In the last week a couple of things were clear, Syria still had chemical weapons and the Obama White House lied to us (again). The recent chemical weapons attack on the town in Khan Shaykhun in the Idlib Province of Syria undercut the Obama administration’s 2014 declaration that "100 percent" of the nation’s stockpile had been removed and destroyed. Yet, we now know that former Obama officials knew that this wasn’t the case, but decided to go forward with it anyway to avoid military action. In 2013, a sarin gas attack occurred in Ghouta, killing hundreds, possibly over a thousand by some estimates, which crossed the red line that the Obama White House set in Syria.
After President Trump launched a massive missile strike against the airbase that reportedly carried out the attack on Khan Shaykun, you saw scores of Obama officials actually giving Trump their sign of approval, including former Secretary of State John Kerry and Hillary Clinton, something that The Council on Foreign Relations’ Richard Haas noted was interesting.
He was on MSNBC’s Morning Joe yesterday, where the panel took the Obama administration to the woodshed over their inaction, with Haas adding that this dithering would be a defining moment of Obama’s legacy. Joe Scarborough asked why there was such an outpouring of approval from former members of the Obama administration, likening it to disloyalty to Barack Obama.
Haas added that there was frustration within the administration, adding that it was stricken with “paralysis by analysis.”
“History is going to be rough on this,” said Haas, adding that what you don’t do is just as important and weighed equally as actions you do take while governing, especially in the realm of foreign relations.
Scarborough tuned to longtime panel guest Mike Barnicle, who said that given the reaction from Obama’s former top aides, it seems pretty clear that they wanted to respond after the 2013 attack, but the commander in chief at the time was not going to do much, except trust a dictator, Assad, that he would hand over all his chemical weapons. Only a believer in the Neville Chamberlain School of International Relations would believe that this was going to work.
Barnicle said that he support presidents being thoughtful in the execution of their policy and for the most part, he feels Obama exhibited those qualities.
“Syria was a serious mistake that the Obama administration made in retrospect,” he said.
“Well, they thought themselves out of action,” replied Haas. “They never looked nearly as systematically at the option of not doing something and what would be the costs and risks of inaction.”
Now, we have Trump White House hopefully getting things in place to clean up the mess.