Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Crises Cascade and Converge, Testing Obama

A mosque in Rafah, in the Gaza Strip. As President Obama tries to corral Europeans on Russia, he must manage discontent over Israel’s ground invasion of Gaza. Credit Sergey Ponomarev for The New York Times

By PETER BAKER, NYT
JULY 22, 2014

WASHINGTON — Not long after a passenger jet exploded in midair and plummeted to the ground in Ukraine last week, escalating a volatile crisis pitting the United States and Europe against Russia, President Obama’s thoughts turned to Syria.

The Malaysia Airlines flight seemed to have been shot down by a sophisticated Russian antiaircraft system provided to insurgents who mistook the airliner for a military transport. In a conversation with aides, the president said this was why he refused to send antiaircraft weapons to Syrian rebels. Once they are out of a government’s control, he said, the risk only grows.

Rarely has a president been confronted with so many seemingly disparate foreign policy crises all at once — in Ukraine, Israel, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere — but making the current upheaval more complicated for Mr. Obama is the seemingly interlocking nature of them all. Developments in one area, like Ukraine, shape his views and choices in a crisis in another area, like the Middle East.

The crosscurrents can be dizzying. Even as Mr. Obama presses Russia to stop fomenting a virtual civil war in Ukraine, he is trying to collaborate with Moscow in a diplomatic campaign to force Iran to scale back its nuclear program. Even as he pressures Iran over its nuclear program, he finds himself on the same side as Tehran in combating a rising Sunni insurgency in Iraq. Even as he sends special forces to help squelch those insurgents, he is trying to help their putative allies against the government in Syria next door.

(More here.)

1 Comments:

Blogger Tom Koch said...

I always wondered what "Leading from behind" really meant. Now I know.

12:44 PM  

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