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Why Doesn’t the U.S. Know What’s Going On in Syria?
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Why Doesn’t the U.S. Know What’s Going On in Syria?

Gilbert N. Kahn is a professor of Political Science at Kean University.

It a bit depressing when the Russian forces first move supplies, then planes, and then fly missions in Syria allegedly in support of the Assad Governments efforts to rid the country of ISIL and the U.S. is in the dark or is given one hour’s notice that the attack is about to occur. Coupled with the Russian alliance now with Iran and forces in Iraq in the campaign to insure that the Islamic caliphate does not succeed, the Obama and Kerry look like children looking into a toy store window at Christmas time as the window displays are being changed.

The Administration in Washington wants to avoid a confrontation with Russia at all costs. It would like to see the Assad regime removed as well as ISIS, with the other terrorist groups brought under control, but has few supporters other than some token support from America’s European allies. So the U.S. is a bystander, at least at the moment, speaking about the need for a diplomatic solution and an effort to stop the tragic refugee flow. All of this laudatory effort demonstrates the weakness of the U.S. position, from two different perspectives.

The President deeply cares about the disintegration of Syria and the danger potentially posed by a radical Muslim regime ultimately managing the country. The Administration, however, has no coherent plan nor supporters to rally against the Russian led forces seeking to keep Assad in place. The U.S. also appears to have been caught totally flatfooted by Russia’s dramatic moves. Now, if the Obama team were to develop an actual comprehensive plan as to how to proceed against ISIS, the President has very little credibility that he actually will deliver when push comes to shove.

Putin gave the President his hand in New York and then went off stage to pursue his own agenda. Putin’s move renews the historic Russian pursuit of a warm water port which it has sought since the middle of the 18th Century. He also succeeds in projecting an international power force in the Middle East which Russia has lacked for almost 40 years. Now Obama and Kerry are left to talk a good game, with little likelihood of success; unless the Russians and the Iranians get stuck in a quagmire in Syria. At that point the entire region could get very, very uncomfortable.

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