The United States is coming under increasingly bitter criticism for its perceived lack of leadership over Syria as the country’s brutal civil conflict heads toward new levels of intensity.

Washington appears unable or unwilling to prevent its ally Turkey from bombing Kurdish fighters inside Syria, its critics say. And it has done little to rein in Russia’s mounting military involvement on behalf of Bashar al-Assad.

In the eyes of his detractors, President Barack Obama is guilty of refusing to engage in Syria by doing exactly what he said he would do when he was elected in 2008: pulling America out of Middle Eastern wars, after the Iraq debacle, and “pivot” US foreign policy towards Asia.

A pointed attack came Tuesday from France, where few have forgotten Obama’s last-minute refusal to take action against Syria in 2013 after evidence surfaced that the government used chemical weapons against civilians.