When President Donald Trump said earlier this week that he “inherited a mess” from Barack Obama, the mainstream media had everyone working overtime at the outrage factory trying to pump out enough invective to make the former president look like the saint they’re sure he is.
The (failing) New York Times called it “an extraordinarily raw and angry defense” of his administration. Politifact, that wonderful font of tons political opinions and considerably fewer objective facts, ran a series of charts explaining that Obama made the country great and why won’t you plebes just understand how awesome he was? And those were two of the fairer articles.
On Thursday, it came out that despite the Obama administration’s insistence that Syria’s BasharAssad had done away with his chemical weapons, an internal Pentagon memo said that the country had produced and warehoused a “ridiculously huge amount” of sarin gas, the nerve agent suspected in this week’s gas attack in Idlib province.
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Yes, so about that mess Obama totally didn’t leave for Donald Trump…
According to the Washington Times, a series of documents obtained from the Defense Threat Reduction Agency shows that while the administration was claiming it had destroyed Syria’s ability to produce chemical weapons, the Assad regime had enough to make a large amount of sarin gas, some of which may have been saved.
In the summer of 2014, as part of a deal brokered with Assad and Russia, the United States destroyed what was thought to be the entirety of Syria’s chemical weapons manufacturing capabilities. This includes, the Washington Times reports, “600 metric tons of Syrian chemicals, most of which, 580 metric tons, was sarin precursor DF,’ or methylphosphonic difluoride. DF is mixed with other components to activate a binary bomb.”
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In one document, a Pentagon official said that, “The short answer is that Syria could have used that DF to make a RIDICULOUSLY HUGE amount of sarin.”
“The truth is that ‘we’ can’t be sure what actually happened at the site of the attack,” James Russell, a professor at the Naval Postgraduate School, told the Washington Times.
“It seems likely, however, that Assad did not honor the commitments to give up all Syria’s chemical weapons in the deal brokered by Russia. Like Saddam before him, Assad might have thought it important to have these weapons to use on his internal opponents when the situation warranted.”
The deal, it is worth pointing out, was done in lieu of airstrikes after Assad crossed the Obama administration’s “red line” of chemical weapons usage in August of 2013. Looks like it turned out to be a great deal.
The Obama administration’s strategy to deal with the Syrian civil war was an abject disaster. First backing a sundry group of rebels which contained extremist organizations like the Islamic State group, the administration then realized that letting a gang of Bronze Age hoodlums establish a caliphate across a wide swath of Western Asia wasn’t a particularly keen idea.
The administration then sank into a policy of limited engagement, meant to accomplish aims that were vague at best. This didn’t even contain the Islamic State group, and the real heavy lifting was done by actors who didn’t have our best interest in mind.
True, you might have been able to say, but at least the Obama administration had eliminated Assad’s ability to engage in chemical warfare against his own people. We found out this week even that meager accomplishment was illusory.
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Yes, Mr. Obama. You did leave a mess. Not just in Syria, but that’s where it killed at least 86 innocent people this week, and drew a real response from the new administration. Let’s pray that the fullness of your wretched equivocation can somehow be avoided.
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