Former Administration Official: Obama Acting ‘Impotent’ In Face of Putin Syrian Intervention

Vladimir Putin, Barack Obama
October 13, 2015

A former Obama administration official who worked on foreign policy said that the president is causing the U.S. to act as if it is "totally impotent" in the face of Vladimir Putin’s military intervention in Syria.

"The optics are that we’re backing off. It’s not like we can’t exert pressure on these guys, but we act like we’re totally impotent," the former administration official said, according to Politico

Indeed, multiple current and former players in the Obama administration have expressed opposition to the president’s reluctance to respond to the Syrian civil war or Moscow’s military buildup there that has worked to the benefit of President Bashar al-Assad.

Obama’s senior national security officials, including Secretary of State John Kerry, Defense Secretary Ash Carter, and CIA Director John Brennan, have reportedly called for a stronger response to Putin’s military intervention in Syria in closed-door meetings, but the president has directed no such action.

Moreover, the president’s hesitance to act has also turned off multiple Russia specialists in his administration, including Evelyn Farkas, the top Pentagon official overseeing military relations with Russia and Ukraine.

Farkas recently announced her resignation, which will come at the end of October, as the administration continued to debate whether to give Ukraine lethal aid to thwart Putin’s aggression there.

Putin’s intervention in Syria has somewhat echoed that in Ukraine. In addition to launching airstrikes in Syria and firing cruise missiles into the country from Russian ships in the Caspian Sea, Moscow claims to have put "volunteer" forces on the ground in Syria.

While Putin’s government has insisted that its military action is meant to combat the Islamic State (IS, also known as ISIL or ISIS), many airstrikes have not been launched in areas controlled by IS and have instead appeared to target CIA-backed Syrian rebels fighting Assad.

U.S. officials have said that Russia is intentionally targeted U.S.-backed rebels as a challenge to Obama’s policy in Syria.