I originally laid this out here last week. This is a YUUGE departure from longstanding U.S. policy.
It’s much bigger than merely a matter of ops or outcomes in Syria. It rolls back the entirety of the American strategic perspective since the end of World War II, one of whose pillars has been that the “great crossroads” of the Eastern Mediterranean needs to remain open and balanced, accessible to all and under the exclusive thumb of none.
The Truman Doctrine was the first cross-cut of specific policy through this pillar. It functioned as such because it opposed the Soviet effort from 1945 to 1948 to gain exclusionary influence in Greece, Turkey, and Iran. But the Truman Doctrine had a quintessentially American character, in that it envisioned warding off excessive Soviet control through the use of offshore power, development of local clients, and diplomatic and economic influence. The European model of armed force on land, occupation, and colonial administration was not to be the U.S. approach.
Obama’s obeisance to Russia in Syria, finalized this week, reverses the core principle of that longstanding policy. With American forces embedded in a territorial fight, it hands to Russia a measure of control — over our forces’ fate as well as over the political outcome — that can’t be counterbalanced under the structure Obama has agreed to. It hands the fight and the regional veto power to Russia. That’s something the Brits spent decades resisting before World War II, and Americans quickly realized we needed to continue after it.
This is a problem not because there’s no way to cooperate with Russia, under post-1991 (or post-2011) conditions. It’s a problem because Obama is incapable of cooperating with Russia on an independence-of-action basis. Which is the only way we should do this.
Everyone else knows Obama’s incapable of that. And they see clearly the implications for the balance of power in the Near East. Well, there are some Europeans who are still deluded. But not in Eastern Europe. The case I’ve been laying out is a revelation only to Americans. It’s obvious to those in the affected region — including Erdogan in Turkey, which is one of the main reasons he’s making his run for the border just at this moment. Obama has decided to give up on the counterweight of U.S. influence, and an armed NATO guarantee of the status quo in EASTMED, and instead tilt the scale with his own hand in favor of Putin’s Russia.
It should come as no surprise that, in agreeing to “join forces with Russia” and do Russia’s bidding in Syria, John Kerry has kept parts of yet another agreement secret.
Kerry’s refusal to publicize details of the deal prompted critics to accuse the Obama administration of conceding too much, reports The New York Times (NYT). …
Iran and Hezbollah, who are fighting on behalf of Assad, would also be in a position to capitalize on the deal’s intended purpose.
The Times also acknowledges:
The proposal generated deep unease at the Pentagon and in some quarters of the State Department, where the plan was seen as too conciliatory to both the Russians and the Syrian president…
The agreement has also raised alarms because it might lead the United States to support or even participate in strikes against groups fighting Mr. Assad. One of the great complications of the Syrian civil war is figuring out which groups should be considered rebels focused on ousting the Assad government — a goal the United States supports — and which groups are aligned with Al Qaeda or the Islamic State, both of which Washington has designated as terrorist organizations and has vowed to defeat.
No kidding. While it’s true that Obama’s original strategy in Syria served to boost the Al-Qaeda-linked Al-Nusra Front unnecessarily, it compounds the error several times over to turn around and boost Iran, Hezbollah, Assad, and Russia with this new move. There is absolutely no call for that. No legitimate U.S. policy requires it. It’s unconscionable, in fact, since we know what Assad, Iran, and Hezbollah are, and have every reason to understand how Russia will behave. With this agreement, Obama is selling out our allies and regional partners, along with our troops and the American people.
Bonus: this move won’t just energize Erdogan the Would-be Caliph against the status quo. It will energize ISIS against America. ISIS, we are told, is “on the run.” But running and shooting, running and shooting, are what ISIS does best. Being on the run isn’t a death sentence for ISIS; it’s just another phase of campaigning. Life in Europe is being quickly degraded by this reality, and nothing Obama has signed up to in Syria will protect the U.S. from that. Instead, it’s likely to accelerate the same pattern over here.