Obama Blames Republicans, Hillary for Failure in Syria

Never liked the idea of training Syrians in the first place...

In a damning piece on the "abysmal failure" of President Obama's attempt at training Syrians to combat ISIS, the New York Times highlights that not only is the president, in his typical fashion, blaming Republicans, he's also blaming former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

After the military admitted to a Senate panel Wednesday that, stunningly, only 4 or 5 U.S.-trained Syrian individual fighters remain to combat the Islamic State, the Obama administration has been doing its best to redirect blameand as the NYT underscores, a certain Democratic presidential candidate is among those the president is pointing his finger at:

But the White House says it is not to blame. The finger, it says, should be pointed not at Mr. Obama but at those who pressed him to attempt training Syrian rebels in the first place — a group that, in addition to congressional Republicans, happened to include former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

At briefings this week after the disclosure of the paltry results, Josh Earnest, the White House press secretary, repeatedly noted that Mr. Obama always had been a skeptic of training Syrian rebels. The military was correct in concluding that “this was a more difficult endeavor than we assumed and that we need to make some changes to that program,” Mr. Earnest said. “But I think it’s also time for our critics to ‘fess up in this regard as well. They were wrong.”

In effect, Mr. Obama is arguing that he reluctantly went along with those who said it was the way to combat the Islamic State, but that he never wanted to do it and has now has been vindicated in his original judgment. The I-told-you-so argument, of course, assumes that the idea of training rebels itself was flawed and not that it was started too late and executed ineffectively, as critics maintain.

The administration's humiliating admission to the Senate Armed Services Committee Wednesday follows news last week of an investigation into complaints by 50 intelligence analysts that intelligence officials (at the direction of the Obama administration) have been deliberately distorting intelligence reports to downplay the threat of ISIS and al-Qaeda and make the U.S. campaigns in the region look more successful than they actually are.  

The "too little too late" response of President Obama stems from his defeatist perspective on the conflict in Syria, which he has consistently indicated he believes the U.S. has no ability to significantly impact. With hundreds of thousands of migrants pushing into Europe and Russia taking a more aggressive role in Syria, the president is under increasing pressure to ramp up his "campaign" in the regionbut certainly the fear of another "abysmal failure" will play into the president's political calculations.