Three years ago Barack Obama gave a very direct warning to Syrian President Bashir al-Assad to cease and desist using chemical weapons. Diplomatic and military wonks across the board agreed the same warning was also indirectly aimed directly at Assad’s patron in Moscow. To accentuate just how much he really meant it this time, the Commander-in-Chief of the American Armed Forces actually uttered the unmistakable words: Red line.
That was three years and a couple hundred thousand dead people ago. Bashir al-Assad is still in power and he still has and uses his Russian supplied chemical weapons. The Russian President not only ignored Obama’s red line, he’s now sending ground combat troops into Syria. But as reported by Julie Pace of the Associated Press via KAAL-TV (of Rochester, Minn.) on Set. 12, 2015, and also by Richard Sisk of Military.com on Sept. 11, 2015, Obama is threatening Vladimir Putin, yet again, with quite the stern warning.
Speaking before a town hall-style meeting with members of the military at Ft. Mead, Maryland, Obama wagged his proverbial finger in Putin’s direction by stating, “The strategy they’re pursuing right now of doubling down on Assad is a mistake. It could prevent us from arriving at the political solution that’s ultimately needed to bring a peace back to Syria.” Obama said he repeatedly tried to tell Putin that he was making a mistake “but he did not take my warnings.”
While the American military continues to shrink, personnel see pay cuts, and equipment falling into a state of disrepair under the leadership of Obama, he did make a prediction of the Russian foray into the Middle East, “You can’t continue to double down on a strategy that is doomed to failure.” Presumable falling back on his own questionable history of foreign policy matters, the former community organizer informed the assembled soldiers and DoD civilians, “That’s where the Russians are going to have to get a little smarter.”
In the meantime, Moscow denies it’s trying to prop up Assad’s regime and instead says its increased military activity is part of the international effort to defeat ISIS. Earlier Friday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov called on world powers to join Russia in destroying ISIS up close and personal.
Seen as a swipe at Obama, Lavrov dryly added, “You cannot defeat Islamic State with air strikes only. It’s necessary to cooperate with ground troops and the Syrian army is the most efficient and powerful ground force to fight the IS.”
With numerous sources cited here and here, the Russians have already landed a small contingent of Naval Infantry (Marines) as well as an undisclosed number of MiG 31 Ground Attack aircraft in Syria. Two more brigades of Russian Marines are expected soon, and as previously reported, a mixed contingent of Iranian Marines and Revolutionary Guards forces have also arrived in-country for ground combat operations with the Russians.
And it isn’t just ground/air components the Russians and their allies have in the region. The size of a World War I battleship, the submarine Dmitri Donskoy (TK-208), complete with her compliment of troop killing cruise missiles, is steaming off the Syrian coast. Not alone, China’s 20th Escort Taskforce, consisting of the guided-missile destroyer Ji’nan, guided-missile frigate Yiyang and comprehensive supply ship Qiandaohu have just completed joint naval exercises in the Mediterranean with the once-American allied Egyptian Armed Forces.
Yet the latest warning put forth by Obama and his administration isn’t quite the first. As Dave Boyer of the Washington Times penned on Aug. 25, 2015, “From allowing Iran to keep enriching uranium to abandoning ‘anywhere, anytime’ inspections of Tehran’s nuclear facilities, the Obama administration has crossed many of its own red lines in the nuclear deal that will lift tough economic sanctions on America’s longtime adversary.”
Boyer also quoted Michael Rubin, a security specialist at the American Enterprise Institute who plainly said, “To be conservative, I’d say at least a dozen red lines have been crossed. John Kerry is about as credible as Baghdad Bob and probably no more interested in the predominance of American security.”
Obama does have quite a record to warning his Russian counterpart:
- June 8, 2015 – Obama warned Putin that “additional steps” could be taken if Russia were to “double down” on behavior in Ukraine.
- Feb. 10, 2015 – Obama warned Putin that “the costs for Russia will rise” if violence in the Ukraine persists.
- Jan. 25, 2015 – Obama warned Putin that he “may face further repercussions” after a rocket attack crushed the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol.
- May 2, 2014 – Obama warned Putin of “sectoral sanctions” unless he reverses course in Ukraine.
- Nov. 10, 2014 – Obama warned Putin to “strictly adhere to the cease-fire” amid Russia’s heaviest shelling to date in their invasion of the Ukraine.