Tag Archives: Obama

Book Review: The Consequences of Syria (2014) by Lee Smith

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on May 9, 2015

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Lee Smith’s The Consequences of Syria is part of the Hoover Institution’s “The Great Unravelling” series, which also included The Struggle for Mastery in the Fertile Crescent by the late Fouad Ajami (which I reviewed here.) You can purchase a copy here.

Published in June 2014, Smith narrates Syria’s terrible war to the opening months of 2014, the innumerable excuses made by the Obama administration for letting it run, and the theoretical framework behind the administration’s decision. The book is relatively short and the prose is direct; it takes very complex discussions of ideas and puts them in easily-digestible terms—all while keeping the reader’s eye on the practical implications.

Smith starts with the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the central event in President Obama’s thinking about the Middle East. Continue reading

Obama’s Syria Policy Protects Assad

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on February 22, 2015

Kafranbel gets it

Kafranbel gets it

The United States is about to begin training some Syrian rebels, and giving them the ability to call in U.S. airstrikes, the Wall Street Journal reports. Continue reading

Obama’s National Security Strategy

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on February 14, 2015

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The National Security Strategy is never a riveting read, and the NSS put out by the Obama administration on Feb. 6, only their second (the last in May 2010), was no exception. “Strategic patience” was the mantra with which this NSS was launched, to fairly wide derision as a rationalisation of the last six years of hesitancy and retrenchment. It was a criticism with some basis in fact. Continue reading

Nuclear Negotiations With Iran Go On—And On And On

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on December 2, 2014

Fordow, an Iranian nuclear enrichment facility near Qom—easily mistaken for the volcano lair of a Bond villain

Fordow, an Iranian nuclear enrichment facility near Qom—easily mistaken for the volcano lair of a Bond villain

It wasn’t exactly a nail-biting finish in the end was it? In Vienna on Nov. 24, the P5+1 and Iranian negotiators decided to extend for another seven months the “interim” deal, the Joint Plan of Action (JPA), made in November 2013 on Iran’s nuclear weapons program, until June 2015. Conditions always favoured an extension but I was not absolutely sure that this is what would happen until Secretary of State John Kerry said on Nov. 21: “We are not discussing an extension.” Continue reading

America Must Go After Assad As Well As The Islamic State

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on September 30, 2014

Aftermath of strikes on Jabhat an-Nusra's HQ in al-Muhandisin district of Aleppo City, Sept. 27, 2014

Aftermath of strikes on Jabhat an-Nusra’s HQ in al-Muhandisin district of Aleppo City, Sept. 27, 2014

I admit to some initial ambivalence over the extension of the American-led air war against the Islamic State (I.S.) into Syria. After forty-two months of President Obama’s inaction in Syria, there was an irrepressible sense of “at last”. This quickly unravelled. Continue reading

Obama Declares War On The Islamic State … Kind Of

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on September 13, 2014

On Wednesday night, President Obama gave a speech, the purport of which was to be a war plan to defeat the Islamic State (I.S.). Indeed in the speech the President committed to a “roll back” of the territory the I.S. had conquered, and to “degrade and ultimately destroy” the Takfiri Caliphate. But as to how he was going to do that, the details were few. Continue reading

Ghouta: One Year On

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on August 21, 2014

Some of the children killed by the Assad regime's CW attack on Aug. 21, 2013

Some of the children killed by the Assad regime’s CW attack on Aug. 21, 2013

Can it really be twelve whole months since Bashar al-Assad gassed to death more than 1,400 people in a morning? I happened to be in London when the attack on the Damascus suburbs of Ghouta took place, exactly a year ago. London has become (in)famous recently for mass-protests that throw around the word “genocide“—against Israel’s (in my view ill-thought out) recent response to HAMAS’ rocket fire. London had no time for Syria’s grief: Continue reading

Syria’s Forty Months Of Carnage And The Lessons Of Bosnia

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on July 15, 2014

A picture I took of Stari Most (Old Bridge) in Mostar, Bosnia, August 2011

A picture I took of Stari Most (Old Bridge) in Mostar, Bosnia, August 2011

Since the Syrian uprising began on March 15, 2011, there have been persistent echoes of Bosnia. There are some critics of the liberal interventionism specifically on the grounds that their worldview is so heavily coloured by Bosnia—and they make some valid points—but the analogy has been inescapable in Syria.
Continue reading

Nouri al-Maliki Is Pushing Iraq Into The Abyss

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on June 10, 2014

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki

Whatever one thinks about the decision in 2003 to finish the war Saddam Hussein started by annexing Kuwait, serious people should be able to agree that the way the country was abandoned by the United States—first politically after 2009 and then militarily—was deeply irresponsible, not least because of the motives of this decision. Continue reading

Obama Doubles-Down On His Foreign Policy At West Point

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on May 28, 2014

President Obama Delivers Commencement Address At West Point

It was to be expected that this would be a bad speech. Attacked from all sides President Barack Obama was going to have to push back and that was always going to make the speech defensive. As usual, the President ploughed bravely into a battalion of straw men: positing extremes then selecting a cool middle way. But it was so much worse than that. The tone was not the problem; the content was. Continue reading