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Sunday, September 20, 2015

The Obama Administration continues to fail in all areas of diplomacy and foreign policy, and Putin works to build an anti-ISIS coalition.

Links: A. U.S. begins training anti-ISIS fighters in Syria.
           B. Obama spends 500 million to train 5 anti-ISIS operatives.
           C. Putin intentions in Syria.

It was only last May, that President Obama announced that the United States would begin training an "anti-ISIS" force to act as "boots on the ground" and supplement the U.S.-led allied air coalition.  Since then, there has been a remarkable dearth of information on the training program, although a few titles were tossed to the media, including "Free Syrian Army" and "New Syrian Army".  During the summer, while ISIS expanded its operations in Iraq, and increased its hold over Syrian territory, we wondered what had become of this expensive initiative.  Certainly someone needed to stand up to ISIS besides Jabhat al-Nusra (JN), who, aside from their direct affiliation with Al-Qaeda, at least had a decent record in combat with the Islamic State.  This week we learned that up-to-now, the first part of the training program was complete, and after spending $500 million, the U.S. had a grand total of five operatives ready to stand up to ISIS in Syria.  Granted, the Pentagon is quick to point out that over the next three faces of the program, another one-hundred twenty operatives will complete their training, but that leaves us with one-hundred twenty five, to take on roughly thirty thousand rugged, experienced ISIS members.  This Administration knows how to spend money like nobody's business; at least it gives us some idea how the United States went from $3 trillion in debt, to almost $20 trillion, in less than seven years.  But that is a subject for another day.

From a foreign policy perspective, this Administration hangs its hat on three accomplishments: the killing of bin-Laden, the signing of the New Start Treaty, and this new nuclear treaty with Iran that has yet to be ratified by Congress.  I would have added a fourth accomplishment, but the Obama Administration doesn't talk much anymore about the quick withdrawal of troops of Iraq, probably because ISIS dived right into the vacuum left behind.  The disaster known as the New Start Treaty has already been dissected on this blog, as has the nuclear treaty with Iran.  So how does the Obama Administration stack up, as diplomatic accomplishments go?  Obama began his term in office with what is affectionately known as "the apology tour" through the Middle East.  When the Arab Spring blossomed, we were nowhere to be seen.  We were in no position to respond effectively to any of the developments in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya.  We become totally reactive, trying to jump quickly as soon as something happened.  When Russia invaded Georgia, we had little response, and when Putin charged into Ukraine and swallowed up Crimea, Obama looked in someone else's ancient playbook and decided to lead our brave European allies in a new sanctions regime.  As the Russians increased their aggression, the sanctions grew, and we were told that the Russian economy would eventually crack.  I had to ask myself if ANYONE in this administration knew the slightest thing about the Russians.  If you want to intimidate or persuade the Russians to change their policy, don't waste your time on an economic approach.  The Russian people are insulted when someone tries to starve them into acquiescence; they understand what it means to cut back and do without, and if it means giving the finger to the U.S. and Europe, they will tell you to bring on your sanctions!  I understood this simple cultural quirk when the crisis began, here we are, over a year later, and those mighty sanctions have still not managed to bring the Russian bear to its knees.  In fact, I think the Russians are actually expanding their footprint internationally, sending troops and tanks to fight ISIS in Syria.  I guess they figured someone had to do it, and unless it can be wrapped up in a sanctions regime or dropped from a jet fighter high up in the sky, Obama and the United States are not going to step up to the plate.

For every international crisis that has occurred since 2008, the United States has failed miserably in its response.  It truly resembles amateur hour at Foggy Bottom.  All the while, the Russians have truly started stretching their wings.  No doubt Putin chose the Syrian city of Latakia as the arrival location of the first wave of Russian troops and equipment for a number of reasons.  Latakia is on the coast, and would make an ideal location for a Russian naval base to access the Mediterranean.  Also, NW Syria is home to Syria's influential Alawite minority, not to mention a number of other ethnic minorities including Christians.  Putin, as he embraces the mantle of "International Leader", will guise himself as the protector of all the various religious and ethnic minorities in Syria.  And what makes Putin's position so enviable, is that he is ready to back up his new role by putting Russian troops and tanks on the ground to confront ISIS.  The United States could have made the same choice, and would probably have been better equipped and experienced to wipe out ISIS in record-time.  But Obama doesn't appear to care much for the U.S. military, and makes use of our Armed Forces only in specific scenarios.  First and foremost, we must not put a soldier or pilot or sailor in harms way.  Military deaths do not translate well into Democratic votes.  Given how the leaders of Europe snivel at his feet whenever there is a joint appearance, there is no question that they would have directed their military to join an Obama coalition to destroy ISIS.  But Obama was not up to the task, regardless of how quickly the job could have been accomplished and how few casualties would have resulted.  So Putin has moved into the vacuum, and so far, is doing an admirable job.  Cheers to you, Vlad.  Take out a couple of those ISIS bastards for me, will ya?  

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