Like it or not, the U.S. must lead in this dangerous, conflicted world. One big misstep by our president could take the world to disaster, beyond repair for long time to come. President Barack Obama’s Syria debacle (due to inability to carry out a decisive, punitive action for crossing the “red line” by Bashar al-Assad) emboldened Vladimir Putin to make aggressive moves against Ukraine without any concern. Putin knew Obama is not Truman and will not respond by force.

For the same reason, Putin dared to launch air strikes against the U.S.-supported Syrian rebels without concern for U.S. reaction. Had Obama declared Syria a no-fly zone, Putin would not have the opportunity to do so. Unfortunately, Obama was so preoccupied with the Iran Nuke Deal for his legacy that he didn’t even see this was coming.

Ironically, Putin was equally eager to see the Iran nuclear deal quickly completed for Iran’s future. In order to avoid jeopardizing the negotiation, Putin put his long-planned military intervention in Syria’s civil war on hold till after the nuke deal was done. Putin lost no time to launch his direct military intervention in the Syrian civil war to pump up the Assad regime, which was on life-support. Putin knew what he was doing, but our president was caught by surprise and didn’t even know how to deal with it, especially after he just had a long summit meeting with Putin at the U.N. No question, this was “in your face,” and we were at the losing end of diplomacy.

Putin knew the Iran nuclear deal is very important for both Iran and Russia economically, as well as militarily, but for the West, only the fools would think it is a good deal and trust Iran, the largest sponsor and supporter of terrorists in the world, not to cheat in its nuclear program and trust Russia not to sell Iran the powerful and dangerous offensive weapons.

No question, Russia’s military presence in Syria has compounded problems in the Middle East and complicated the dangerous situation in Syria. Russia’s indiscriminate bombing has killed many innocent Syrian people and created more poor refugees for the West.

Now, with Iran to get all that money from U.S. through the nuke deal to end the economic sanctions, it will have plenty of money to do mischief in the Middle East. It will arm more Hezbollah fighters to undermine Lebanon, to make Yemen a staging ground against Saudi Arabia. It will arm more Hamas fighters to keep up the terrorist war to consume Israel, to wear down her military and her people’s morale and eventually bring her to ruin without nuclear bombs. You wonder why the Israeli government was so against the Iran nuke deal?

In short, Putin has taken advantage of Obama’s naive good nature of trusting him for better relations in the very beginning of the Obama administration. Who could forget then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s silly gesture in the “reset” ceremony in Moscow?

Chris Hsu

retired state employee

Baton Rouge