While the debate continues between supporters and critics of President Donald Trump’s military strikes in Syria and Afghanistan, a former Obama official has made a startling allegation: the former president left behind “a more dangerous world.”
Moreover, the official was no “backbencher” — he was Obama’s senior director for defense policy and strategy on the U.S. National Security Council staff from 2008 to 2010, Barry Pavel.
Pavel told Fox News that Obama’s Syrian policy was a “major mistake.”
“In Syria, a major mistake was treating it like a humanitarian crisis, when it was a major national security crisis that has caused destabilization on our closest allies in Europe.
Syria has been a source of terrorist attacks in Europe and the United States, and future attacks. I worry about that very much.”
Pavel agrees with critics of Obama’s foreign policy, including the repercussions from his infamous “red-line threat” against Syria’s use of chemical weapons — which he said taught adversaries that Obama “would never use military force for any purpose.”
Those adversaries included Russia, with which then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s “reset-button diplomacy” didn’t turn out as envisioned by the Obama administration.
Pavel noted the consequences.
“Potential adversaries know we had the capability, but not the will.
Because they knew that the Obama administration would never use military force for any purpose, they felt free to conduct their coercive actions in the South China Seas, the Russians went into Iran and Syria and North Korea accelerated their nuclear arms program.”
Former White House Coordinator for Arms Control and Weapons of Mass Destruction Gary Samore also spoke to Fox. He not only praised Trump’s strike against Syria, he said Obama made a mistake by not acting without Congressional approval.
“I applaud Trump. It was the kind of strike that Obama was planning — a limited military attack against the airfields in order to deter Assad from carrying out additional chemical weapons attacks, but he decided not to use it.
Obama made a huge mistake by saying he was going to go to Congress for authorization, it turned out he did not have the votes.”
Obama’s “huge mistake” consisted of first declaring during a 2013 Rose Garden speech that, “after careful deliberation,” he had decided that he would strike Syria — as reported by The New York Times — only to do an “abrupt” about-face and say he’d first seek Congressional authorization.Jim Watson/Getty Images
Stephen M. Walt, Professor of International Relations at Harvard University and an Obama supporter, cataloged what he sees as Obama’s achievements in a January 2016 Foreign Policy op-ed.
But he also noted the “tragedy” of his presidency.
“Yet Obama’s presidency is in other respects a tragedy — and especially when it comes to foreign policy.”
Walt observed that Obama “mostly drove the country deeper into a ditch.”
Whether “in a ditch,” a “far more dangerous world,” or both, Obama’s foreign policy has come under increased criticism from prior critics and defenders alike — as President Trump has done, in some respects, what the 44th president would not.