Obama at War: Inside the Obama Administration’s Syria Policy (full documentary)
20 Sep 2023
How President Barack Obama and his administration navigated the conflict in Syria and the battle against ISIS. (Aired 2015)
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In “Obama at War,” Martin Smith and Linda Hirsch investigated the Obama administration’s complicated struggle to deal with the deadly Syrian conflict and explored how the rise of ISIS raised the stakes. Drawing on interviews with key American military and diplomatic leaders as well as members of the Syrian opposition, this 2015 documentary offered an incisive look at President Obama’s choices involving Syria and the consequences.
Tracing Obama’s Syria policy from the Arab Spring in 2011 onward, “Obama at War” examined the heated debates within the Obama administration about when, if and how to get involved in Syria against President Bashar al-Assad’s regime. The documentary revealed an administration struggling to identify reliable partners on the ground, mindful of the American public’s war-weariness, and divided over whether to provide military aid to moderate rebels. The documentary also explored how a spiraling humanitarian catastrophe under Assad allowed ISIS to flourish.
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“Obama at War” was a FRONTLINE production with Rain Media. The writer, producer and correspondent was Martin Smith. The co-producer was Linda Hirsch. The deputy executive producer of FRONTLINE was Raney Aronson-Rath. The executive producer of FRONTLINE was David Fanning.
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FRONTLINE is produced at GBH in Boston and is broadcast nationwide on PBS. Funding for FRONTLINE is provided through the support of PBS viewers and by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Additional funding is provided by the Abrams Foundation; Park Foundation; the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation; and the FRONTLINE Journalism Fund with major support from Jon and Jo Ann Hagler on behalf of the Jon L. Hagler Foundation, and additional support from Koo and Patricia Yuen.
Prologue - 00:00
No ‘Easy Options’: The Obama Administration and the War in Syria - 1:04
Assad, Chemical Weapons and Obama's ‘Red Line’ in Syria - 19:05
The Rise of ISIS in Iraq and Syria - 36:41
Credits - 51:56