In the waning days of World War II during a discussion of the future of eastern Europe, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill cautioned Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin to consider the views of the Vatican. To this the "man of steel" responded “How many divisions does the Pope of Rome have?” Stalin’s brutal sense of humor demonstrated that he only respected force. Since the Pope had nothing he feared or wanted, Stalin would ignore him.
Fast forward seventy years and essentially, nothing has changed, other than the region of the planet being discussed and the fact that Barack Obama is substituting his faculty lounge lizard ego for the Catholic Church:
Obama said Russia must make a strategic decision about Syria and the next several weeks will show whether Russian President Vladimir Putin will give up backing the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad to join in a broad campaign against the Islamic State.
He's already made that decision: he's going to do both. And why can't he? It's not as if protecting Assad and crushing ISIS are in any way incompatible objectives, after all. O has only succeeded in convincing himself otherwise.
The U.S. won’t in any circumstances agree to a political settlement for the civil war in Syria that leaves Assad in power because he’s lost all legitimacy, Obama said. As long as Assad stays there is no way to unite the country’s various factions for the fight against the Islamic State.
Assad is a dictator; he never had "legitimacy" in the first place. And, aside from the Kurds and the local al Qaeda affiliate, ISIS wiped out or assimilated "the country's various factions" years ago. And they're not "legitimate," either. The Syrian civil war isn't about legal niceties and nuances and political settlements; it's about force, not pumping the air full of useless words that those with the REAL power will never heed in any case. And it is force that will - already is - giving THEIR words the weight that The One's gibberings lack.
“It would not work to keep him in power,’’ Obama said at a news conference Sunday in Kuala Lumpur. “This is a practical issue, not just a matter of conscience.’’
Putin is proving otherwise.
There is an increasing awareness on the Putin’s part that the [Muslim] group is a much bigger threat to Russia than losing an embattled ally in Assad or anything else in the region, Obama said.
What hypocritical, fantasist claptrap. It's not binary for the Russians, Barry. Maybe your entreaty would be credible if you'd start taking ISIS seriously yourself; like, say, agreeing to halt all immigration of Syrian "refugees," and, oh, I don't know, redeploying a hundred thousand U.S. troops to Iraq.
The U.S. and its allies will press ahead with their battle against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq with or without Russia’s cooperation, he said
After regaining his composure and control over his eye-rolling, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev had the inevitable retort:
“The strengthening of the Islamic State became possible partially due to irresponsible policies of the United States. Instead of concentrating joint efforts on fighting terrorism, the United States and its allies decided to fight against the lawfully elected [snort] president of Syria, Bashar Assad…The sensible policy in the Middle Eastern countries, be it Syria, Egypt or Iraq, for all countries, including the United States, should entail support of the legitimate authorities, who are able to ensure the integrity of the state, and not destabilize the situation.”
Medvedev (almost) nailed it. The inescapable fact of the matter is Syria is in the condition it is today because of Barack Obama's clandestine aiding and abetting of the uprising against Assad combined with abandoning Iraq and allowing al Qaeda in Iraq to resurrect itself as the Islamic State. Put another way, ISIS owes its existence to Barack Obama. The One is ISIS's literal godfather.
And as far as Assad goes, Red Barry had the chance to take him out two years ago and not only chickened out, but punted the whole Syria mess he created to....Vladimir Putin, who was always going to take Assad's side and prop him up. And now there he stands at his lecturn, lecturing Putin not just on how the Russian strongman must follow all the policy prescriptions that he never did because he wasn't willing to put American military force behind them. Is it any wonder that Putin said a few weeks back that Obama has shit for brains?
Here's an even more galloping irony: Obama's "Assad must go" fixation is preventing the new leader of the First World (there is no "free" world, anymore), French President Francois Hollande, from putting together the grand alliance Obama, in other fixations, insists is necessary before the Islamic State can even be confronted. As I pointed out just last week, the Russians have large military forces in Syria and they were already fighting ISIS, and after the Sinai incident they have additional motivation. This is the perfect opportunity to do a reprise of the eastern front in World War II, using the Russians as cannon fodder to do our ground fighting for us. Just make isolated common cause with them, redeploy large American forces to Iraq, and roll up the Islamic State from all sides. Overrun and overwhelm them. And then we can bicker about Assad.
If "defeating and destroying" ISIS was truly Barack Obama's goal and intent, surely his admonition to Putin of prioritizing that over Assad's ultimate disposition applies to him as well. And yet he's putting getting rid of Assad over getting rid of ISIS as an excuse for NOT allying with the Russians against the Islamic State. Which can only benefit.....ISIS.
Putin sees this. All the "Arab allies" that have drifted away from O's phony "coalition" see this. All the rest of our allies see this. But Barack Obama sees only what he wants to see. And what he sees is all the world as a classroom, and himself as the world's stern, smug professor.
And folks, it won't be spitballs that he never sees coming.