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Obama’s Real Mistake in Syria

As US President Barack Obama’s eight-year term winds down, he has been facing intensifying criticism for failing to intervene early and forcefully to stop the carnage in Syria – what many call his “worst mistake.” But while Obama certainly made mistakes in Syria, rejecting US military intervention is not one of them.

DENVER – As US President Barack Obama’s eight-year term winds down, he has been facing intensifying criticism for failing to stop the carnage in Syria – what many call his “worst mistake.” But the alternatives his critics tout would have been just as problematic.

Obama’s detractors condemn his decision not to launch a forceful military intervention to remove Syrian President Bashar al-Assad early in the conflict, when the US could have backed more moderate forces that were supposedly in play. At the very least, the critics maintain, Obama should have enforced the so-called “red lines” that he set, such as intervening in the event that the Assad regime deployed chemical weapons.

In failing to intervene early and decisively, it is said, Obama shirked his United Nations-backed “Responsibility to Protect” civilian populations from governments committing war crimes against them. Moreover, he left space for external powers that support Assad – especially Russia, which has sent trainers and strike aircraft to help Assad’s forces – to intervene in the conflict.

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