While Donald Trump takes to Twitter to attack Vanity Fair for giving one of his restaurants a bad review, and President Obama has another day with no scheduled events on his calendar, a tragedy of unimagined proportions is taking place in a city on the other side of the world.
We laughed at Gary Johnson during the election when he couldn’t answer a question about Aleppo. “What’s Aleppo?” he asked. But many of us, myself included, are equally and willfully ignorant about the horrendous events occurring in this city. About two years ago, a Facebook friend of mine in the Middle East posted a site called “Syrian Children Not Bleed Oil.” To my eternal shame, I blocked pictures from this site showing up on my Facebook page. It was just too hard to look at the sight of innocent children bleeding and dying in the streets of Syria.
The situation in Syria has become so incredibly bad that millions, that’s right, millions of Syrians have risked death in makeshift boats to escape their homeland. Trump’s response was that we would only accept refugees who had been “carefully vetted.” Obama made noises about taking in a certain number of refugees, more than Trump wanted, but not really enough to make a difference.
Instead of squabbling about how many refugees should be admitted, and under what circumstances, our government should have been taking actions so that Syrians did not need to flee their own country. The government of President Obama. We are all familiar with his famous “red line in the sand” where he said the United States would intervene if Assad used chemical weapons against his own citizens. He did. Obama did nothing.
When Putin sent his military forces into Syria, supposedly to fight against ISIS, the United States could have enforced a “no-fly zone” over the areas controlled by the rebels against the Assad regime. Obama did nothing, and Russian planes attacked the rebels with impunity.
Putin is now firmly ensconced in Syria. Trump, who has clearly shown that he is Putin’s puppet, will not do anything to change this situation when he becomes President. There is no “deal” he can make to save the innocent women and children who are being slaughtered on the streets of Aleppo. Today. Right now.
President Obama made it clear that he wanted his deal to limit nuclear weapons with Iran to be the great legacy of his administration. Russia and Iran are now allies. While John Kerry has frantically tried to broker a cease-fire in Syria, Russia, and Iran, along with their new best friend Bashar Assad, have blithely ignored these futile attempts.
President Obama, you have now been the longest serving President who presided over America at war. History will ask why you were not able to achieve peace like Presidents before you. Peace is never achieved by caving to our enemies or even negotiating with them. Henry Kissinger’s famous Paris Peace Accords with North Vietnam ended with the total assimilation of South Vietnam. A war where over 50,000 American soldiers gave their lives to prevent this happening. Peace is achieved when America stands up and says “We will not let this pass.” In the words of George W. Bush “We will bring our enemies to justice, or justice to our enemies.”
Neville Chamberlain also tried to keep his country out of war. He, too, was well meaning in his attempts to achieve “peace in our time.” No one doubted his sincerity. Mr. Obama, I do not doubt your sincerity. Unfortunately, we do not have another Winston Churchill waiting in the wings willing to stand up to tyranny. There is no Ronald Reagan willing to say “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.”
President Obama, your legacy will not be a dubious nuclear deal with Iran. Your legacy will be the pictures of dead children and infants being dug out from the rubble of streets in cities like Aleppo. Your legacy will be a President who failed to protect the innocents. Aleppo, not Iran, will be your legacy, and may God have mercy on your soul.