At his Friday press conference, President Obama talked about his administration's policies in Syria. It was a serious look at a serious process, and is worth isolating in detail.
He brought up the subject in his opening statement.
"Around the world, as well, there are hotspots where disputes have been intractable, conflicts have flared up, and people -- innocent people are suffering as a result. And nowhere is this more terribly true than in the city of Aleppo. For years, we’ve worked to stop the civil war in Syria and alleviate human suffering. It has been one of the hardest issues that I've faced as President.
The world, as we speak, is united in horror at the savage assault by the Syrian regime and its Russian and Iranian allies on the city of Aleppo. We have seen a deliberate strategy of surrounding, besieging, and starving innocent civilians. We've seen relentless targeting of humanitarian workers and medical personnel; entire neighborhoods reduced to rubble and dust. There are continuing reports of civilians being executed. These are all horrific violations of international law. Responsibility for this brutality lies in one place alone -- with the Assad regime and its allies Russia and Iran. And this blood and these atrocities are on their hands.
We all know what needs to happen. There needs to be an impartial international observer force in Aleppo that can help coordinate an orderly evacuation through safe corridors. There has to be full access for humanitarian aid, even as the United States continues to be the world’s largest donor of humanitarian aid to the Syrian people. And, beyond that, there needs to be a broader ceasefire that can serve as the basis for a political rather than a military solution.
That’s what the United States is going to continue to push for, both with our partners and through multilateral institutions like the U.N.
Regretfully, but unsurprisingly, Russia has repeatedly blocked the Security Council from taking action on these issues. So we’re going to keep pressing the Security Council to help improve the delivery of humanitarian aid to those who are in such desperate need, and to ensure accountability, including continuing to monitor any potential use of chemical weapons in Syria. And we’re going to work in the U.N. General Assembly as well, both on accountability and to advance a political settlement. Because it should be clear that although you may achieve tactical victories, over the long term the Assad regime cannot slaughter its way to legitimacy.
That’s why we'll continue to press for a transition to a more representative government. And that’s why the world must not avert our eyes to the terrible events that are unfolding. The Syrian regime and its Russian and Iranian allies are trying to obfuscate the truth. The world should not be fooled. And the world will not forget."
There are places around the world where horrible things are happening, and because of my office, because I’m President of the United States, I feel responsible. I ask myself every single day, is there something I could do that would save lives and make a difference and spare some child who doesn’t deserve to suffer."
But for those who make quick analysis or come up with easy answers, he talked about how seriously these questions are asked, with some idea of process and detail.
"So with respect to Syria, what I have consistently done is taken the best course that I can to try to end the civil war while having also to take into account the long-term national security interests of the United States.
And throughout this process, based on hours of meetings, if you tallied it up, days or weeks of meetings where we went through every option in painful detail, with maps, and we had our military, and we had our aid agencies, and we had our diplomatic teams, and sometimes we’d bring in outsiders who were critics of ours --
whenever we went through it, the challenge was that, short of putting large numbers of U.S. troops on the ground, uninvited, without any international law mandate, without sufficient support from Congress, at a time when we still had troops in Afghanistan and we still had troops in Iraq, and we had just gone through over a decade of war and spent trillions of dollars, and when the opposition on the ground was not cohesive enough to necessarily govern a country,
and you had a military superpower in Russia prepared to do whatever it took to keeps its client-state involved, and you had a regional military power in Iran that saw their own vital strategic interests at stake and were willing to send in as many of their people or proxies to support the regime -- that in that circumstance, unless we were all in and willing to take over Syria, we were going to have problems, and that everything else was tempting because we wanted to do something and it sounded like the right thing to do, but it was going to be impossible to do this on the cheap."
Later he concluded: "I cannot claim that we’ve been successful. And so that’s something that, as is true with a lot of issues and problems around the world, I have to go to bed with every night. But I continue to believe that it was the right approach, given what realistically we could get done absent a decision, as I said, to go in a much more significant way. And that, I think, would not have been sustainable or good for the American people because we had a whole host of other obligations that we also had to meet, wars we had already started and that were not yet finished."
He noted that the so-called "safe zones" in Syria are impossible unless they are heavily defended if Russia and Iran don't agree to them. But that a temporary safe zone, perhaps in Turkey, may be possible in the near future for refugees from Aleppo.
I think this is likely to happen after he leaves office, as Russia's sop to the Nazi Millennium government, and once announced with great fanfare, it will fade away when media attention turns elsewhere.
Meanwhile, this is the Republican's ally, fomenting warfare and testing out their weapons systems in Syria: Russia. Dark Age Ahead.
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