As the Syrian civil war slouches toward its brutal end, it’s time to take stock of one of the most significant diplomatic and military failures in my lifetime.

More than 200,000 civilians have died, including more than 25,000 children, and many more have been critically injured.

Six million refugees have created havoc in Europe and the Middle East.

For the first time in more than two decades, Russia has a significant stronghold in the Middle East.

Shias have cut a swath of religious intolerance through Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon.

Much of the blame can be placed at the foot of the Obama administration, which ignored the potential impact of the war that began during the Arab uprising of 2011.

In 2014, President Obama invited over a dozen  leaders from both parties to the White House to talk about foreign policy. Obama became visibly agitated when confronted by bipartisan criticism of the White House’s policy of delaying Syrian rebels’ repeated requests for arms to fight the Assad regime.

The president defended his administration’s actions on Syria, saying that the notion that many have put forth regarding arming the rebels earlier would have led to better outcomes in Syria was “horse shit.”

During the civil war, the self-proclaimed Islamic State gained a significant foothold in Syria. Obama once referred to ISIS as the “junior varsity.” It’s a comment he probably would prefer to take back, but he did little to root out ISIS, too.

Note: ISIS, which is Sunni, also fought the Assad regime, which is related to the Shia sect, for its own vicious reasons, including the importance of a piece of real estate to train terrorists.

It took President Trump to defeat ISIS in Syria because Obama couldn’t figure out what to do about Assad and/or ISIS.

As a reporter for ABC News and Newsweek, I spent a lot of time in Syria. Although a brutal dictatorship ruled the country, I traveled to many historic spots, such as Palmyra, which ISIS tried to destroy. The market in Damascus, Al-Hamidiyah Suq, was one of my favorite haunts as were the road where St. Paul found God and the Umayyad Mosque, which then-Pope John Paul II visited during a Middle Eastern trip.

I remember a visit to Lebanon in 2011, where I spoke on a panel with prominent reporters from The Washington Post and NPR.

I argued that the United States faced an important decision in Syria. I said that the U.S. needed to provide significant aid, including American boots on the ground. The other reporters, voicing the conventional wisdom of the swamp, said my position was over the top, although the mainly Lebanese audience agreed with me.

At a time when the media seem preoccupied with myriad issues, Syria, unfortunately, has dropped off their radar when we should look critically at what went wrong and what lies ahead.

Missy: …Now, if the Doctor assumes he’s going to die, what happens then?
Clara:   We do.
Missy: He’s trapped at the heart of the Dalek empire. He’s a prisoner of the creatures who hate him most in the universe. Between us and him is everything the deadliest race in all of history can throw at us. We, on the other hand, have a pointy stick. How do we start?
Clara: We assume we’re going to win.

Doctor Who  The Witch’s familiar 2015

[said to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev] This is my last election. After my election I have more flexibility.

President Barack Obama March 27th 2012

Nature abhors a vacuum and with the US withdrawing from the world other are starting to assert themselves.  We saw an example of it over the last 30 days.

Back at the beginning of Sept the Russians started deploying forces to Syria

Russia has begun to deploy an air force contingent to Syria in order to undertake air attacks against the Islamic State (IS, also known as ISIS or ISIL) and other Islamic groups battling the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, according to the Israeli news site, Ynet.

Citing western diplomatic sources, Ynet reported Tuesday that an advance Russian party has already arrived in Syria and will be followed in the coming weeks by thousands of military personnel, including members of an “aerial protection division.” This presumably is a force to protect the air contingent, which is to include fighter jets and attack helicopters, from ground attack. The Russians will reportedly be making use of an existing Syrian air force base in the Damascus area.

A week ago CNN was talking about it:

Russia may be preparing to station troops at two new sites in Syria as it continues its rapid military buildup in the conflict-ravaged nation, a research firm says.

IHS Jane’s said Tuesday that it had spotted two previously unreported sites in satellite imagery of western Syria where steps appear to be being taken to receive Russian forces.

And lo and behold just hours after Barack Obama met Putin and later said this:

defeating ISIL requires — I believe — a new leader and an inclusive government that unites the Syrian people in the fight against terrorist groups.  This is going to be a complex process.  And as I’ve said before, we are prepared to work with all countries, including Russia and Iran, to find a political mechanism in which it is possible to begin a transition process.

Russia said this

Russia has demanded that American warplanes exit Syrian airspace immediately, a US official told Fox News on Wednesday.  

The official said that Russian diplomats sent an official message to the US ordering American planes out of Syria, adding that Russian fighter jets were now flying over Syrian territory, according to the report. 

US military sources told the news outlet that US planes would not comply with the Russian demand.

And did this:

While Moscow’s stated purpose in Syria is to fight Islamic State militants, Russian warplanes and helicopter gunships dropped bombs north of the central city of Homs, in an area held by rebel groups opposed to Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad, a Russian ally. The attacks were unleashed hours after Mr. Putin pushed a measure through the upper house of Russia’s rubber stamp Parliament authorizing the use of force abroad.

John Kerry said this:

If Russia’s recent actions represent a genuine commitment to defeating Isil then we welcome those, and will find a way to multiply it.

But we must not and will not confuse in our fight against Isil with support for Assad.

He then says it depends where Russia has hit – and that if they have hit anti-Assad positions, it would send a bad sign.

Strikes of that kind would question Russia’s real intentions: fighing [sic] Isil, or supporting the Assad regime.

But the funniest thing I read was this line from an excellent piece at the telegraph

All of the targets were non-Isil rebel groups, including those supported by the Western powers. The SU-24s were in action not in Isil’s stronghold in eastern Syria or against Raqqa – the movement’s de facto capital – but in areas where Assad’s forces have been under severe pressure from the insurgents.

The suspicion immediately arose that saving Assad – not destroying Isil – was Russia’s main objective.

Furthermore on The Lead one of the worries was that by giving only one hour notice the Russians were acting “unprofessional”.


I think the Russians are acting very professional, they have a professional army and they are using it to support their allies.

Now I know that to this White House a country using their military might to actually support their interests and their allies is a concept completely foreign but in the real non obama world that’s how things work.

The reality is a person with a pointy stick with the will to use it is more powerful than a person with an army without the will to use it.



By John Ruberry

The clearest example of President Obama’s pusillanimous presidency is his approach to the continuing crisis in Syria.

Three years ago Obama warned Syria’s dictator, Bashar al-Assad, that if chemical weapons were used by the brute’s forces in his nation’s civil war, it would cross “a red line.”

Assad’s thugs responded by using chemical weapons in fatal attacks–and Obama did nothing.

A year earlier Obama declared, “The time has come for President Assad to step aside.”

Assad is still in office and it appears likely that the despot will still head Syria’s government after Obama returns to Chicago in sixteen months.

In 2013 France was within hours of leading a military strike against Syria–but Obama backed off when he told his French counterpart that he wanted to get congressional approval before permitting American participation. Obama knew what he was doing–no president can get authorization from Congress for a military attack in a few hours unless there is an amphibious assault on our eastern seaboard.

Oddly enough Obama did not request approval from Congress for American forces to participate in multi-national attack on Muammar Gaddafi’s Libya.

Where are we three years after Assad crossed Obama’s red line?

At least 300,000 Syrians have been killed in the civil war and over four million refugees have left Syria. Over 12 million Syrians need humanitarian help and over seven million Syrians have been uprooted but remain in that unhappy nation. These are huge numbers–and keep in mind that there are only 17 million Syrians.

John "Lee" Ruberry
John “Lee” Ruberry

The Syrian crisis has spread beyond the Middle East. Scenes of Syrians camping out in Hungary and Austria are a prelude of what will soon be common throughout the European Union. The ultimate goal of many Syrian refugees is not Muslim Turkey or Arabic Jordan or Lebanon, but the social welfare benefits of the most generous EU states such as Sweden and Germany.

Will the Syrian influx snap the European Union safety net?

We will find out–but by then Obama won’t be president and that red line might have arrived on America’s shores.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

by baldilocks

The following text is the first part of the War Powers Resolution of 1973. The last time that I reminded readers of its existence was in 2011, when President Obama decided, without congressional authority, to pull the rug out from under Muammar Qaddafi.


SEC. 2. (a) It is the purpose of this joint resolution to fulfill the intent of the framers of the Constitution of the United States and insure that the collective judgement of both the Congress and the President will apply to the introduction of United States Armed Forces into hostilities, or into situations where imminent involvement in hostilities is clearly indicate by the circumstances, and to the continued use of such forces in hostilities or in such situations.

(b) Under article I, section 8, of the Constitution, it is specifically provided that the Congress shall have the power to make all laws necessary and proper for carrying into execution, not only its own powers but also all other powers vested by the Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any department or officer thereof.

(c) The constitutional powers of the President as Commander-in-Chief to introduce United States Armed Forces into hostilities, or into situations where imminent involvement in hostilities is clearly indicated by the circumstances, are exercised only pursuant to (1) a declaration of war, (2) specific statutory authorization, or (3) a national emergency created by attack upon the United States, its territories or possessions, or its armed forces.

There are some who dispute the constitutionality of the Act, but I don’t think it matters anymore. I don’t think that President Obama ever got the approval of Congress for the incursion in Libya and I don’t think he will bother to get one for this war in Syria–which he is pursuing with a coalition of ten nations. Interesting number, that.

What I do expect: more unchecked tyranny by the person in the Oval Office.

Also, there’s this:

17 The burden of Damascus. Behold, Damascus is taken away from being a city, and it shall be a ruinous heap.

2 The cities of Aroer are forsaken: they shall be for flocks, which shall lie down, and none shall make them afraid.

3 The fortress also shall cease from Ephraim, and the kingdom from Damascus, and the remnant of Syria: they shall be as the glory of the children of Israel, saith the Lord of hosts.

–Isaiah 17:1-3

It’s fairly certain that I’m not the only one who is a bit unnerved at watching baldilocksbiblical prophecy unfold before my eyes.

Juliette Akinyi Ochieng blogs at baldilocks. Her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game, was published in 2009; the second edition in 2012.

Please contribute to Juliette’s Projects: Her new novel, her blog, her Internet to keep them going and the COFFEE to keep her going!

Or contribute to Da Tech Guy’s Tip Jar in the name of Independent Journalism—->>>>





Michael Weston:  Nando Nando Nando You’re dead.  You just don’t know it yet.

Burn Notice Things Unseen 2013


Monday we talked about why I oppose strikes in Syria (because it aids Islamic Rebels). Yesterday I put up a dissenting view from longtime reader and commenter Proud to serve. (It’s vital to show the use of Chemical weapons has a terrible cost)

Both points are valid so the problem is this:

How do you punish Syria for the use of Chemical Weapons while not enabling the rebels?

I’ve thought about this and as far as I can figure there are three options.

#1 The Big way

#2 The small way

#3. The Tiny Way

Let’s examine all three in order

#1. The Big Way

The United States would declare war on Syria and invade both via Israel & the Mediterranean Sea. The United States would slowly prepare an invasion force over the course of 3-6 months building up troops in the area and giving Syria the option to

1. Surrender their chemical stockpiles

2. Remove the Assad family (Perhaps a UN protectorate until free elections)

at which point we would call the whole thing off.

The advantages of such a move is clear:

1. A US invasion would assure that the chemical stockpiles would not fall into the wrong hands

2. The Al Qaeda/Islamists who wish to take over Syria would be checkmated.  Instead of being in a position to take the country they would have to fight us to get it.

3. Such an invasion would become a “kill zone” for Hamas, Hezbollah & Al Qaeda. It would be a place where our enemies would instead of striking at civilian targets would be engaged against the single most powerful military in history.

4. Given the amount of time it took to actually take Iraq out there is every possibility that Assad would take the US (even under this president) seriously and choose to give in either willingly or overthrown by his generals hoping to make a deal.

5.  Such a move would re-assert US power globally while making it extremely clear that any use of WMD would be the death knell for any two bit dictator who chooses to use them.

6.  It would not only solve the problem with killing people with chemical weapons it would stop the whole damn thing.

If your priority is US prestige and deterrent in the long run this is in fact the best way to do this but there are many arguments against.

1. The Public: The US public does not support such an action. Culturally we are not the country that liberated Europe & deterred the Soviets. The people simply do not want this war and when you go to war against the will of your people, it generally ends bad

2. The Army: I’ve talked to service personal who have told me the Army is not in a postilion to fight a war in Syria. In terms of morale our forces are dealing with massive social change while still exhausted from fights where we simply have not be able to trust the people we would be fighting for.

3. The Cost: Financially we are not in a position to pay for such a war. It would be a long term situation with even higher costs in the long term.

4. The Russians: Unlike Iraq & Afghanistan Syria is a Russian client state. It is highly unlikely that the Russians will sit still and let us take out their best ally in the area.

5.  The UN:  I suspect the UN would not be up to the task of administrating Syria until an election as they have proven to be rather feckless over recent years.

Do I think we could pull this off? Yes it’s likely but the price would be high and it wouldn’t be pretty. Even worse as has been the case for the last decade the highest costs would be paid by a tiny percentage of our population willing to make the fight.

For those worried at the very suggestion of such a thing don’t be.  The odds of this administration going with this choice are as high as me permanently replacing Rush Limbaugh on the EIB network.

2.  The small way

Rather than striking at military assets target personal assets of the dictator Assad both physical and financial.

One of the basic truths of dictators is they are pretty much interested in their own comfort and well being.  They don’t give a damn if thousands of people die including their own troops, but if they aren’t sleeping in a comfortable bed, drinking the best wines, eating the best food and dressed in their 10,000 suits that’s something they take notice in.

This is done in two ways.

1.   We publicly destroy the biggest and most prominent palace and/or residence of Assad and make it clear (both in public and through private channels) that any repeat of this behavior will result in the destruction of the next two remaining, then the next three etc until he finds himself lucky to find a Holiday Inn Express willing to put him up.

2.  We go after his foreign assets, every dollar, every assets around the world until Assad can’t afford to order a Dr. Who CD without shaking his tip jar.

Like the military option this has clear advantages:

1.  The damage is limited to the person most directly responsible for the use of WMD.

2. It doesn’t aid any of the Islamists who are trying to take over the government.

3.  It’s cost effective

4.  It puts very few if any US forces at risk

5.  It doesn’t preclude the use of the Big Way if necessary.

and like the big way it has several drawbacks

1.  It a small cost to pay for hundreds of lives.

2.  It doesn’t have a huge impact.  Going from 8 palaces to 7 or even 6 or 5 is an annoyance, not a hardship

3.  The small nature of such a strike may be used as a propaganda to suggest the lack of resolve or strength of the US by our foes worldwide.

4.  It gives the precedent of a “mulligan” on WMD.   A dictator might calculate that the loss of a palace or two is worth the price to send a message on the battlefield or worse to protestors or political opponents.  In fact such a dictator might after such a strike boast about his willingness to stand up and take strikes from the most powerful nation in history.

5.  Assad may have already converted or hidden financial assets in anticipation of this.

This is both a low risk and low reward  The deterrent value is highly dependent on the person you are dealing with.

3.  The Tiny Way

Kill Assad or put a price on his head

The US can present its evidence declare that Assad has used chemical weapons in violation of international law and declare that the policy of the US is to kill him or to reward the person who does.

As with the other methods there are advantages and disadvantages.

1.  The punishment for the offense is directed at the person who ordered it

2.  It is a life for the lives his actions cost.

3.  The sight of the dead, burned or destroyed body of Assad is something that every single dictator considering the use of Chemical or biological weapons will have in their mind when they consider giving the order.

4.  Even if you fail to kill Assad in an age of drone warfare it means that he can not show his face, sleep in the same bed or enjoy any of the perks or powers of his dictatorship.  He becomes Bin Laden without the cave

5.  It becomes almost impossible for a dictator to rule a nation while constantly in hiding.  It slowly destroys his command and control

6.  This creates a HUGE incentive to his generals to do the dirty work for us both for the financial reward and in fear that when the bomb or drone comes said general will die with him.

7.  It doesn’t reward the Islamists fighting Assad’s government.

8.  It’s the cheapest choice pricewise

And of course there are disadvantages

1.  This is a HUGE departure from international norms of acceptable behavior

2.  Once such a declaration is made the target is likely to surround themselves with human shields and the choice has to be made to kill him anyway (the right choice) or no.

3.  If the target chooses to go into hiding it may take months or years to carry out the attack.

4.  There is a real possibility that the opponents of a dictator or ruler will use chemical weapons and slaughter thousands in order to turn their opponent into a target.


All of these three choices would directly assert the principle that the use of WMD carries a price to not only Assad but any person or country who considers deploying them.  Each of them have drawbacks but empowering Islamists in the Middle East in any way shape or form is not one of them.

And I have an odd feeling that it is the reason why none of these options are acceptable to the administration.


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