The Siege of Aleppo is over, except for the mopping up and the resettlement of the refugees who were lucky enough to get out. The battle featured some of the worse of humanity, the remorseless massacre of civilians by Syrian armed forces, backed by Russian and Iranian allies as well as the studied indifference of the world community, especially the outgoing President Barack Obama who has absconded to his final vacation before leaving office, in sunny Hawaii. The aftermath of the atrocity is going to be the job of Donald Trump to handle. He has already proposed establishing safe zones in Syria for refugees to flee to, presumably to be protected by international troops backed by the United States.

The Syrian Civil War, which has taken over 400,000 lives, is the singular foreign policy legacy of President Obama which, along with the similar disaster in Libya and the rise of ISIS in Iraq and Syria, will blight the world for many years. Elections have consequences and the price for electing Barack Obama twice have been paid for in blood in the Middle East and a migrant crisis in Europe as people from conflict zones, understandably, flee to places where people are not shooting and bombing each other. Unfortunately, the clash of cultures between the refugees and the Europeans are causing even more trauma.

Cleaning up the mess that Obama has left in the Middle East is going to be the primary foreign policy exercise for the early Trump years.

Safe zones will be one step that needs to be taken, just to stem the bloodbath that is taking place. What else can be done to restrain the capriciousness of the Syrian-Iranian-Russian axis of evil, not to mention putting ISIS into the grave, remains to be seen. The United States is not going to send a large expeditionary force to deal with the mess.

Iraq has turned Americans off from such adventures for the time being. Likely President Trump is going to cultivate allies, use air power, and otherwise, try to influence events indirectly. What he cannot do is to turn back the clock to retrieve the lost opportunities of Obama who set the “red line” the watched as it was ignored, crossed, and rubbed out.

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