White House ready for solo strike on Syria as US allies and influence fade
The shock Thursday, Aug. 29, of Britain’s David Cameron parliamentary defeat – thereby knocking America’s foremost partner out of the coming strike against Syria – highlighted public opposition to the operation in America and criticism in the top US military command.
The White House hastened to stress that America, while still interested in engaging allies, was ready to act unilaterally without UN or allied support.
Nonetheless, the Syrian conflict after nearly three years continues to be covered in confusion, much of it generated by the Obama administration’s conflicting policies.
After resolute condemnation of the Assad regime’s “heinous crime” of using chemical weapons against its people, the president opted for a low-key, practically painless military strike against Syria. The Syria ruler would be able to wave his hands in a gesture of victory, followed by Vladmir Putin. Iran’s leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei would say, I told you so, the United States is a paper tiger and will never attack our nuclear program.
By voting for opposition Labor’s motion against UK involvement in military action in Syria, the British parliament not only shattered Obama’s multinational coalition for Syria; it struck at the heart of the North Atlantic Treaty Alliance (NATO), the historic bulwark of Western security since the last world war.
The alliance’s fortunes have faded progressively under the vacillating foreign and security polices of President Barack Obama.
In 2009, the US president announced a new policy direction that would henceforth hinge on a “tilt to the East.” It was followed by America’s untidy military exit from Iraq and fumbles in Afghanistan leaving both countries prey to the havoc of bloody sectarian warfare.
His refusal to acknowledge the menacing spread of al Qaeda was compounded by his muddled approach to the Arab Revolt : While endorsing the overthrow of two autocrats, Mubarak and Qadafi, he conducted a hands-off policy for the most bloodthirsty tyrant of the Arab world, Bashar Assad, and Iran’s hired terrorist chief, Hassan Nasrallah.
In the Middle East, Obama insisted that the US and the West stay out of the region’s affairs. While advising its leaders, including Israel’s, not to depend on America, he demanded their obedience at the same time.
In the Syrian crisis, Obama is reaping the harvest of his inconsistent foreign policies, which can no longer be papered over with fine speeches. The fall of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, which he championed as the epitome of Islamic moderation, shattered US influence in the region and placed it at a hazardous crossroads, while his tepid military plans for Bashar Assad have resulted in the sounding NATO’s death knell.
The half-hearted military operation against Syria, due to be launched in the coming days, and its muddled objectives, may finally close the book on the current chapter of US history in the Middle East – even if it successful.
The world will be left rubbing its eyes in amazement at the achievement of one individual, president Barack Obama of the USA, in smashing American influence in this sensitive region and Europe in the space of a few short years.
British Prime Minister David Cameron’s political future is in grave doubt after the House of Commons withheld endorsement from the government’s policy of participation in a US-led strike on Syria. Parliament voted 285 in favor to 272 against, with 30 members of his own Conservative party and 9 of his coalition partner, the Liberals, crossing the line and voting with the Labor opposition against the government.
Cameron may be just the first victim among Western and Middle East leaders who opted to toe Obama’s wavering line and continually shift around their national interests.
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is fond of saying his policies are “responsible and balanced.” This mostly translates into inaction or procrastination on such vital issues as Iran’s nuclear aspirations and Hizballah’s massive buildup of rockets.
But now, Khamenei, Assad and Nasrallah will be buoyed up by America’s loss of allied support and more likely than not make good on their threats, heard repeatedly in the past week, to destroy Israel once and for all. It won’t be enough to keep on intoning solemnly that Israel is not involved in the Syrian conflict – which no one believes anyway. Netanyahu will have to start looking squarely at the perils just around the corner and move proactively.