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Opinion: Obama deserves praise for showing restraint on Syria

President Obama answered questions Friday at the White House.

President Obama answered questions Friday at the White House.

(Mark Wilson / Getty Images)

To the editor: When it comes to Syria, it is unfair to call a no-win situation a foreign policy failure. (“The tragic, unsurprising fall of Aleppo,” Opinion, Dec. 18)

On the contrary, President Obama considered the long-term national security of the U.S. in deciding not to put large numbers of troops in Syria uninvited, without an international mandate, without the support of Congress, without a cohesive opposition that could govern, and with two military powers in Russia and Iran working against our efforts.

We’re still more than a decade and trillions of dollars into two wars, and as Obama explained recently, unless we were “all in and willing to take over Syria,” it was going to be “impossible to do this on the cheap.” He also expressed frustration over atrocities happening in South Sudan and elsewhere, but he said his decisions are based on what is best for America.

Kathy Harty, Sierra Madre

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To the editor: The trouble with Doyle McManus’ critique of Obama’s handling of the Syrian crisis is that, even with the advantage of hindsight, he does not come up with an alternative course of action that clearly would have had a better outcome.

McManus does bring up the idea of arming moderate rebel groups and supplying them with antiaircraft weapons, which Obama did not do. Given the history of U.S.-supplied weapons ending up in enemy hands, Obama seems not to have made the wrong decision. It also seems certain that, if Syrian President Bashar Assad had been overthrown, the civil war would have continued among the rebel factions.

Every recent U.S. intervention in the Middle East has made the situation worse. Given the hole that we are in, stopping digging may have been the best choice Obama could have made.

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John La Grange, Solana Beach

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