The war of word between the two coalitions fighting ISIS continues. John Kerry claims that the Russians are killing civilians and U.S. backed rebels, while Russia claims that the U.S. claims were reported before Russian jets had taken off. All the while, the chance of defeating ISIS gets slimmer and slimmer. But the Russians raised an issue that we have heard before; that the U.S. was not being honest about our Syrian Allies.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has denounced all reports of civilian casualties as an “information attack,” i.e. propaganda, and claimed that reports of civilian deaths were being filed before the Russian planes even took off.
Meanwhile, Russian parliamentarian Alexei Pushkov, who heads the Duma’s Committee for International Affairs, claimed the moderate Syrian opposition is “largely a myth invented by the United States,” and said those fighters who weren’t in league with ISIS have “gone to al-Qaeda, and fired at the Russian embassy.” The latter is a reference to the mortar shell that struck the Russian embassy in Damascus on September 20, without causing any damage – an incident followed by calls for “action” by the Russians.
There is no question that there are serious issues with the U.S. led war on ISIS. The training and equipping has been a colossal failure. Rebel leaders have been caught giving American equipment to Al Qaeda. And there is the issue that many of the rebels are mere mercenaries. But is it true that this is just a myth; that the CIA has made up the fact that our allies in Syria are in no way moderate?
If this were true, we would never be told, but there is one sure thing that Putin said which we need to consider seriously.
Putin’s message at the U.N. podium Monday was a simple one: U.S. interventions and unilateralism have backfired in the Middle East, and it is time to try something new.
Putin took particular aim at U.S. involvement in Iraq and Libya, which he said fostered a power vacuum filled with “extremists and terrorists.”
“Do you realize now what you’ve done?” he asked.
This has a strong ring of truth. We were heavily involved in both conflicts and had largely done little more that removed the obstacle from ISIS. We removed a totalitarian regime from both countries. We either personally (Iraq) removed the dictator, or supplied equipment and air cover (Libya). In both cases, large areas of the country now lie in the control of ISIS.
As we are losing our control over the fight in Syria and Iraq, what is our president doing? Well, the only thing that he has ever done well, blame others.
Sensing the rising challenges to U.S. power that were all too evident at the U.N. on Monday, Obama openly faulted the perception — fueled by Republican presidential candidates — that he is a weak leader who has emboldened American adversaries.
It could never be that Obama the Great could have made rookie mistakes in foreign policy. It is a foolish thing to say that people are emboldened by political campaigns. Our enemies and rivals are emboldened by weak actions and policies. Both lay squarely at the feet of this weak president.