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Obama’s Strategic Shift

2015-05-23 02:36

President Obama has belatedly detected the looming catastrophe in Syria and Iraq as Sunni terrorists gain ground. He also grasps the need for Russian and Iranian help. But his administration remains infested with neocons and liberal war hawks who could sabotage the needed deals, reports Robert Parry.

By Robert Parry

It’s finally dawning on President Barack Obama the grave dangers that have been created for the American Republic by decades of neoconservative dominance of U.S. foreign policy, but his moves in response to this dire threat remain hesitant and indecisive.

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The only game-saving play open to Obama now – in response to recent Saudi-backed escalation of Sunni extremism in Syria and Iraq as well the new right-wing racist government in Israel – may be to forge an alliance with Iran and Russia as a counterforce in the Middle East that could save Syria’s relatively secular regime and reverse gains by the Islamic State inside Iraq.

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That, however, would require Obama finally taking control of his foreign policy and throwing out or at least sidelining many of the neocons and “liberal interventionists” whom he has tolerated and promoted. It’s difficult to see how the likes of Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland and Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power would fall in line behind the necessary moves to build such a pragmatic alliance.

Power has been a top advocate for “regime change” in Syria, wanting to wage an air war against the government of Bashar al-Assad even if destroying his military would risk opening the gates of Damascus to the Islamic State and/or al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front. Power has promoted some of the most extreme and dubious propaganda against Assad, such as blaming him for the mysterious sarin gas attack outside Damascus on Aug. 21, 2013.

Despite serious doubts that Assad’s regime had anything to do with the attack, Power – along with other “liberal interventionists” and neocons – pumped for U.S. military retaliation that would have devastated Assad’s army, which has been the only significant obstacle to victory by Sunni extremists. Power, a foreign policy adviser to Obama since the 2008 campaign, remains an anti-Assad hardliner.

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