On Sunday’s “State of the Union” on CNN, former presidential adviser and CNN contributor David Gergen warned that President Barack Obama’s handling of the Syrian crisis could induce the Russians to aggressively involve themselves with the war-torn country.
Gergen also said U.S. involvement in Syria could cause the Russians to step up their support of Bashar al-Assad’s government.
“Whatever it is, it will be frosty on both sides. I don’t think they will talk very much. I think a risk as Nick [Burns] was pointing out some of the risks — there a very definite risk that Russia now will step up its armaments of the Syrians in preparation for an attack. After all, this is their friend,” he said. “They’re going to say this is a wrongful action with no international support — illegal internationally and we’re going to step it up. There are those risks.”
Gergen said that Obama, however, has looked as if he’s lost control of this situation as a commander-in-chief, which other nations could perceive as a sign of weakness.
“I think the bigger risk, what the president has to work on here, is that you can say it’s wise to call for the Congress to do this, but the way he went about it, it was so jerky and unpredictable, that I think it’s raised questions about just how firm a grip he has on the wheel as a commander in chief,” Gergen added. “I mean, after all, starting with the drawing of the red line itself, which seemed to be sort of almost ‘by the way, it’s a red line,’ as opposed to a well thought-out plan, and now we have no apparent strategy for long term in the Middle East. Nick [Burns] knows this better than I do, but presidents need to be seen in control of events and sort of guiding events, and not just reacting or bouncing around.”