MSNBC host Andrea Mitchell criticized Obama's slipping grip on the Middle East on Friday, saying that the United States "looks very weak."
"Frankly, the United States looks very weak diplomatically, and you need military muscle to back up the diplomacy," she said.
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Mitchell said that countries like Russia, Iran, and Jordan are filling the power vacuum left by the reluctance of the United States.
"Now you've got Iran at the table, Russia pushing this and claiming that they are in the lead here. You have Jordan, one of our lead partners against ISIS, having a joint command center with the Russians," she said.
She referenced the ongoing multilateral talks meant to generate a diplomatic solution for the exit of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad, saying that Russia, not the United States, has taken the leading role.
"Look at those pictures again from that table in Vienna. Lavrov is at the head of the table with John Kerry," she said. "America is supposed to be leading this coalition against ISIS, and Russia is now claiming either joint leadership or primary leadership here because it is the Russian air strikes that have been a game-changer in recent weeks to prop up Assad."
In recent weeks, the Obama administration has shied away from calling the conflict in Syria "ground combat" in an attempt not to contradict Obama's 2013 statement that there will be no "boots on the ground."
After American soldier Joshua Wheeler was killed in an operation in Iraq this week, Secretary of Defense Ash Carter admitted that the U.S. would ramp up support for Syrian rebels, but again refused to call this combat.
"It doesn’t represent us assuming a combat role. It represents a continuation of our advise-and-assist mission," Carter said.
The Obama administration announced Friday that it would deploy special forces to Syria, marking another timid step toward exercising force in the Middle East.