War in Syria
Has Obama Changed His Mind About Syria?

As the long-term costs of the Syrian war for the US and its allies mount, there are many signs that the US government could be moving towards a more realistic Middle East policy.

Published on: March 8, 2014
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  • rheddles

    it would be nice if the map could be enlarged as it is illegible.

  • Inane Rambler

    A positive change would be Assad sending the Jihadis packing.

  • B-Sabre

    On the main page, the article is titled “Has Obama Changes His Mind About Syria?”.

  • Pete

    1. “As the long-term costs of the Syrian war for the US and its allies mount, there are many signs that the US government could be moving towards a more realistic Middle East policy.”

    In what way has the U.S. policy towards Syria been unrealistic?

    2. “The Saudis appear to have agreed to police the recipients of their aid much more effectively, taking US concerns about radical groups seriously.”

    Only a fool would trust the Saudis.

    • Corlyss

      “In what way has the U.S. policy towards Syria been unrealistic?”

      Oy! If it isn’t obvious, it probably would be any use to explain it.

  • Anthony

    “The collapse last month of peace talks in Geneva, jointly sponsored by Russia and the United State, had already eroded the slim prospects that a negotiated settlement to the Syrian war might be possible.” So here we are – a Syrian reset (according to FT sources) which can undoubtedly be tied to events in Ukraine perhaps.

  • Andrew Allison

    Aren’t six years of utter incompetence enough to convince you that this Administration is incapable of formulating a coherent foreign policy?

    • mac mac

      They didn’t do so bad compared to the 8 previous years, which were an absolute disaster.

      • Corlyss

        Ahhhhh. Another BDS sufferer chimes in.

      • Mark Hamilton

        Bush’s foreign policy will always be defined first and foremost by Iraq. That is fair enough so far as it goes. But it was not in reality the sum total of Bush’s foreign policy, which in many parts of the world was successful. Some of our relationships with major powers were a lot better under Bush. India, in particular, comes to mind, but our relationships with the Saudis, Egypt, Japan, Australia, Israel, Poland and others was noticeably better under GWB.

        • Corlyss

          I disagree. His foreign policy will be primarily defined by 9/11, as will his presidency. That was THE signal event of his terms. Iraq was an outgrowth of the administration’s 9/11 response, whether you agree with the rationale for invading Iraq or not. They can’t be separated. And there’s a legitimate case to be made that had he not lost his nerve, just like his father did, he was closest to resolving the Iran question one way or the other that any president has come since the Iran revolution.

          • Mark Hamilton

            Where did he lose his nerve in your opinion? Certainly not in Iraq. What he could have done was regime change in Iran rather than Iraq. He chose wrong. In my view the best policy would have been to make an ally out of Saddam, but that sort of realism was out of style then and remains so now. These days, the liberal internationalists call themselves realists and we’re all supposed to play along.

          • Corlyss

            Bush had Iran in the cross-hairs. Even Iran thought they were in the cross-hairs. But, like his dad when it came to deposing Saddam, he listened to the likes of Powell, Scowcroft, and Kissinger and the rest of the foreign policy establishment. He failed to press his advantage. In his dad’s case, it was Gen. Powell saying “It looks bad on tv,” and “You break it you own it,” and “The coalition will collapse and then we’ll be out there alone and we’ll be reviled.” I can just imagine what they were telling a man with far less experience in foreign affairs than Bush Sr.

            Correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t we have Saddam as an ally until he invaded Kuwait? Remind me, what did that get us in the end?

          • Mark Hamilton

            Powell proved to be right.

            With regard to Saddam as an ally, I think that is overstating the nature of our pre-1990 relationship a bit. What it would have gotten us in 2001 is somebody who would cooperate against Al Qaeda and Iran in return for dropping sanctions and easing up on their pariah status. The price would be paid in turning a blind eye to internal repression and eventually selling out the Kurds.

          • Corlyss

            Disagree. All Powell’s remark in 1991 did was kick the can down the road.

            “What it would have gotten us in 2001 is somebody who would cooperate …”

            Naïve at best.

            “The price would be paid in turning a blind eye to internal repression and eventually selling out the Kurds.”
            We did that gratis. Bush sr. was as much of a disappointment as his son in different ways.

          • Mark Hamilton

            We’ll have to agree to disagree on which is the more naive path: nation-building in Iraq or buying a despot.

  • Peripatetic

    If the administration has changed its mind (and policy), why do we have to find out about it by reading tea leaves? I don’t see the obvious benefit of secrecy in this case.

    • Corlyss

      The utter cluelessness of this pathetic lot in charge justifies the secrecy because if they accidentally stumble witlessly onto the right policy, they can reverse course before media reports gain much traction.

  • ahorvath

    Too late. Regardless who wins in Syria now the USA will have (and deserves to have) ZERO influence in the new Syria. Obama just does not understand that doing nothing has consequences.

    • Beth

      He voted “present” in both the Ukrainian crisis and the Syrian Civil War…
      …well, actually he’s not present, he’s on vacation, so you got me there.

      • Corlyss

        At least he didn’t get dash out in front of the cameras precipitously and call on both sides to exercise restraint, like he did in Georgia. I hope folks understand that that bit of theater served us up Joe Biden as VEEP, a man who hasn’t been right on a single foreign policy issue since he entered Congress. But apparently the O-man’s team looked on Biden as the answer to O’s lack of experience in . . . much of anything really, but foreign policy in particular. At least people can say we haven’t been entertained over the last 5 years.

        • Beth

          If the Russians aren’t out of Crimea by the time Joe Biden is back from vacation, he’s going to take a double barreled shotgun over there and shoot it off of someone’s back porch in Kiev. That should scare them off!

          • Corlyss

            I’m torn between wanting to see that spectacle and wanting America not to be embarrassed again. What a team we have: Obama, Biden, Kerry, and Hagel. The 3 Stooges + 1.

  • Blaton Hardey

    Wow, all these people commenting here know EXACTLY how to deal with this situation and are not only extremely knowledgable about the situation in Syria and how things work in D.C. but are also capable of executing their genius policies without unintended consequences — if only they were in charge. Time to install some steering wheels in the backseat.
    On another issue: Why are the Golan heights part of Syria on your maps? That’s almost as silly as calling them “disputed territory”. You might aswell call Hawaii “disputed territory”.

    • Corlyss

      “Time to install some steering wheels in the backseat.”

      Regrettably, the narrow majority of voters who apparently do not learn from experience turned the knowing into anxious and dispairing bystanders for yet another 4 years.

      • Thirdsyphon

        I’d call them, rather, the narrow majority of voters who learned their lessons from the experience of Bush 43, back when they were the despairing bystanders.

  • Corlyss

    Does it matter if the O-man changes what passes for his mind? We all know that that underused organ is incapable of anything more discerning or sophisticated than imposing a fanciful ideological template on everything that crosses his 5-nanosecond attention span. Saves time he would otherwise spend plumbing matters waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay beyond his depth, don’t ya know.

  • pabarge

    Warning! Warning! Warning!

    Walter Russell Mead voted for Barack Obama.

    Never forget.

  • bbwh

    Another words, Obama is stepping aside in this issue, as well.
    We all know he’s not interested. (When is his next TV spot?)
    Who will he hand the decisions over to this time?

  • Dang

    The question is, “Did Obama ever make up his mind about Syria.”

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