Washington Post: Putin Forcing Obama To Act Or Yield In Syria

I wonder which way Obama will jump?

Russia’s Syria intervention may force choice on Obama: Act or yield

Russia’s military moves in Syria are fundamentally changing the face of the country’s civil war, putting President Bashar al-Assad back on his feet, and may complicate the Obama administration’s plans to expand its air operations against the Islamic State.

So far, the administration has not budged in its twofold strategy — direct airstrikes against the Islamic State and significant aid for those fighting against it, and a push for negotiations to end what has been the largely separate Syrian civil war.

Senior administration officials acknowledge that Russia has already made some tactical gains in the civil war, even as they insist President Vladi­mir Putin will ultimately pay for what they describe as a strategic blunder that will undercut his already tenuous reputation in the world and encourage the spread of the militants.

How will he pay? He’ll have secured his puppet state of Syria while increasing his influence in the Middle East along with his buddies in Iran. Already, other nations are reaching out. More on that in a bit.

But others within the administration, and many outside experts, are increasingly worried that if President Obama does not take decisive action — such as quickly moving to claim the airspace over northwestern Syria and the Turkish border, where Russian jets are already operating — it is the United States that will suffer significant damage to both its reputation and its foreign policy and counterterrorism goals.

He refused to take “decisive action” when Assad crossed the “red lines” Obama imposed. Why would he do anything now? He’s talked a lot, and blustered a lot. The airstrikes have been called ineffective, the training by our advisors has been a failure, and while the fighting went on, ISIS grew in power. One has to wonder what this is all about. Could there be more than just Russia flexing its muscles and looking to increase its influence? Here’s Richard Fernandez of PJ Media

Paul Richter and Brian Bennett of the Los Angeles Times argue that the Russian strongman is doing something very peculiar in modern history. He is engaging in single combat with the Leader of the Free World. Putin is tearing down one man and not as one would expect, the entire system of a rival nation state in order to gain success. They write, “Putin is using his Syria gambit to disparage Obama”. (snip)

Even the New York Times senses the Russian’s agenda. ”Is Vladimir Putin Trying to Teach the West a Lesson in Syria?” Ivan Krastev asks. He can’t figure out the logic behind Russia’s military moves. “But what does this spoiling power actually want? Is Russia in Syria simply for the sport of watching a humiliated President Obama?”

That is because the logic is less military than psychological. Putin is in Syria to humiliate president Obama for sound strategic reasons. Putin appears to be the darling of the hour. Radio Free Europe reports that Afghanistan’s “First Vice President Abdul Rashid Dostum is seeking help from an old ally — Russia.” Iraqi Shi’ite politicians, caught up in the madness of strongman adulation, have called on Putin to bomb Iraq.

Putin surely knows there is no stomach in America to confront the USSR, er, Russia over Syria. And Obama surely doesn’t want to do anything that could scuttle his awful Iran deal, even as Iran is metaphorically peeing on Obama. Putin gets a twofer: more influence within the ME while reducing America’s influence while making a chump out of Obama. So much for that “more flexibility”, eh?

Crossed at Pirate’s Cove. Follow me on Twitter @WilliamTeach.

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