It is hard to believe that John McCain was his party’s standard bearer just 8 years ago. From his recent piece in the Washington Post:
The words “never again” ring hollow as the city of Aleppo, Syria, has fallen to regime forces of Bashar al-Assad. A brutal siege that has ground on for years was finally brought to a bloody end by a surge of Russian airpower, Iranian shock troops and assorted regional militia fighters. As we eulogize the dead of Aleppo, we must acknowledge the United States’ complicity in this tragedy.
President Obama speaks of the need to “bear witness” to injustice. He did little else for Aleppo. To what have we borne witness? To the use of smart bombs to target women and children, hospitals and bakeries, aid warehouses and humanitarian convoys. To the development and popularization of barrel bombs — oil drums packed with shrapnel and explosives, dropped indiscriminately from aircraft to kill and maim as many civilians as possible. To the tactic of follow-on airstrikes designed to kill rescue workers, such as the intrepid White Helmets, who rush to the scene of an attack to save the innocent. And now to the busloads of refugees pouring out of Aleppo and the tens of thousands left behind to the tender mercies of the Assad regime and its Russian and Iranian allies.
Obama has borne witness to all of this, and more, and done nothing to stop it.
Compare this with Trump’s recent statement on Syria.
I’ve had an opposite view of many people regarding Syria.… My attitude was you’re fighting Syria; Syria is fighting ISIS; and you have to get rid of ISIS. Russia is now totally aligned with Syria, and now you have Iran, which is becoming powerful, because of us, is aligned with Syria.… Now we’re backing rebels against Syria, and we have no idea who these people are.
Charles Lister takes Trump to task for his oversimplification of the crisis in Syria.
Trump’s suggestion to partner with Russia in “smashing” the Islamic State is little more than a non sequitur, given Russia’s near-consistent focus on everything but the jihadi group. According to recent data monitoring airstrikes across Syria, only 8 percent of areas targeted by Russian airstrikes between Oct. 12 and Nov. 8 belonged to the Islamic State. With only one brief exception — the capture of Palmyra from the jihadi group during an internationally imposed cessation of hostilities — the Kremlin’s focus has unequivocally and consistently been on fighting Syria’s mainstream opposition, not the Islamic State.
While the prospect of Trump’s foreign policy is worrisome, Terry Glavin is right to place blame for inaction on America’s part squarely on Obama.
United States President Barack Obama could have made some use of himself on behalf of the Syrian people, but he chose not to. An American-led no-fly zone over Syria, enforced by the 28-member NATO alliance, is not some small thing that even Vladimir Putin could have ignored. Obama could have stood up to Iran, but he didn’t because he didn’t want to. What he wanted instead was his legacy nuclear-deal rapprochement with the ayatollahs in Tehran, a cascading failure that may not survive even the tyrant-admiring president-elect, Donald Trump. The main reason all those Syrians had to die was that Obama didn’t want to do anything to hurt the ayatollahs’ feelings.
It’s painful, facing up to the reality that the most stylish and charming American president since John F. Kennedy, the Chicago boy with such gifts of soaring oratory, the president who spent eight years dancing on the Ellen Degeneres Show and chumming around with Hollywood’s hottest stars, might have spent most of his time in the Oval Office falling-down drunk on the elixir of his own glamorous, impeccable image.
I for one feel quite powerless watching the horror in Aleppo and Syria unfold. I will be attending midnight mass this Christmas Eve saying a prayer for all the people caught in this conflict. My family gave to the International Rescue Committee, a non-profit with a rare four-star rating from Charity Navigator. They can’t make up for the feckless western response to Syria, but their aid will help those displaced by this unfolding tragedy.