Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Showing Putin and Assad the What For!

In today's New York Times oped page Roger Cohen angrily fulminates  about Obama’s “shameful,” “feckless,” “feeble,” “evasive,” “awkward, “embarrassed,” and  “purposeless” policy in Syria--his administration’s “Munich,” he says.  Wow, that really has to be a disastrous policy, evidently meriting nothing less than seven adjectives and two references to "Munich."

How so?  Well, here’s Cohen's bill of particulars:

1. “The president and his aides have hidden at various times behind the notions that Syria is marginal to core American national interests;”
2. “ that they have thought through the downsides of intervention better than others;”
3.  “that the diverse actors on the ground are incomprehensible or untrustworthy;”
4. “that there is no domestic or congressional support for taking action to stop the war or shape its outcome;”
5. “that there is no legal basis for establishing “safe areas” or taking out Assad’s air power;”
6. “that Afghanistan and Iraq are lessons in the futility of projecting American power in the 21st century;”
7. “ that Syria will prove Russia’s Afghanistan as it faces the ire of the Sunni world;”
8. “and that the only imperative...must be avoidance of another war in the Middle East.”

Gee, to me that sounds like eight excellent reasons to support Obama’s policies in Syria, rather than  “feeble evasions masquerading as strategy,” as Cohen thunders. Surely Cohen is leading up to a point-by-point rebuttal of Obama’s apparent pusillanimity?  What, exactly, does he propose by way of change?

He doesn’t say. Well, ok.  He does have one recommendation: “the president should at least do everything in his power… to “surge” the number of Syrian refugees taken in this year to 65,000 from his proposed 10,000.”  Good idea.   That will teach Assad and Putin a thing or two.