April 10, 2017

Why Obama Avoided Military Intervention In Syria

By Ilan Goldenberg

Source: The Huffington Post

Journalist(s) Jessica Schulberg

On Thursday night, President Donald Trump authorized the military to launch several dozen cruise missiles from the Mediterranean Sea at a Syrian airfield. The strike was meant to punish Syria’s President Bashar Assad for allegedly using chemical weapons to attack his own citizens.

It was a dramatic reversal, not only from Trump’s own pledges to limit U.S. involvement in Syria but from his predecessor, who for years resisted growing calls to intervene militarily against the Assad regime. President Barack Obama’s decision to refrain from engagement in 2013 was criticized as feckless at the time and is cited now as one of the reasons that Trump was forced to act. But a revisiting of the arguments and calculations that led Obama to make his decision ― from the fear that it would not be a deterrent to the concerns over how the U.S. would respond to future attacks on civilians ― provides an important blueprint for the major hurdles that Trump will now have to confront.

Even if the Assad regime stops using chemical weapons, it will continue to pummel civilians with barrel bombs, predicted Ilan Goldenberg, a former State Department official during the Obama administration. “You’ll see many more pictures of ‘beautiful [Syrian] babies’ [dying] on TV ― specifically to humiliate the United States and show the fecklessness of military action,” he said.

Read the full article at The Huffington Post.

  • Ilan Goldenberg

    Senior Fellow and Director, Middle East Security Program

    Ilan Goldenberg is Senior Fellow and Director of the Middle East Security Program at the Center for a New American Security. He is a foreign policy and defense expert with ext...