Aware that the media spent 2016-2018 crying into their soy lattes – but is there a collective amnesia about the administration after Obama’s who didn’t enable and encourage Russia?
This analysis is missing a key part of the Syrian conflict where the US did ensure no further red lines were crossed – the 2017 Sharyat strikes and Ja’Din incidents to name but two.
A lot of the points still stand in this article but its arguments are weakened by the glaring omission of instances where the US did redress their mistakes and reset the balance for nearly 4 years, long before incidents in Ukraine.
Not a Trump fanboy but it’s ridiculous. “We” did learn the mistakes – but rapidly “unlearned” them.
Remember when Hilary Clinton publicly ‘reset’ relations with Russia after they invaded Georgia? Twitter doesn’t.
Excellent point: you don’t have to be a Trump zealot to realize how awful Obama and Biden have been at everything they touch. Trump’s agents were able to secure a kind of peace between Israel and Saudi Arabia UAE, standing against Iran (which Biden has summarily botched), the Nordstream II was stopped (which Biden summarily botched), and the US was energy-independent (which Biden botched on Day 1 of his reign of error).
Shouldn’t the lesson of Syria/Ukraine be to root out Obama/Bidenism by the roots?
Between Saudi and Iran, the US should be neutral.
Liberals will be the death of us all.
Trouble is most of them have been nowhere and write all this sanctimonious and pseudo intellectual stuff about other cultures with no real data. I was in Tunisia either side of its Arab Spring event, I used to live in Syria and have travelled quite widely in the ME generally. Syria’s disaster could be seen coming as soon as the Obama axis began to meddle and so we go…… If Assad had not survived the sort of cataclysm threatening now would have already occurred.
I agree about the meddling. However the US war party is spread across both parties, not one.
Once again, we find that the US is ultimately responsible for everything that goes wrong in the world. The underlying assumption here seems to be that if only the US were “competent,” it would intervene when appropriate and in an appropriate way, abstain from intervention when appropriate, and the world would as a result tick along like a well-adjusted clock. This assumption and the analysis that results from it denies agency to all other actors; it sounds ridiculous when stated baldly, but is implied by a lot of commentary on international affairs. Importantly, it ignores the fact that no one knows in advance how anything will turn out. It’s tempting but misleading to read later events back into history. State and non-state actors act based on assumptions that may be inaccurate and information that is only partial. Things then happen that no one could have predicted. Analysis that connects results to later consequences tends to be tightly argued when causation is multiple. On top of which, critics often start the timeline of criticism at a point useful to them. One example: the many indictments of NATO ambiguity on the subject of Ukrainian admission, leading to blaming NATO for provoking the invasion of Ukraine, neglect the reason why countries formerly part of the Soviet Union or Warsaw Pact might want some protection against the state to their east. There is little about US foreign intervention in the last fifty years I supported at the time; I see no reason to change my mind. But blaming the US alone is too easy.
Thank you! That is one of the best comments I have ever read on UnHerd! There was the long-term success of Kennan’s Cold War containment policy, but that example is very much the exception, at least in the West. All sides generally put far too much emphasis put by of the role of deliberate long-term policies, intended consequences and even conspiracies on the outcome of complex events. These have multiple actors interacting with each other and having to read each others’ intentions. This is not easy when a key human attribute is the ability to dissemble, even to ourselves!
“If Ukraine is really crushing the Russian invaders, as the generally optimistic accounts of the war on social media suggest (in contrast to the consensus among military experts),…”
Doesn’t that sentence summarize the world we live in?
The article fails to highlight the main difference between Ukraine and Syria: here, Russia is one of the two main antagonists–not an ally of the main antagonist, who can shift the balance decisively.
As Assad was in 2013, Putin is now bogged down in a war he cannot win on his own terms. Moreover, that a world-wide recession has been triggered is not due to the US or western elites. It’s the inevitable result of Putin’s invasion. Ditto for the likely food crisis.
This is not to excuse the many mistakes made by the US and the West in Syria. But unless China somehow intervenes significantly, as Russia did in Syria, any resemblance to that earlier conflict is at best tangential.
As Assad would have had to do before 2013, Putin now looks set to accept an unpleasant compromise–if not a defeat.
Relatively good article there. Although the whole US alliance with moderate rebels (very few were moderate) was elided, and the US invited Russia into Syria? Did they have that right?
Assad invited Russia into Syria.
I know. The article said that the US was the country doing the “invite”, although I feel the author was keen to blame Obama for this.
I remember this clearly – Assad invited Russia into Syria and then Russia told the US that the US was there illegally since Russia WAS invited into Syria by Syria and the US was NOT invited into Syria by Syria
US agreed to and supported Russia taking charge of Syrian chemical weapon problem.
Fascinating article, and well worth reading. The link to Tony Badran’s article is worth a read.
This has the ring of truth to it. America is desperate to stop Iran getting the atomic bomb. It’s a praiseworthy goal, but the price gets bigger all the time.
It’s not just Israel and Saudi that’s been thrown under a bus (those Russian arms will find their way to Hezbollah and Iran’s clients in the Yemeni civil war), but the whole of Eastern Europe has been destabilised.
Where did my comment go