U.S. Policy and the Fall of Aleppo

(Washington Post) Leon Wieseltier - During the past eight years the values of rescue, assistance, protection, humanitarianism and democracy have been demoted in America's foreign policy and in many instances banished altogether. The Obama legacy in foreign policy is vacuum-creation. Between action and inaction, the administration chose inconsequential action. We backed moderate Syrian rebels, but not as seriously or as generously as the immoderate Syrian rebels were backed. I suspect that the president believes that the U.S. has no moral right to affect an outcome in another country. I suspect that he regards such decisive action as imperialism. What this means in practice is that we will not help people who deserve our help. In the spirit of respecting other societies, we will idly gaze at their destruction. How would disrespecting them be worse? As a direct or indirect consequence of our refusal to respond forcefully to the Syrian crisis, we have beheld genocide, chemical warfare, barrel bombs, the displacement of 11 million people, the destabilization of Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan, the ascendancy of Iran in the region, the emergence of Russia as a global power, the diminishment of the American position in the world, the refugee crisis in Europe, and a significant new threat to the security of the U.S. It is amazing how much doing nothing can do. The writer is the Isaiah Berlin senior fellow in culture and policy at the Brookings Institution.

2016-12-20 00:00:00

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