Why Obama Failed Syria, and Trump Will Too | MIC 13 | Syria 14

Obama failed Syria, and Trump is going to fail Syria too. This video explains why. Most people will tell you that the US didn’t do enough in Syria. Actually it’s the complete opposite. We are now on our second president who doesn’t want us involved in Syria. Presidents can win elections, but they can’t beat the Military Industrial Complex.

This video is super depressing. But I’m excited that it lets me continue two of my best series, that have lain fallow for a while now. This is the 14th installment of my series on Syria, and it up-dates the story, incorporating some developments, like the disclosure and apparent end of Timber Sycamore, that I have been itching to discuss for weeks. It also returns in a big way to my Military Industrial Complex series. When I started the series over two years ago now, I had an end in mind. Still haven’t gotten there. We’ll see if I can pull it together!

If you’d like to earn my undying gratitude, please click here to support this project through Patreon. Please do reach out to us through Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, or our e-mail newsletter.

Video Transcript after the jump…

Hey there. World Media obsesses over the words and actions of US presidents. Everything they say is over-reported, and if a president wants to, like the current one, they can dominate every news cycle. But the actions of individual presidents really aren’t all that important.

Foreign policy is supposedly the arena where US presidents are freest. None of the state and local actors that constrain presidents in domestic policy apply BEYOND our borders. But even here they are constrained.


Obama and Trump supporters have different names for it but they are talking about the same thing. I call it the Metastasized Military Industrial Complex, or MIC for short. It includes the US Congress, defense contractors, journalists, think tanks and Universities. I’ve got a series of videos on the topic. All these folks want war, and they tend to get it. When a president gives the complex what it wants, as Bush did in Iraq, a president can get away with a lot.

But when a president tries to resist the interests of the Military Industrial Complex he fails.

Obama desperately wanted to avoid boots on the ground in Syria. To quiet the war-mongers in his administration he was convinced to approve a CIA funded program called Timber Sycamore. It reportedly spent billions of dollars a year arming rebels to take down Assad. This program more than anything else destroyed Syria. In January 2013, before the program really started, refugee flows to the EU were at 33,000 a month. In September 2015, right before the Russian intervention that US media blames for the refugee crisis, they stood at 367,000 a month. Our “solution” to Assad’s tin-pot dictatorship was worse than the problem. Russia’s bombing did double or triple refugee flows, but it was the initial US intervention that sent them up by a factor of 10, and convinced Putin that he had to take direct action to save his ally Assad. We destroyed Syria, under a president that didn’t want to go to war. And now we’ve got the boots on the ground that Obama tried so desperately to avoid. The Military Industrial Complex always wins.

Obama spent his presidency desperately trying to bring about peace with Iran. The more I study this, the more heroic the effort looks. He was fighting against almost four decades of Military Industrial Complex policy. Obama’s pushing of the nuclear deal was brave, but it’s also probably doomed. I’ve already covered Trump’s insane attempts to end the nuclear deal unilaterally, but the US congress is trying to kill the deal too. The recent sanctions bill against Russia included sanctions on Iran that certainly violate the spirit of the deal, if not the letter, and may end up pushing Iran to end the deal. I’m not optimistic. Obama’s attempt to resist the MIC will probably fail here as well.

As viewers of this channel know, I am not a fan of Donald Trump. But a couple weeks back he did an amazing thing. He cancelled the CIA program funding the Syrian rebels. It was the right thing to do. This program always supported Jihadists, but recently it’s gotten so bad that MIC propaganda outfits like the New York Times and Fox News have had to admit it. Trump did the right thing. But it won’t help Syria much. To put it charitably, Trump’s not so great with the details, and he’s bought the MIC line on Iran hook, line and sinker. The complex is content to move on to that bigger fish and leave Syria in ruins. We’re not physically arming the rebels any more, but the freed up billions will probably be used to prop up the shrinking areas still controlled by the rebels, guaranteeing that the war continues. Anybody who lets a couple million dollars in aid money flow to Assad is publicly shamed. Assad is a bad man, but he happens to control most of the areas in Syria where people actually live. We can’t rebuild Syria without him. The Foreign policy establishment is actively trying to discourage refugees who want to go home and rebuild their country. The broader war with Iran that Washington, DC is trying to start will probably end up being fought out in Syria as well. Trump took a positive step towards ending the War in Syria. It probably won’t make much difference.

Presidents do have real power. But when they go up against the MIC they fail.

Thanks for watching, please subscribe, and if you want to know more about the tricky problem of the Military Industrial Complex, and why it’s so powerful, I suggest you watch my playlist on the topic.

  • Nathan Ruffing

    The idea that the president is NOT all-powerful is one that I think is WAY under-represented in the media and in people’s perceptions. The forces making our world the way it is are more than one human being. Glad you hit that here.

    • Robert Morris

      The working title for this one was “Presidents are powerless” That’s a bit of an over-statement, but compared to the “God-King” status they are usually imbued with it’s closer to the truth. Presidents in time of great crisis have more power, but they usually are limited to trying to nudge our governing bureaucracies in one direction or another.