses track of the number of times that this White House has been caught flat-footed by the Kremlin. It seems that President Obama doesn’t “get” a core element of Russian and Iranian foreign policy: These powers see themselves engaged in a zero sum competition with the United States for influence and power. They are willing to reach concrete agreements with Washington when they believe that those agreements serve their interests—but they do not see these agreements as steps toward a different kind of relationship with the United States.

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  • Silverfiddle

    The difference is, unlike Obama’s cabinet, Putin has smart people who understand foreign policy, and they are not shy about pursuing their goals.

  • Arkeygeezer

    It could also be that Russia, Iran, and the U.S, are cooperating to end the civil war in Syria and to contain ISIS.

  • Fat_Man

    What is really amazing is the flatness of the learning curve of this Administration. Putin most just double over with laughter everytime he reads his morning briefing.

  • Blackbeard

    In order to judge if things are going according to plan you first have to understand the plan. Obama, and progressives in general, believe that the main problem in the world is American belligerence hence they favor retreat, inaction and a dramatic reduction in military capabilities. I’d say their plan is progressing well, wouldn’t you agree?

  • NoPasaran

    On Sunday, I saw a drone travelling up the Mediterranean coast in Lebanon. It’s become a common nightly sight.

  • Gene

    The Russians and Iranians understand (as the U.S., when it was run by adults, once understood) that almost all wars end WHEN SOMEONE WINS THEM. The Obama administration apparently believes a world full of frozen conflicts is a better alternative.

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