The problem of Russian aggression in the Middle East was not brought up in the New Hampshire Republican debate. Instead, the candidates were asked about the outcome of the Super Bowl and urged to attack each other. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) was mocked by Governor Chris Christie (R-NJ) and many in the media for saying several times, “Let’s dispel once and for all with this fiction that Barack Obama doesn’t know what he’s doing.”
But what if Rubio is right? And what about the argument that he needs to keep saying this because so many of his competitors are content to let Obama off the hook for his repeated “failures” in foreign policy?
Senator Rubio is trying to make a point when he talks about Obama’s deliberately destructive policies. In addition to his socialist policies at home, Obama’s foreign policy actions as President are designed to make things worse for the United States and its allies around the world. A current example is the Middle East, where a military offensive by the combined forces of Russia, Iran and Hezbollah is threatening any chance for peace in Syria. After five years of war, the Russian client, Bashar al-Assad of Syria, may survive.
However, this would actually be a victory for the regimes outside of Syria, primarily Russia and Iran. Assad is their puppet. Israel may be their next target.
The network news programs are finding it impossible to ignore the ugly truth about what is happening in Aleppo, Syria. Holly Williams of CBS News covered the destruction of that city, which is the main rebel stronghold. Tens of thousands of new refugees are now fleeing the area seeking safety.
French journalist Natalie Nougayrède notes, “The defeat of anti-Assad rebels who have partially controlled the city since 2012 would leave nothing on the ground in Syria but Assad’s regime and Islamic State.” In other words, the so-called Russian war on the Islamic State, or ISIS, was a fraud. The Russian intention all along was to weaken and then destroy the anti-Assad rebels who want a real democracy in Syria.
As Nougayrède puts it, “Russia has all along claimed it was fighting ISIS—but in Aleppo it is helping to destroy those Syrian groups that have in the past proved to be efficient against ISIS. If there were ever any doubts about Russia’s objectives in Syria, events around Aleppo will surely have cleared them.”
“Aleppo will define much of what happens next,” she points out. “A defeat for Syrian opposition forces would further empower ISIS in the myth that it is the sole defender of Sunni Muslims—as it terrorizes the population under its control. There are many tragic ironies here, not least that western strategy against ISIS has officially depended on building up local Syrian opposition ground forces so that they might one day push the jihadi insurgency out of its stronghold in Raqqa. If the very people that were meant to be counted on to do that job as foot soldiers now end up surrounded and crushed in Aleppo, who will the west turn to?”
Obama’s response to all of this has been to let the Russians and their Iranian allies run the show. He is betraying the anti-ISIS, anti-Assad rebels.
As Rubio indicates, this cannot be considered a misguided policy. Making excuses for Obama doesn’t make sense anymore.
Like the Soviets before, the Russians are diabolical masters of manipulation. Nougayrède notes, “…if Europe sees a new exodus of refugees, Russia will stand to benefit. The refugee crisis has sowed deep divisions on the continent and it has helped populist rightwing parties flourish—many of which are Moscow’s political allies against the EU [European Union] as a project.”
Those “populist rightwing parties” have their counterpart in the United States, in the form of the Donald J. Trump presidential campaign. Curiously, he is anti-Muslim immigrant while pro-Russian. The candidate who failed to understand a question about the nuclear triad during one debate seems willing to let Putin run rampant in the Middle East, oblivious to the fact that Russia is making the refugee problem Trump complains about far worse.
Trump may not know what’s he’s saying or doing, but Obama clearly does. He cut a nuclear deal with Iran that has emboldened the main allies of Russia in the Middle East.
“Without Washington’s interference,” reports Avi Issacharoff, the Middle East analyst for The Times of Israel, “Moscow continues its incessant bombing of Aleppo, killing hundreds of innocent civilians. And Iran is taking over large parts of Syria and in the future may establish strongholds that will threaten Israel, whether in northwestern Syria or in its next target, the Deraa area close to the border with Israel and Jordan.”
Rubio kept saying, “Let’s dispel once and for all with this fiction that Barack Obama doesn’t know what he’s doing.”
Rubio keeps saying this because it’s true. Nothing that Governor Christie said in response to that line of attack disproved the truth of Rubio’s words. And if Rubio has to say it over and over again, in order for people to understand what’s happening in the Middle East and elsewhere, then please say it once again.