The devastating war in Syria that has caused ca. 650,000 deaths in five years and about 10 million displaced, is largely due to the lack of leadership shown by Pres. Obama. Most of these casualties should be placed upon his shoulders. If the Iraq War is known as Pres. George W. Bush’s War so the Syrian War should be known as Obama’s War.
Certainly Obama did not start the war, it was caused by the ruthless repression by Pres. Assad of any form of dissent and the violent suppression of peaceful demonstrations by citizens against his rule. Most of those who subsequently took to armed insurrection were enemies of the Alawi-dominated regime, mainly the majority Sunnis and the Kurds. But, at a certain point the regime was up against it, they were losing, and even if part of the opposition was the Islamic State, that was no reason to save Assad.
But, at a crucial juncture Obama failed in his leadership role. He set a red-line against the use by the regime of chemical weapons and barrel bombs, that kill civilians indiscriminately. But, then Putin offered to act as a mediator with Assad and Obama took the bait and backed down. He allowed Putin to become the de facto military sponsor of the regime, and ever since then, with Russian bombing support against the democratic opposition as well as the Islamist terrorists, the regime has somewhat recovered. It may only be from 15% to 20% of Syrian territory, but they have retaken land and the opposition has had severe casualties, notably around Aleppo and in the east.
The recent temporary ceasefire that was negotiated between the US and Russia to allow UN/Red Cross food and other deliveries to beleaguered civilian areas has now been scuppered because the US (supposedly mistakenly) bombed a Syrian Army post killing 62 soldiers, and presumably in retaliation, the Russians and/or the Syrians bombed a UN truck convoy, killing 20 aid workers. This has ended any hopes for a ceasefire and leaves the Syrian conflict back at square one. The former city of Aleppo is a catastrophe. If they doithat to their own people what woudl they do to us if they could?
It was Obama’s lack of leadership and general policy of appeasement that has led to this terrible situation. If George Bush is considered responsible for over-reacting to the threat of “WMDs” in Iraq, Obama must be held responsible for not providing leadership when it mattered and letting the Russians into the Syrian conflict. If he had implemented a clear policy of removing Assad from office from the start, the task of subsequently destroying IS would have become much clearer. Obama failed to strongly support the democratic opposition and has failed to prosecute the war in a sensible manner. As such his fine words at the UN ring hollow. He is a good speaker but a poor actor.
But, don’t expect any better from Clinton or Trump; the former will continue Obama’s muddled policies and the latter will not become involved in “regime change.”