Aleppo’s fall is Obama’s failure
Excerpt: If Obama wants credit for not getting us into another war, the credit is his. If he wants credit for not being guilty of “overreach,” the credit is his. If he wants credit for conceiving of every obstacle and impediment to American action in every corner of the globe, the credit is his. But it is a shameful and incontrovertible fact of our history that during the past eight years the values of rescue, assistance, protection, humanitarianism and democracy have been demoted in our foreign policy and in many instances banished altogether. The ruins of the finest traditions of American internationalism, of American leadership in a darkening world, may be found in the ruins of Aleppo. Our ostentatious passivity is a primary cause of that darkening. When they go low, we go home. The Obama legacy in foreign policy is vacuum-creation, which his addled America-First successor will happily ratify. Aleppo was not destroyed by the Syrian army. It was destroyed by a savage coalition led and protected by Russia. While they massacred innocent men, women and children, we anxiously pondered scenarios of “deconfliction.” ... It would be incorrect to analyze our delinquency in Syria in the dichotomously simple terms of action and inaction. The administration creatively pioneered a third option, which it pursued not only in Syria but also in Ukraine and elsewhere: Between action and inaction, it chose inconsequential action. There is the Obama doctrine! We backed moderate Syrian rebels, but not as seriously or as generously as the immoderate Syrian rebels were backed. We sent in small numbers of special operators. The CIA ran a few programs. We acted, in sum, only in ways certain not to affect the outcome. We were strategically feckless. I suspect that the president believes that the United States has no moral right to affect an outcome in another country. I suspect that he regards such decisive action as imperialism, or at least as Iraq-like. What this means in practice is that we will not help people who deserve our help. In the spirit of respecting other societies, we will idly gaze at their destruction. How would disrespecting them be worse?