The Syrian-refugee debate has become a national embarrassment. It begins with a president, desperate to deflect attention from the collapse of his foreign policy, retreating to his one safe zone — ad hominem attacks on critics, this time for lack of compassion toward Syrian widows and orphans.
This, without a glimmer of acknowledgment of his own responsibility for these unfortunate souls becoming widowed and orphaned, displaced and homeless, in the first place. A quarter-million deaths ago, when Bashar al-Assad began making war on his own people, he unleashed his air force and helicopters. They dropped high explosives, nail-filled barrel bombs, and even chemical weapons on helpless civilians. President Obama lifted not a finger. In the earliest days, we could have stopped the slaughter: cratered Assad’s airfields, taken out his planes, grounded his helicopters, and created a nationwide no-fly zone. (We successfully maintained one over Kurdistan for twelve years between 1991 and 2003.)
At the time, Assad was teetering. His national-security headquarters had been penetrated and bombed. High-level aides were defecting. Military officers were forming a Free Syrian Army. Against the advice of his top civilian and military aides, Obama refused to intervene. The widows and orphans he now so ostentatiously champions are the product of his coldhearted refusal to do anything that might sully his peacemaking image.
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