Obama’s strategic patience and the Syrian tragedy

February 14, 2015 1:55 AM

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The day President Barack Obama made “strategic patience” a central element of his national security strategy, the latest death toll in the Syrian civil war came out: 210,060 people, nearly half of them civilians. The number speaks volumes about a conflict that does not lend itself to resolution through patience.The body count came from the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a monitoring site based in Britain, and translates into an average of 147 deaths a day over three years and 10 months. The conflict flared in March 2011, when government forces opened fire on pro-democracy demonstrators, and morphed into a multisided war that triggered one of the worst humanitarian disasters in Middle East history.

Few other conflicts have prompted as much criticism of Obama’s leadership and foreign relations savvy as the Syrian war and the rise of ISIS. Even close former aides, including former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, have faulted him publicly for faili...

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