For those who don't recognize the name, Max Hastings is a British author who co-authored one of the best books on the Falklands War and another on the Korean War. Most of the American media has been criticizing President Obama for his failure in garnering the support for missile strikes in Syria. The article by Max Hastings points out that this stems from Obama's original hard-line policy two years that lead to the now infamous statement that any use of chemical weapons by Assad would represent a "red line".
Two things should have happened and did not. First, someone should have explained to the media what that meant or at least deflated the rhetoric. Second, no diplomatic actions were planned to avoid a red line incident. Hastings says these two events allowed Russian President Vladmir Putin to outmaneuver President Obama with his proposal of allowing Syrian chemical weapons to fall under international control. I disagree, Putin out maneuvered a clumsy Secretary of State. Secretary Kerry decided to be a "hawk" regarding Syria instead of being a diplomat. His ego lead him to push Congress to a vote that he should have realized made no sense coming from the State Department, especially he could not point to failed diplomatic actions that left the US with no recourse. He had taken no actions and immediately went for the military option.
Putin's move has struck down the credibility of the Obama Administration and the United States when it comes to foreign policy. It showed the world a President who is tentative in his foreign policy decisions and a public that is weary of war. To the Muslim world, it also shows the hypocrisy of US foreign policy. The US invaded Iraq and waged a ware that killed tens of thousands of Iraqis, destroyed their infrastructure, and has left Iraq now in a perpetual state of chaos. The development and prolific use of drones has made US military actions autonomous. Push-button killing, without risk to ones own forces, takes away some moral authority when one wants to condemn another country for killing en masse.
I do not want the US to take military action in Syria. However, to see a US President fumble and his head diplomat look like a fool is not desirable either. In the middle of all of this, Syria remains embroiled in a civil war and her people are still dying.
MAX HASTINGS: The humiliation of Obama as Putin swaggers on his Moscow