Diplomacy: John Kerry’s frenetic diplomacy has led to what’s being called a “cease-fire agreement” in Syria. In fact, it’s another example of the Obama administration’s growing catalog of strategic failures in the Mideast.
The so-called “cessation of hostilities” in Syria should be a time of celebration. Instead, it’s a grim reminder of the utter disaster of American foreign policy in the Mideast.
The slapdash cease-fire put in place by Secretary of State Kerry won’t bring lasting peace or anything like it. It won’t even go into effect right away, but a week from now. And it actually strengthens the hand of Russia, Iran and Syrian dictator Bashar Assad by letting them consolidate gains against the rebel opposition while pretending to observe a “cease-fire.”
Under the deal, ISIS and the al-Qaida-linked al Nusra — the main anti-Assad forces — won’t stop fighting. Only U.S. allies will.
The ancient town of Aleppo, a rebel stronghold where al Nusra has been active, is today under siege by Russian and Syrian forces. So Russia, Iran and Assad’s Syrian forces can continue their destruction of that city without breaching the cease-fire.
Get the picture? The cease-fire seems to be a cynical bit of strategic theater to burnish Kerry’s credentials for a Nobel Peace Prize more than a serious halt to the fighting.
As for the humanitarian aid that’s supposed to flow into Syria as a result of the cease-fire, no one knows who will get it — or who will hand it out.
So once again, the U.S. has strengthened the hand of its foes and weakened its friends without having any discernible strategic goal in mind. This is precisely what happened in Libya, where U.S. policy under Obama and then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was to get rid of Moammar Gadhafi, no matter what. They did, and now Libya is a failed state, largely ruled by competing groups of terrorists, including ISIS.
Now they look to duplicate that neat little trick in Syria. Russia and Iran must be laughing at our stupidity.
Obama’s refusal to commit military resources to the conflict means he has little sway in the region. Even Saudi Arabia, not known for its warlike ways, has offered ground troops — alarmed at the U.S. abdication of its traditional role in the Middle East.
Meanwhile, Russia and Turkey are escalating their conflict and may soon be openly fighting one another. Turkey is a member of NATO and, as such, the U.S. is committed to helping it if it gets into a war with a non-NATO nation. Are we being pushed accidentally and foolishly to the brink of World War III?
As Thomas Donnelly, a former staff member of the House Committee on Armed Services, put it this week: “The collapse of the United States’ position in the Middle East is perhaps our biggest strategic blunder since the withdrawal from Europe after World War I.”
He’s dead right. And cleaning up Obama’s Middle East failures will be a major foreign-policy undertaking for the next president.