MK Bhadrakumar’s report on Putin and Obama’s meeting at the UN nicely complements your observations on Putin and the Middle East. Again, Asia Times is presenting a perspective not seen in the American mainstream, which is sad because the American public needs to be better informed.

To any objective observer, Putin made a lot more sense than Obama did in their contrasting speech about Syria. IS is a metastasizing cancer that require immediate therapy and treatment will take a broad coalition of countries with vested interests in eradicating the tumor. As you indicated such a coalition will include awkward bedfellows, in particular the U.S. along with Russia and China.

Obama seems to be insisting that Assad has to be removed concurrently, maybe even before surgical removal of IS. Perhaps he has to maintain this public position for the sake of home audience but this position is increasingly not tenable. To continue the metaphor, Assad is a boil that can be lanced, orders of magnitude easier than getting rid of fast spreading tumor.

We should have learned from very recent experience in Iraq and Libya that taking out the bad guy we don’t like is relatively easy. Dealing with the aftermath is not easy; IS is just such a direct aftermath.

We apparently did learn a lesson from Iraq but the resulting solution in how we dealt with Syria can’t be reassuring. The Obama Administration spent some $500 million to train a fighting force out of Assad’s moderate opposition. We now have a platoon of 9 fighters to show for the effort and most the American weapons have been “donated” to IS by trained but defecting moderates.

Yes, realism and pragmatism need to trump idealism. So far not enough is happening.

George Koo

George Koo retired from a global advisory services firm where he advised clients on their China strategies and business operations. Educated at MIT, Stevens Institute and Santa Clara University, he is the founder and former managing director of International Strategic Alliances. He is currently a board member of Freschfield's, a novel green building platform.

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