by Lee Smith
July 02, 2014
Nearly three years after President Barack Obama “demanded” that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad step aside, Assad is still in power and Syria is torn by civil war. Yet Obama’s critics may have missed the point. Far from lacking a strategy in the Middle East, the President may have taken a long view of the region that involves drawing down support for America’s traditionally Sunni allies and balancing them against Shi’a counterforces in Iran and Syria. If the gambit pays off, it will entail a historical reconsideration of our foreign policy establishment’s conventional wisdom. The oil-rich Middle East and America’s long-standing allies there will turn out to have been less important than US policymakers had come to believe over the last half-century. But if the President is wrong, then failure to stop Assad will mean the unraveling of American prominence in the Middle East, while Iran extends its reach across the Levant.