Obama leaves US weaker, while Assad, Russia grow stronger
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Time is quickly running out on the Obama administration. With just about a month to go, the president and his staff are at best on cruise control as they look to turn over power to President-elect Trump.

In the convening weeks, there will be many things written about the Obama presidency, as well as his overall legacy. With the president and his staff running out of time, there are two events in the forefront of the news cycle that will certainly have an impact on his legacy — the situation in Aleppo and the humanitarian crisis it has become; and the country’s apparent ineptitude in cyber and protection of cyber-related assets.

Like the Hamilton cast the president admires, if he asks himself “has he done enough,” unfortunately, the answer will be “no” in both cases.   

Start with Aleppo, where this is nothing short of a full-blown humanitarian crisis, and it’s been going on for months.

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The start-and-stop of cease fires to provide assistance to civilians trapped in the city have actually become reloading of ammunition exercises for the Assad government. After a bloody civil war these past 5 years, Aleppo is at its endgame as the government forces have taken all rebel held parts of the city this week.

 

Pictures of the bombed out city leaves the West wondering how is it even inhabitable at this point.

Those trying to escape, including the former rebel forces and their family members, are fleeing to a nearby province called Idlib, which is still not in government control.

What keeps this town from becoming the next Aleppo? As scores are settled in the region, we have seen opposition to the government get crushed under the air and artillery power of Assad.

If you look back, failure by the U.S. administration to both predict this outcome, as well as act fail to act and apply consequences when “red lines” were drawn have gotten the result we see playing out in front of us.

With an administration like this, with experienced people like Samantha PowerSamantha Jane PowerFive things to know about Antony Blinken, Biden's pick for State Biden, Harris briefed by national security experts amid transition obstacles Support swells for renaming Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma to honor John Lewis after his death MORE, who once wrote a book about the responsibility to protect civilians from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity, all we can come up with today about the situation is “deep concerns.”

This administration never had a vision for what this conflict was about, what it meant to the Middle East, and courses of action in the best interest of us or our allies.

In addition to Aleppo, the Obama administration has not done enough to recognize our vulnerability towards the threat of cyber related attacks.

While the U.S. has superiority over land, sea, air and space, we have peers in the cyber domain.

Under the Obama administration, the Office of Personnel Management had a breach involving over 21 million former and current government employees. Very sensitive information about individuals who had to disclose information for clearances is now in the open.

During this past election season we saw the release of tens of thousands of emails by high ranking Democratic Party officials, as well as the emails of John Podesta and Colin Powell.

One of the presidential candidates operated an unsecured email server, which all of her email while she was secretary of State were transmitted without government cyber protection — and what appears clear is everyone knew about it, including the president, and they knew it was wrong but nothing was done to fix it.

The thing about cyber attacks is you don’t feel the physical attack of a bullet, but let there be no doubt, the potential for a cyber attack to destroy critical infrastructure in our country is real.

What has this administration done to assure us they are on top of this? Instead, today they blame Putin for the hacking in order to influence the recent election.

If this is the case, we both knew something and didn’t do anything to respond to their attack, or we didn’t know and we are incompetent in recognizing what was going on.

Vice President Biden remarked to Meet the Press that the U.S. will react to Russia’s cyber attack:  

“We’re sending a message, he’ll know it, and it will be at the time of our choosing, and under the circumstances that have the greatest impact.”

That’s nice to say, but time is running out.

With his presidency at its close, has President Obama done enough?

I once worked for a general officer that said the leader not only has the responsibility for the first wave to hit the beaches, but to look over the horizon for the coming tsunami.  With both the situation in Aleppo and our country’s ability to defend from a cyber, I am afraid larger challenges, which President Obama left us underprepared to confront, loom ahead.

Army Major Mike Lyons (Ret.) is a Senior Fellow with the Truman National Security Project and is a military analyst for CBS News.


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