While world leaders convene in New York for the opening of the United Nations General Assembly, Syrians besieged by five years of civil war will have to wait longer for some humanitarian aid to arrive.
Aid shipments resumed Wednesday following Monday’s apparent air strike on a United Nations convoy, killing 20 civilians. “Just when we think it cannot get any worse, the bar of depravity sinks lower,” said U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
A ceasefire brokered by the United States and Russia allowed the convoy to start its dangerous trek from the Turkish border to Aleppo.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and other diplomats say the ceasefire is not dead yet and the U.N. Security Council will take up Syria on Wednesday.
After an accidental airstrike that killed about 60 Syrian or Syrian-allied soldiers, does the United States have any leverage left to revive the ceasefire, get aid to those who need it and continue the battle against Islamic State?
Decision Time for President Obama on Syria
Paul J. Saunders – The National Interest
U.S. airstrikes that apparently killed at least sixty Syrian government soldiers, and which Washington now acknowledges, make the latest tenuous effort at a ceasefire/humanitarian access arrangement much more difficult to implement.
First, the strikes further poison an already profoundly mistrustful relationship between the United States and Russia, two essential participants in any settlement…
This is, of course, the fundamental decision that President Obama faces—to work with Russia or not. So far, like in so many earlier decisions in Syria (and, for that matter, in U.S. policy in Libya and in Ukraine), Mr. Obama seems to be trying to have it both ways, getting what he can without exposing himself too much.
Putin’s Lesson for Obama in Syria
Jackson Diehl – The Washington Post
Since 2012, Obama has been stubbornly arguing that there is no workable option for even a limited U.S. intervention in Syria’s civil war. John F. Kerry, Hillary Clinton, David Petraeus and Leon E. Panetta, among others, pushed the president to use U.S. air power or stepped-up support for rebels to tilt the balance of the war against the regime of Bashar al-Assad, thereby making possible a political settlement favorable to the United States and its allies.
Obama repeatedly refused. There was no way to get involved, he said, without starting the U.S. military down a slippery slope that would lead to another quagmire, like Iraq or Afghanistan. Anyway, he said, U.S. intervention would only worsen the war, encourage extremism and exacerbate the humanitarian crisis.
All those bad things happened in the absence of American action. And now Putin has proved that the concept Obama rejected — that a limited use of force could change the political outcome, without large costs — was right all along.
Notes from the Chairman
A Conversation with Martin Dempsey – Foreign Affairs
Q: Bob Gates famously said, a few years ago, “In my opinion, any future defense secretary who advises the president to again send a big American land army into Asia or into the Middle East or Africa should have his head examined.” Do you agree?
A: [I]t seems to me to be counterproductive to introduce a large U.S. presence in response to the persistent instability in the Middle East that generates terrorism, for two reasons. First, upon seeing our introduction of a large force, those in the region who should be dealing with the problem would immediately step back and allow us to deal with it and provide very little help. Second, we’ve got to make sure that we can sustain our military power in order to be able to credibly deter potential threats from state actors—Russia, China, North Korea, Iran.
So in dealing with general instability in the Middle East, we shouldn’t take ownership of it, but we should recognize that we have interests and partners there. We should maintain a few platforms from which we can conduct our own military operations in the region if necessary, from which we can train and equip host-nation forces, but recognize that the locals have to do most of the heavy lifting. You have to be dynamic enough to turn that up on occasion and dial it back on occasion. We’re really good at dialing things up, not so good at dialing them down.