By John Ubaldi
Contributor, In Homeland Security
Both President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin addressed the United Nations, and each gave vastly different strategies in how to deal with Syria and ISIS.
Both world leaders expressed the same desire to defeat ISIS, but disagree over whether Syrian President Bashar Hafez al-Assad should remain in power; Russia wants him to remain were the U.S. wants new leadership in Damascus.
In President Obama’s address to the United Nations General Assembly he stated, “Realism also requires a managed transition away from Assad and to a new leader, and an inclusive government that recognizes there must be an end to this chaos so that the Syrian people can begin to rebuild.”
Since the last time the president stated Assad must go was back in 2011, but so far Obama has never stated how this was to be accomplished and who should replace him?
In the same address he also stated, “We see an argument made that the only strength that matters for the United States is bellicose words and shows of military force; that cooperation and diplomacy will not work.”
President Obama has never articulated what his diplomatic strategy is, since the “Arab Spring” began in 2011, which precipitated this crisis and for that matter in other areas of the Middle East, the president keeps making bold pronouncements, but is then always followed by empty strategic action.
Each and every time the president issues a “redline” then consistently backs away it always makes the U.S. look weak and ineffective. This weakness and ineffective diplomacy has enabled Russia to take a greater role in the Middle East unseen since the 1970s.
With a weakened U.S. on the international stage, Russian President Vladimir Putin addressed the United Nations and took a different approach then Obama.
Putin blamed the west for the current situation in the Middle East, “It seemed, however, that far from learning from others’ mistakes, everyone just keeps repeating them, and so the export of revolutions, this time of so-called democratic ones, continues. It would suffice to look at the situation in the Middle East and North Africa, as has been mentioned by previous speakers. Certainly political and social problems in this region have been piling up for a long time, and people there wish for changes naturally.”
Putin continued, “But how did it actually turn out? Rather than bringing about reforms, an aggressive foreign interference has resulted in a brazen destruction of national institutions and the lifestyle itself. Instead of the triumph of democracy and progress, we got violence, poverty and social disaster. Nobody cares a bit about human rights, including the right to life.”
Putin was advocating a return to authoritative regimes or basically dictatorships as a way to control the spread of instability, refuting the notion that democracy is the best way forward.
“It is now obvious that the power vacuum created in some countries of the Middle East and North Africa through the emergence of anarchy areas, which immediately started to be filled with extremists and terrorists.”
One only has to look at the dictators and authoritative regimes around the world being rewarded, as the U.S., completed a nuclear agreement with Iran, and re-establishing diplomatic relations with Cuba, all without any change in behavior from these countries.
Putin was stressing how democracy breeds chaos, and the latter is preferable to anything the west is offering.
By the lack of any strategic action by the west, but especially the United States, has embolden Russia to take a greater role in Syria and the Middle East, forcing the U.S. to take a subordinate role.
In a matter of weeks Russia has forged alliances with Iran, Iraq, Syria and the terror organization Hezbollah in supporting the Assad regime, this new axis of alliance further complicates U.S. efforts in the region.
The president’s foreign policy vision of retrenchment by the United States has allowed other actors to fill the void which has alienated our traditional allies forcing them to make arrangements with other countries.
Decisions by Putin by forging alliances with Shiite dominated countries will have interesting consequences, as the Sunni majority in the Middle East will not be so eager to defeat ISIS, while the Shiite’s rise in ascendancy.
Whoever assumes the presidency in 2017 will have to deal with a chaotic Middle East, one where the U.S. is seen as a weakened power.
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