Bring on the Clowns! Aleppo and the ashes of Obama’s foreign policy

President Barack Obama and the United States have decided to “work through the Russians” on Syria.

The results of that strategy can now be viewed with crystal clarity as a strengthened Bashar al-Assad and Russian military might launch what may be a final assault on rebel strongholds in Aleppo.

These are the rebels which the U.S. pledged to support, and this is the Bashar al-Assad who Obama demanded leave power. These are the same Russians who invaded and annexed the Ukrainian peninsula of the Crimea, and whose weapons and troops stand today within the borders of the Ukraine in the eastern provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk.

This is the same President Obama who overruled his military advisers on numerous occasions and decided to do essentially nothing in Syria–nothing effective, nothing convincing–to stop the war crimes and crimes against humanity, and other atrocities that Bashar al-Assad has been committing since 2011.

The cost is immeasurable.  In lives alone it exceeds 500,000. Due to Western inaction, Russia has reinserted itself militarily into the heart of the Middle East. Millions of refugees from Syria have given impetus to the massive flow of refugees and other migrants to Europe, and elsewhere. Within Syria, millions of displaced people struggle daily to survive. Much of the country has been destroyed.

One fact, however, towers over all the others: Barack Obama, through his ill-considered “deal” with the Russians has–however unwittingly–acted to strengthen the rule by terror of Bashar al-Assad, one of the great mass murderers of the last 70 years.  Al-Assad is Russia’s man, and Obama is working through the Russians.

International law, particularly international humanitarian law (the law of war), the Nuremberg principles, the “responsibility to protect”, all basic norms of fundamental human rights, all decency, and all sense of moral honor have been pushed aside or forgotten by Barack Obama in Syria.

They lie buried under the ashes of his foreign policy.

It is now time to look the other way as what may be the final denouement unfolds.

The Olympic Games are beginning in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. And just as they did in 2012 when the Olympic Games began in London, Vladimir Putin and Bashar al-Assad have shrewdly chosen this moment in August, when the games are underway and government leaders and their staffs are away on vacation, to unleash an all-out effort to take Aleppo.

This moment is a shameful one for Barack Obama and the United States. In Syria, Obama looked evil in the eye, and stepped aside.


“Syria: Aleppo and the shame of the world,” The Trenchant Observer, February 10, 2016.

“REPRISE: The Olympic Games, and the Battle for Aleppo, Begin (July 28, 2012); Geneva II and the urgency of a ceasefire NOW,” The Trenchant Observer, January 12, 2014.

“60,000 killed in Syria—REPRISE II: The Olympic Games, and the Battle for Aleppo, Begin—Obama’s Debacle in Syria — Update #91,” The Trenchant Observer, January 2, 2013.

“REPRISE: The Olympic Games, and the Battle for Aleppo, Begin—Obama’s Debacle in Syria — Update #88,” The Trenchant Observer, October 11, 2012.

“The Olympic Games, and the Battle for Aleppo, Begin—Obama’s Debacle in Syria — Update #70,” The Trenchant Observer, July 28, 2012.

Aleppo symbolizes the enormous costs which America and the world are paying as a result of Obama’s fatally flawed foreign policy, which assumes that American leadership in the world is not required–leadership through actions and not just words, that is.

In Afghanistan, American and other international troops continue to fight the Taliban, which controls large sections of the countryside. Without international support, it seems likely the government would collapse.

Fifteen years after the U.S. invaded the country and toppled the Taliban government in response to the attacks of 9/11, the endless war grinds on. Its overriding purpose, originally, was to ensure that terrorists could never again threaten the U.S. or other countries from a safe haven in the country. Now, of course, a much graver threat exists emanating from Syria and the so-called Islamic State.

Thirteen years after the U.S. invaded Iraq in 2003, American soldiers remain engaged in war in that country.

Today is not the time to go down the list of disasters which Obama and his foreign policy have left and are leaving in his wake.

Unfortunately, Republicans in the U.S. have made their Faustian bargains with the clown they have nominated to run for the presidency.

As a result, a serious critique of American foreign policy under Obama is not likely to be heard from Donald Trump and the Republicans during the fall presidential campaign. 

Rather, the media and the electorate are likely to be distracted by the theatrics of a candidate who to date has shown little capacity to understand what foreign policy is all about. 

Instead of debating Obama’s flawed response to Vladimir Putin’s military aggression against the Ukraine and his military intervention in Syria, the protagonists and the media are likely to spin their wheels debating Trump’s ill-considered ideas.

These include ideas such as subjecting the defense of Lithuania, Latvia or Estonia to checking on whether they had been paying their share of NATO’s budget, or letting the Russians simply have the Crimea.

So, bring on the clowns!

The Trenchant Observer