Thursday, October 8, 2015

At Home and Abroad: Obama is Outsmarted, Outmuscled and Outgunned

Matthew JAMISON | 08.10.2015 | 00:00

President Barack Obama has never been more clearly out of his intellectual and leadership depth, whether it be on the «home front» after failing over the course of his administration to curb rampant gun violence in the United States or on the international stage with President Putin consistently outsmarting him and running rings around the American Government vis-à-vis Syria. 
After the latest, and sadly, all too regular and predictable gun massacre on an American college campus in Oregon on Friday October 2nd, Obama called a Press Conference to fume and vent his anger and demonstrate his heartache. However, this has become a consistent pattern of Obama's. He reacts, rather than acts. He talks a great talk, rather than leading with action and delivering results. It is not enough to simply talk about gun problems in America, as Democratic Presidential Candidate Mrs Hillary Rodham Clinton has said. It is not enough to call a Press Conference. President Obama and Vice-President Biden have had almost seven years to actually do something about the disturbing level of gun violence in America and reform the nonsense and dangerous gun laws. 
At every turn Obama and Biden have been outsmarted and outmuscled by the Republican Party and the crazed National Rife Association. As the former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher said of her all male Cabinet: «If you want something said, ask a man. If you want something done, ask a woman». President Obama and Vice-President Biden have spent the last near seven years «Speaking» and «Talking» and delivering «Speeches» on a range of major policy issues, from closing Guantanamo Bay, to a Cap and Trade Climate Change Bill, to closing the gap between the richest and poorest Americans, to reforming gun laws and curbing gun violence.
Obama-Biden are all mouth and no do, or in that Texan saying: «All hat and no cattle.» Obama spent his first year in power faffing around with what turned out to be a half-baked «Affordable» Health care Billwith no public option. Then the Obama-Biden administration botched the roll out of the new health care system, spending $300 million on a website that did not even work, with the costs of the website ballooning to an eventual cool $2 billion plusNo wonder most Americans came to view Obamacare sonegativelyObama's supposed master strategist, Mr David Axelrod, presided over a public relations and communications disaster regarding the selling and roll out of Obamacare to the American public, while Obama/Biden/Axelrod have presided over the largestnet losses for the Democratic Party at a Congressional and State Governorship level in the history of their party, even bigger than the debacle on Capitol Hill suffered by President Bill Clinton during the autumnal mid-term Congressional elections of 1994.
Likewise, just as Obama-Biden have been consistently outsmarted, outmuscled and (forgive the pun) outgunned, by their Republican Party opponents at home, so too has Obama demonstrated what a vacuous and vain lightweight he is abroad. President Vladimir Putin of Russia has consistently outmaneuvered Obama, in particular over Syria policy. Obama's Syria policy is for all the world to see, an abject failure and a powerful paradigm in how not to conduct foreign relations and Global Geopolitics. Obama could learn a thing or two from a superior geo-political strategist like President Putin. 
President Putin has run rings around the Obama administration. If the Obama administration had listened to Russia in the United Nations Security Council at the beginning of the Syrian civil war in March 2011 and sought to partner and work with Russia, Syria might be a very different place today. Russia wisely refused to join in the American led chorus of demanding immediate regime change in Damascus while the fighting was raging on the ground in Syria, instead calling for the Assad family to step down immediately rather than adopting the Russian position of creating a framework and forum for political negotiations and political dialogue for an orderly transition and transfer of power to a future for Syria perhaps without Assad in power in the long term. Obama's policy has been all over the place on Syria and a total mess. After refusing to train and arm Syria's moderate opposition forces such as the Free Syrian Army during 2011 and 2012 and 2013 Obama reversed course.
Yet the American train and equip «programme» which has cost the US taxpayer roughly $500 million is a farce. A hundred men completed a 54-day training program in Jordan and returned to Syria in late June 2015. On 12 July 2015, the first class of 54 fighters of the New Syrian Forces trained in Turkey, crossed the border back into Syria. Despite extensive US-air support, within the first 24 hours of their deployment the majority of the recruits were either dead or missing and their leader had been captured by the al-Qaeda-affiliated al-Nusra Front. 
Al-Nusra Front posted photos on social media the next day showing American weapons and equipment that they had captured from the group. By September 2015, the Pentagon acknowledged that there were only «four or five» US-backed rebels left. Seventy-five Syrian rebels trained by the United States and its allies to fight Islamic State have entered northern Syria since September 2015. Reports indicated that the rebels had crossed into Syria from Turkey with 12 vehicles equipped with machine guns. Soon afterwards however, there were reports that the group handed over their brand-new trucks, weapons and ammunition to the al-Nusra Front, almost immediately after crossing the border back into Syria.
Similarly, Obama's policy on the use of Syrian Chemical Weapons has been a joke. After declaring that if the Assad regime used any of it's chemical weapons arsenal in combat, whether on civilians or rebel forces in Syria, this was a self imposed Obama «red-line» which could not be crossed. When an American President publicly declares a «red-line» normally the world pays heed, takes attention and does not cross such a «red-line». However, Obama made a mockery of himself and the United States, as well as the authority of the American Presidency by failing to follow through on his own self-imposed red line. After almost launching air strikes on the Assad regime, Obama buckled under pressure and pathetically climbed down. 
The message went out to the whole world that this man Obama is not to be taken seriously, is naive and lacking back bone to follow through on and back up his very own words. His credibility, if he ever really had any on the World Stage, was shot through and lay in tatters, particularly in the sands of the Middle East where face is everything. The American President had to rely on the foreign policy brilliance of the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov's genius idea to ship out and eliminate Syria's Chemical WMD arsenal to defuse the crisis and get Obama off the hook which he had pegged himself upon. Who would have thought during the heady days of 2008 and 2009 that the American President, Barack Obama, would end up taking his cues from the Russian Foreign Minister? How humiliating for Obama and the America people.
Again, Obama has had rings run around him by Russia and the master-strategist President Putin regarding Syria. As the whole world saw at the latest United Nations General Assembly in New York, it is President Putin who is setting the agenda on Syrian policy, not the Obama administration. The American President has never looked more weak and impotent in the face of an assertive, confident and muscular Russian President. Under President Putin's leadership Russia is now emerging as the key external foreign power broker in Syria and likely will hold most, if not all the cards, when it comes to sorting out the post-civil war «New Order» in Syria, whenever that day will come. 
Indeed, President Putin is successfully undoing the strategic work of Dr Henry Kissinger, who led the foreign policy removal of the Soviet Union as a major strategic player in Middle Eastern affairs in the early 1970s, when Kissinger brought Anwar Sadat's Egypt over into the American Cold War camp. Under President Putin, Russia is now on course to become a major force in the Middle East not seen since the days of the early 1970s, as exemplified by the master stroke of the anti-ISIS intelligence sharing agreement and informal coalition President Putin masterminded between Russian, Syria, Iran and Iraq. Both the Republican Party within America and the Russian President Vladimir Putin outside America have shown to the world that Obama is nothing more than an empty swank. Will history remember this period as Obama or Obambi?
Tags: Middle East Russia Syria US Obama