When even Mike Barnicle admits that Obama’s inaction on Syria was a “serious mistake”
Surprising consensus on today’s Morning Joe that Barack Obama blew it bigly in Syria by punting on his redline. Even Obama fan Mike Barnicle admitted, “Syria was a serious mistake that the Obama administration made.” Foreign policy honcho Richard Haass said “history’s going to be rough on this. This is going to be the defining moment for the Obama presidency.”
It wasn’t just the panel that trashed Obama’s mishandling of Syria. Joe Scarborough noted that not only did leading Dems like John Kerry and Hillary quickly come out in support of Trump’s strikes, but that Dems were saying things that were “almost disloyal to Barack Obama, saying we could have never moved this quickly.”
Note: Joe and Haass painted a picture of a President Obama who shut out most of his senior foreign policy advisors, relying instead on the likes of Ben Rhodes.
RICHARD HAASS: The Democratic response was in some ways more interesting than the Republican response to the use of force against Syria. All these people essentially who worked for President Obama distancing themselves from their former boss.
JOE SCARBOROUGH: From President Obama.
HAASS: Yeah. Exactly. You are beginning to see things. I think the next big thing —
JOE: Can you tell me quickly. Becasue that was so fast. John Kerry came out immediately in support of what Donald Trump did.
HAASS: Hillary Clinton.
JOE: Yeah, Hillary Clinton did. You had other people saying some things that were almost disloyal to Barack Obama, saying we could have never moved this quickly. He would have never moved. Why were they doing that? Why did they all come out in force and do that?
HAASS: Well, there was a lot of frustration. There was a sense that the Obama presidency was a bit of paralysis by analysis. And in some ways, it was such a tight center. It was the president, Ben Rhodes and a few others who then afterwards tried to make the case that what they did was a solution to the chemical problem in Syria when everybody knows it wasn’t.
History’s going to be rough on this. This is going to be the defining moment for the Obama presidency. And what is so interesting about it, it’s going to be a moment of inaction. And it proves the point that what you don’t do can matter every bit as much what you do, when you govern. And I think all these people, one, disagreed at the time, and they’re probably thinking about their futures but essentially it showed also that President Obama was something of a departure from the Democratic foreign policy national security mainstream, which are tougher.
JOE: And Mike, we can say this now that they are out of office. We had people close to John Kerry, people close to Joe Biden, people close to a lot of the foreign policy leaders extraordinarily frustrated and expressing the frustration of those principals: of John Kerry, of Joe Biden, of all the president’s men and women. And I think even Susan Rice, who wanted to respond to the first chemical weapon attack.
MIKE BARNICLE: Yeah. Look, I’m a huge fan of thoughtfulness in presidencies. And President Obama was quite thoughtful about everything. Syria was a serious mistake that the Obama administration made, in retrospect.