By Erick San Juan
The recent breathtaking decision to attack Syria with or without congressional authorization has left the rest of the world at the edge of their seats like watching a suspense thriller. And at the G20 meeting, US President Barack Obama has stubbornly pressed on the decision to push through with the military attack on Syria amidst the opposition of powerful countries like China and Russia among others.
With these developments, a lot has raised their eyebrows and asked, why the hell did he receive the Nobel Peace Prize for? Just like what he said, he is unworthy of the award, duh? So much for the rhetoric, nations in the Asia-Pacific region where the mighty big brother promised to re-balance its resources in these countries, not just militarily (but also in economic undertakings like the much-hyped Trans-Pacific Partnership program), are now wondering. With the crisis in Syria, how could the Obama balance its act between the two sides of Asia? To think, the much-hyped US pivot to Asia-Pacific has created more tension than finding peaceful resolution to the disputed areas in the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea). Asean now should rethink its position with Washington whose hands are already full with crisis after crisis in the Middle East plus some ‘unfinished business.’
Like what Michael Auslin (a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington and columnist at the Wall Street Journal) wrote “while the Administration was claiming a new era in U.S. foreign policy, the ghosts of crises past continue to disturb Mr. Obama's dreams. Renewed violence in Iraq and the complexities of not losing all gains in Afghanistan after the withdrawal of U.S. troops in 2014 were perhaps highest on the list of unfinished business. Yet more concerning were the brewing crises: Iran's continued pursuit of nuclear weapons and the bloody Syrian civil war.” (Obama Pivots to Syria From Asia, WSJ online)
What will happen now to the US pivot to Asia-Pacific?
Auslin further explained that – “The real world intrusions of failing U.S. diplomacy spell trouble for Mr. Obama's pivot in two crucial ways. First, as the decade-plus of war on terror showed, even a U.S. military with massive war funding needed to pull in troops and materiel from all around the globe. For years, U.S. commanders and senior leaders of Pacific Command had to send sailors and airmen to the Middle East, along with ships and planes. Privately, they would talk about how difficult that made keeping up their own missions after several years.”
And, “second, Mr. Obama is fond of saying that his pivot to Asia is not about containing China; he wants to use it, so he says, to help create better relations with Beijing. Well, the Chinese leadership has been unhappy about the rebalance from the beginning, seeing it precisely as a way to encircle China with new U.S. partnerships. The fact that Mr. Obama is now at odds with China over Syria gives the impression that the Chinese were right all along—China is increasingly at odds with America's strategic goals.”
By focusing much on Syria, obviously Obama has forgotten his so-called commitment to the countries in the region and created another reason to be at odds with both Russia and China.
The Syrian card has pushed the limits of Washington now that his so divided attention are scattered and actually fighting so many fronts. The American foreign policy now in question as how to handle both allies and competitors alike in fulfilling its commitments.
On top of all these, the US military attack in Syria will only show that the Americans never learn from history, the recent past has shown their failures in Iraq and Afghanistan so why repeat the same policy? And the overstretched global war on terror? It is so overstretched that this final pull in the Syrian crisis might be the last, because when it snaps a global war will surely erupts, whether we like it or not.