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Unexpectedly, the Middle East Meltdown Continues

October 12, 2015

By Walter Russell Mead

Vladmir Putin isn’t challenging U.S. leadership in the Middle East, President Obama declared in an interview with 60 Minutes filmed on October 6 and broadcast on October 11, “and the fact that [Russia and Iran] had to [send troops to Syria] is not an indication of strength, it’s an indication that their strategy did not work.” In a contentious dialogue that drew repeated, incredulous interjections from interviewer Steve Kroft, the President insisted that those both in the Middle East and Republican Party who questioned his approach wanted to commit “several hundred thousand” U.S. combat troops to “police the region”.

The Commander-in-Chief went on to share that he had always been skeptical of U.S.-backed train-and-equip efforts in Syria. The skepticism seems justified, though the President seems unwilling to acknowledge that many of his critics warned him these efforts were likely to fail. In a truly shambolic series of darkly comic failures, President Obama’s initiative budgeted $500 million and fielded a few dozen fighters, most of whom were quickly captured or neutralized.

Is this a sample of the kind of leadership that poor, bumbling President Putin will never understand? In any case, President Obama cited the Paris climate change accords and the international anti-ISIS coalition as examples of the kind of true leadership that Vlad the Imploder cannot match. “Over time, the community of nations will all get rid of [ISIS]”, the U.S. President intoned, and a “transition”, with buy-in from “key players”, could take care of Syria.

Apparently, when people around the world think of President Obama’s approach to Syria, “leadership” should be the first word that pops into mind. “Success”, he wants us to believe, is the second.

Read the full article at The American Interest: Unexpectedly, The Middle East Meltdown Continues