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10/14/16

Middle East: Obama’s Syria Policy: The Illusion of US Power in the Middle East - Gareth Porter

The U.S.-Russian ceasefire agreement has collapsed and the the massive Russian bombing campaign in Aleppo has escalated. As a result, the frustration of hawks in Washington over the failure of the Obama administration to use military power in Syria has risen to new heights.

But it is the Obama administration’s role in Syria over the past five years that has led to its present inability to do anything about the Russian military escalation in Aleppo.

The problem is that the administration has pursued policy objectives that it lacked the means to achieve. When Obama called on President Bashar al-Assad to step down in September 2011, the administration believed, incredibly, that he would do so of his own accord.

As former Hillary Clinton aide and Pentagon official, Derek Chollet, reveals in his new book, The Long Game, “Early in the crisis, most officials believed Assad lacked the necessary cunning and fortitude to stay in power.”

Administration policymakers began using the phrase “managed transition” in regard to U.S. policy toward the government, according to Chollet.

The phrase perfectly reflected the vaulting ambitions of policymakers who were eager to participate in a regime change. They saw this regime change as a big win for the United States and Israel and a big loss for Iran.

Not a shred of evidence has ever surfaced suggesting that the US has done anything to pressure its allies to cut off the channels of arms that were strengthening the al-Qaeda-linked militant group, al-Nusra Front.

As a result, the Sunni arms-to-jihadists strategy and the U.S. support for “moderates” were two parts of a broader political-diplomatic strategy of pressure on Assad to step down.

As former U.S. ambassador, Robert Ford observed in February 2015, “For a long time the administration had “looked the other way” while the U.S.- supported forces were coordinating with Nusra Front.

Read more: Obama’s Syria Policy: The Illusion of US Power in the Middle East - The Globalist

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