Ex-Obama officials say hesitation to use force in Syria, elsewhere, emboldened adversaries

Ex-Obama officials say hesitation to use force in Syria, elsewhere, emboldened adversaries

News of President Trump’s response to the Syrian chemical attack left several Obama administration officials with a sense of frustration and a reluctant feeling of vindication.

Trump’s decision to act swiftly and decisively, with an airstrike, was what they had wanted to see Barack Obama do in 2013 when he was president and the world learned of the Syrian government’s chemical attack that killed some 1,400 people, including hundreds of children.

But Obama, they say, was too hesitant and too guided by a belief that dialogue was the way to deal with rogue leaders. He preferred the olive branch to the stick in his efforts to appeal to leaders with dangerous instincts, they say.

“I think he left a more dangerous world,” Barry Pavel, senior director for defense policy and strategy on the U.S. National Security Council staff from 2008 to 2010, said to Fox News.

“In Syria, a major mistake was treating it like a humanitarian crisis, when it was a major national security crisis that has caused destabilization on our closest allies in Europe,” Pavel said, “Syria has been a source of terrorist attacks in Europe and the United States, and future attacks. I worry about that very much.”

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