Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Testing, Testing ... Is This Thing On?

We must "test" Russia's commitment to peace in Syria, our president says:

Obama said, “There are going to be some bottom lines that we expect for cooperation with Russia. That means restraint on the part of the regime that so far has not been forthcoming.

“So we are going to test and see if we can get something that sticks, and if not, then Russia will have shown itself very clearly to be an irresponsible actor on the world stage that is supporting a murderous regime and will have to answer to that on the international stage,” Obama said.

I get the feeling we grade easily. Since Russia hasn't seemed to pass a test on peace in Syria, well, since ever.

Yet we've seen this effort to see if we can trust Russia before, haven't we?

Kerry may love to hear himself talk, but it will achieve nothing:

But it is hard to see how he can enter into such an agreement with Russia while the ferocious assault on the rebel-held areas of Aleppo continues. Given that Bashar al-Assad’s regime believes that controlling Aleppo is key to its survival, it is equally hard to imagine either it or its Russian and Iranian allies pulling back now.

The problem is, Russia wants to win:

The Syrian military was foundering last year, with thousands of rebel fighters pushing into areas of the country long considered to be government strongholds. The rebel offensive was aided by powerful tank-destroying missiles supplied by the Central Intelligence Agency and Saudi Arabia.

Intelligence assessments circulated in Washington that the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, was losing his grip on power.

But then the Russians arrived, bludgeoning C.I.A.-backed rebel forces with an air campaign that has sent them into retreat. And now rebel commanders, clinging to besieged neighborhoods in the divided city of Aleppo, say their shipments of C.I.A.-provided antitank missiles are drying up.

This is the most frustrating thing about the whole war. Assad led a minority government with a divided military against the majority of Syrians who opposed Assad. This should have been the easiest intervention ever.

Had we seriously supported the rebellion before jihadis flocked to Syria to fight Assad, the regime could have been overthrown relatively quickly several hundred thousand dead and several million refugees ago (remember early on in the civil war our government said we didn't want to further "militarize" the conflict by supplying arms to rebels).

But no, President Obama assumed Assad was defeated, tried to go to the head of the parade by saying "Assad must go," and then refused to dirty his hands by actually helping the rebellion--which has also destabilized Iraq and put Jordan and Lebanon under threat.

Yet still anti-Assad forces fight:

Syrian insurgents who broke the siege of rebel-held eastern Aleppo on Saturday in a significant territorial gain came under intense air attack from pro-government forces on Sunday trying to repel the advance which also cut government-held Aleppo's main supply route.

Rebels have taken most of a large government military complex southwest of Aleppo city in a major offensive begun on Friday to break a month-long siege and are now attacking further into government held territory.

Instead of trying to defeat Assad, we will again "test" Russian sincerity for peace in Syria. Good God. Kerry will be lying on his back staring at the sky again.

And this is called "smart diplomacy" by our leaders in Washington.