When Obama dismisses the notion that a moderate opposition force could be armed quickly because it’s made up mostly of “famers and dentists,” he shows the depths he is willing to do to avoid addressing his biggest foreign policy fuckup since he became president.
For in truth, there has been thousands upon thousands of defectors from Assad’s armies who have long joined the ranks of the rebels. While the majority of whom were indeed mere foot soldiers doing their compulsory service, there are still thousands of trained officers out there who could be leveraged to build a more professional opposition force. We have been saying that for close to three years now, and many members of the Obama Administration are quite aware of that.
Also, the “famers and dentists” Mr. Obama is casually dismissing, have been fighting Assad’s armies for three years and they have acquired much experience in the process. They can no longer be considered amateurs. Moreover, these “amateurs” have come close to bringing down the regime in 2012 and early 2013, had Assad not received support from Russia and Iran, and succor from Hezbollah and Shia militias from Iraq and around the world. Why else would he have deployed MIGs, barrel bombs, and chemical weapons if he was not hard pressed to do that by these “farmers and dentists”?
In fact, many of those now fighting in the pro-Assad militias, be they Syrian, Iranian, Lebanese Iraqis, Afghanis, or Yemenis, have started out as amateurs as well but now represent a major segment of the fighting force that Assad relies on. In time, popular militias become more professional and battle hardened than regular standing armies. That’s exactly why Maliki Shia armed forces in Iraq are losing out to a much smaller Sunni rebel force.
Of course, there is still a need to train Syria’s moderate rebels, in order to transform them from militias into a regular army capable of representing the interests of all the Syrian people and of playing a positive role in the making of future Syria, but if Obama is serious about that, he is certainly not showing it. The training program in Jordan to which a number of news agencies have already referred has been too small to make a serious dent even in the small southern front, and Obama has yet to order its expansion, despite repeated calls on him to do so by the Syrian opposition, think tanks, congressmen and senators, and members of his own administration, and the promises that he himself has made.
It should clear by now that Obama is only offering excuses and is stalling for time, because the unfolding chaos seems to fit within a certain vision that he has for the future of the region, a vision of which he cannot speak openly as it allows for the breakup of countries, mass slaughter, and mass demographic dislocations. Indeed, Mr. Obama’s evolving position on the conflict in Syria provides an example of the deception perpetrated by top decision-makers in the United States against their constituencies, and the rest of the world. But just remember what happened the last time America’s leaders lied to us on such a grand-scale.
Obama’s inaction on Syria and his repeated offer of excuses in this regard can be traced back to the very beginning. Consider this question for instance: Was the conflict in Syria a civil war in 2012?
Not according to President Obama. Yes, he may now say that it is not up to America to decide the outcome of civil wars and decide on issue of regime change, but it was he who called on Bashar Al-Assad to step down in the early months of the Syria Revolution. And it was he who until early 2012 continued to describe the situation in Syria as a largely nonviolent protest movement for democracy and freedom against a brutal dictatorial regime. It was, by his own admission then, not a civil war at the time, because civil wars do not pit unarmed protesters against soldiers, snipers and tanks.
So why, considering this reality that he was so willing to admit, did he not intervene then? Why did he allow for the situation to deteriorate so catastrophically that Syria became a safe haven for all sorts of terrorist groups, Sunni and Shia, and a training ground for even some members of European fascist groups who flocked to Syria to fight on behalf of Assad?
[These fascist elements, by the way, seem to constitute a real threat to Europe security that few are currently talking about, which is why it might prove to be far more dangerous in the future. Intelligence officers seem to be preparing lists of all the Muhammads and Alis who have gone to Syria and who might become trouble-makers upon their return, if they returned, but who is preparing a list of the Johns and Toms?]
Why did President Obama turn his back on the promises that his ideological camp had at one point advanced and advocated: the promises of Never Again, in relation to the Genocide in Rwanda, and the Responsibility to Protect, a legal doctrine specifically formulated to deal with situations such as the one unfolding in Syria?
At one point, I believed that the answer may lie in a simple desire to keep the U.S. out of any foreign entanglements, and just watch on as humanity transitioned into a multipolar world, but the policy of deploying drones in Yemen and Pakistan and the destabilizing effect that this is having on the two countries, with little to show for it in terms of reducing Al-Qaeda and undercutting her popular support, there and around the world; these policies make the above answer unsatisfactory. There is definitely more going on here, and the administration is involved in it to its neck. And it can’t be good.