Ambassador Holwill on Syria

Richard N. Holwill (Ambassador to Ecuador, 1988-1989; Counselor to the US Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, 1990-1993)

Cross-posted from Ambassador Holwill’s September 22, 2013 Letter to the Editor published in The Washington Post.


Regarding David Ignatius’s Sept. 19 op-ed column, “Obama’s uncredited win”:

President Obama failed a basic test of leadership. He did not get Congress, commentators or the public to follow his lead. This failure was driven by the fact that he did not identify or articulate the critical U.S. interest at stake with regard to chemical weapons in Syria. That interest is quite clear: Al-Qaeda cannot be allowed to capture chemical weapons from Syrian forces. In this regard, we have a common interest with the Russians. They cannot allow chemical weapons to fall into the hands of a group that could transfer them to Chechens.

Had Mr. Obama stated this as his goal from the outset, he could have gained needed political support. He might also have gained Russian support without creating the impression that he now “owes them one.”


Tags: , , , , , , , , ,