Trump Admin Cleaning up Obama's Foreign Policy Mess in Syria
The recent gas attack in Syria is a painful example of how Obama’s approach to foreign policy was downright stupid.
In 2012, Obama announced that the use of chemical weapons would be his “red line.”
In 2013, Assad’s forces gassed 1,400 civilians. Instead of retaliating immediately (like Trump did last week), he asked Congress for approval. The attack was never launched.
Obama then signed an agreement with Russia and Syria that aimed to rid the Assad regime of all chemical weapons. In 2014, then-Secretary of State John Kerry said that Syria had coughed up “100 percent” of its chemical agents.
This statement was proved false last week when more than 80 civilians perished in a chemical gas attack in northern Syria. Like the nuclear deal with Iran (JCPOA), there was no hope of the agreement with Syria ever panning out like Obama had naively hoped.
“We always knew we had not gotten everything, that the Syrians had not been fully forthcoming in their declaration,” admits Tony Blinken, a national security adviser under Obama.
The failure of the 2013 agreement is a serious bow to Obama’s legacy, as it was his only defense for failing to launch an attack after Syria crossed the so-called “red line.”
“The defense was that he got all the CW out, and now that defense is shown to be plain false… If Obama administration officials knew that at the time, they were deliberately misstating the facts. I think Obama will never live this down, nor should he,” said Elliott Abrams, a national security adviser under President George W Bush.
“The lesson I would draw from that experience is that when dealing with mass killing by unconventional or conventional means, deterrence is more effective than disarmament,” said Tom Malinowski, former assistant secretary of state for human rights.
Ann-Marie Slaughter, a national security adviser under Obama, praised Trump’s decision to punish the Assad regime for its crimes, comparing it to “years of useless handwringing in the face of hideous atrocities.”
“For me, this tragedy underscores the dangers of trying to do deals with dictators without a comprehensive, invasive, and permanent inspection regime,” said Michael McFaul, Obama-era ambassador to Russia. “It also shows the limits of doing deals with Putin. Surely, the Russians must have known about these CW.”
Robert Einhorn of Obama’s State Department agrees the 2013 agreement was a failure. “If the Syrian government carried out the attack and the agent was sarin, then clearly the 2013 agreement didn’t succeed in its objective of eliminating Bashar’s CW. Either he didn’t declare all his CW and kept some hidden in reserve, or he illegally produced some sarin after his stock was eliminated – most likely the former.”
Sarin is a “Schedule 1” substance. It is a colorless, odorless, extremely potent nerve gas that causes suffocation. Sarin is considered a weapon of mass destruction, and its production was outlawed in 1997.
While many Obama officials have admitted the deal was a failure, some continue to argue that removing 1,300 tons of CW was better than nothing – even if Assad ended up keeping some. “Imagine what Syria would look like without that deal,” said Blinken.
Author’s Note: Why would you make a deal with a dictator who has already shown he is willing to kill his own people?
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