Spin Cycle

12.13.12

Columnist Says Obama Stumbling on Syria, Egypt

David Ignatius sees missteps in president's foreign policy

David Ignatius, the Washington Post columnist, is not impressed with President Obama’s handling of Syria.

“He has been awfully slow,” Ignatius tells me in a video interview.

Why didn’t Obama, who finally recognized the Syrian opposition this week, move more quickly to help topple the Assad regime?

“There’s nothing that would have prevented the U.S. from working harder to help build the muscle tissue of a solid command and control structure that could win, but that seems to be happening without our help,” Ignatius says.

So why did the administration drag its feet? “There’s been a feeling from the beginning that the militarization of this conflict will lead to ethnic sectarian war like we saw in Iraq and the deaths of far more civilians.”

As for Egypt, the columnist says Obama “made a bet” that Mohammed Morsi could mobilize his Muslim Brotherhood supporters and “lead them toward responsible government…I think it’s a bet that needs to be hedged.”

While supporting Morsi was the right move, says Ignatius, “what isn’t good is for us to condone anti-democratic practices by the regime or to remain silent when that regime does things that Egyptians get upset about..The problem was that we kept our mouths shut as he essentially zapped the Egyptian judiciary.”