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Obama Passes On Syria

  

Of all the Arab nations, it is Syria that has been the most alluring temptation for the gullible West, a tantalizing fruit dangling just out of reach, forever attracting suitors who wistfully project their naive hopes that one day this recidivist nation will recant its sordid past for an enlightened future. 

Many of our most star struck emissaries have, in the past, even taken to dreamily referring to its malfeasant dictator as a "reformer," however reluctant and roughly hewn. 

But, despite the hopes and misguided efforts of the world's greatest diplomats and leaders, Syria, from the father, Hafez al-Assad, through the son and current dictator, ophthalmologist-turned-successor-autocrat, Bashar Assad, has remained what it has always been, the epicenter of Arab secular radicalism and the leader of the rejectionist front.

And yet with the upheaval of the so-called Arab Spring, with Arab potentates toppling one after another, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in Tunisia, Hosni Mubarak in Egypt, and Moammar Gaddafi in Libya (and many others threatened), we observe the wheels of history turning in this, yet another grim and tormented Arab nation, and delivering up for the world a possible gift - if but world leaders, and, particularly, the Obama administration would pay heed. 

Syria, under the Assads, has dominated Lebanon, waged war with its neighbors, hosted Hamas and Hezbollah, and has masterminded the assassination of a former Lebanese Prime Minister (Rafik Hariri).  It allowed Hezbollah to rearm itself after its war with Israel; it arranged the murder of prominent Lebanese critics of Syria to undermine its pro-Western government and played a leading role in the recent takeover of the Lebanese Parliament by the pro-Syrian Hezbollah.  Syria fed the insurgency in Iraq, killing American troops.  It maintains close ties with North Korea, its fellow genealogic-dictatorship, which assisted it in building a clandestine nuclear arms venture (eventually destroyed by Israel in 2007).  And, of course, it has a "special" relationship with Iran, providing it a wide berth for influence and mischief in the region.

Indeed, Syria has been a noxious presence in the Middle East: it is the core of Arab rejectionism, chief Arab ally of some of our worst enemies, regional hegemon and destabilizing force, and had been an active participant in the killing of our soldiers in Iraq. 

But now the Syrian regime, in the midst of a nine-month uprising and having killed more than 4,000 of its citizens, is under fire as the nation slips toward civil war.

Furthermore, the main opposition group, the Syrian National Council, is led by Burhan Ghalioun, 66, an academic living in Paris, who refers to himself as a "secular" Muslim and believes in liberal democracy; he proposes to end Syria's relationship with Iran and terminate it's support of Hezbollah and Hamas; he has reached out to Christians (and other minorities) in Syria and has called for separation of religion and state; he would normalize relations with Lebanon and come to terms with Israel over the Golan Heights diplomatically. 

Considering everything else in the Middle East, this is almost too good to be true... To remove from power one of the Arab world’s most destructive influences, and replace it with a homegrown, pluralistic democracy would be nothing short of… astounding.

Particularly, as we observe Arab nations, in the wake of the “Arab Spring,” voting in, one by one, totalitarian Islamist states - in Tunisia, Egypt, Morocco, and, coming soon, Libya.

In Tunisia, for example, the Arab World's most secular and westernized state, the Islamic party, Ennahda, won overwhelmingly, leaving secular elements far behind.

In Egypt, recent elections show the Muslim Brotherhood (through its Freedom and Justice Party) winning 46% of lower house Parliament seats.  Nour, or Party of Light, an even more puritanical party than the Brotherhood, won 21% of seats; between the two, along with various offshoots, two thirds of the electorate voted Salafist, while the largest secular party managed only 10%.  The first round of elections in Egypt also took place in its most cosmopolitan cities; as elections move to more rural areas, it is likely that Islamists will only increase their power. 

The Justice and Development Party in Morocco, also Islamist, won a majority in recent elections there. 

In Libya, shortly after the death of Gaddafi, the leader of the National Transitional Council, Abdel Jalil, called for the institution of Sharia law.

And, so, with the region veering toward entrenched Islamism, what has been the response of the Obama administration to events in Syria? 

Let us remember that it was President Obama, who personally led the charge against Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, a staunch ally of the US for three decades, and lynch-pin of anti-terror efforts and peace arrangements in the region. 

It was Obama who, without Congressional approval, involved the US military in the NATO led intervention that felled the Libyan dictator, Moammar Gaddafi, an incursion with no identifiable national interest, other than to birth another Islamist state.

Surely, considering that Obama employed US prestige and assets in the overthrow of Mubarak and Gaddafi, the opportunity to pluck a liberal democracy from one of the world's most ruthless regimes, a central player in the Middle East, and an ally of Iran, would be eagerly embraced?

Not so fast.

Unlike the prompt reaction of Obama against former friend Hosni Mubarak or the unauthorized and questionable military intervention against the non-threat of Moammar Gaddafi, for the thousands of innocent Syrian citizens killed by Assad, Obama and his lieutenants have been muted, to say the least, not unlike the non-response to Iran's democratic "green" revolution in 2009. 

The Obama administration, to begin, was pathetically laggard in condemning Assad and calling for his resignation, coming only in August, six months after the uprising began and after thousands had already been jailed, tortured, and murdered

Nor, prior to that point, had there been demands for sanctions, travel bans, or asset freezes, or calls for the UN Security Council, the UN Human Rights Council, or the International Criminal Court to investigate Syrian atrocities.  

Nor was there support for the pro-democracy opposition or efforts to enlist the European Union against the brutal Syrian crackdown or criticism of Iran for aiding Syria in its repression of its own people. 

Nor were there plans for “humanitarian” (military) intervention, to arm rebels or protect citizens - where an argument that our nation’s interest was served could at least be made (unlike Libya), particularly as Iran, a Syrian ally (and our nemesis), advances ever closer to developing nuclear weapons. 

What better way to further isolate Iran than depriving it of its closest Arab partner?

But fear not: with unprecedented turmoil occurring in that critical region, former allies turning Salafist, and Syria up for grabs, the Obama team wasted no time pouncing on... Israel.

At a recent Middle East Conference, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta lambasted Israel, and demanded that it "get to the damn table" with the Palestinian Authority, failing to notice that Israel has offered a host of groundbreaking compromises with the Palestinians, all of them rebuffed.  He also, apparently, was unconcerned that the PA has formed a unity government with Hamas, the terrorist group that calls openly for the destruction of Israel.

He further demanded that Israel make yet more overtures to Turkey, Jordan, and Egypt, even as each of these nations moves towards radical, Israel-hating, Islamism, particularly Turkey, which has knowingly amputated its former alliance with the Jewish state in favor of its new friend in Iran (and, until recently, Syria). Egypt, in large part thanks to Obama, is soon to come under the rule of the Muslim Brotherhood, the forebears of Hamas.

At the same conference, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, launched a jeremiad against the Jewish state because its popularly elected legislature may pass a bill she doesn't agree with, namely one that would limit the ability of foreign governments to fund non representative, marginal, far-left anti-Israeli political NGOs (within Israel) that seek to subvert its government.

And so the two most powerful members of the Obama cabinet took precious time to attack and criticize our sole democratic ally in the Middle East, while neglecting deeply troubling events elsewhere in the region and most particularly the murderous antics of the Assad regime. 

But then the Obama team has a well-established pattern of attacking friends and engaging enemies. 

While reaching out to rogue regimes in Iran, Venezuela, Russia, China, and the Sudan, Obama has abused key democratic allies like Great Britain, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Columbia, Honduras, and, especially, Israel. 

He sought the overthrow of long-term friend Hosni Mubarak while appeasing Assad who butchered his people by the thousands.

Perhaps it is understandable for Obama, a man of the left. 

Raised, as he was, in the rich, anti-American, anti-Semitic ambrosia of Reverend Jeremiah Wright, Bill Ayres, Rashid Khalidi, and the faculty lounges of Columbia and Harvard, it is only natural to perceive America's enemies as friends, and vice versa.

If one believes, for example, that America is morally stained, our power and wealth ill gotten and unjust, our primacy based on inequality and exploitation, that American strength must be constrained and subordinated to international bodies such as the UN or Arab League, and that further apologies and self-abasement are necessary to atone for past misdeeds, then it makes sense that we should embrace our enemies who believe all this, and betray our friends who do not.

They are, in effect, kindred spirits.

One can debate the merits of America's military adventures in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya, but there can be no doubt of the benefit to the Middle East – and the US - of the overthrow of Bashar Assad.  And for something this important, America should play a very active role indeed.  If not militarily, then everything short of that. 

But do not expect such thinking from the Obama regime, which has trouble discerning friends and enemies...   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comments

  • Harvey Chaimowitz

    December 26, 2011

    Why is it evident to me that you are glad to perceive these imagined flaws in Obama's policy, real and imagined? It is obvious to any sensitive political observer that you are glad for an Obama mistep and unhappy when he makes a good move. You decried his horrible assassination of Osama bin Laden. That gave yourself away as a dedicated rightwing operative that will do anything, say anything to win office. You decry Obama's Middle East stance, but not a peep about your hero, Ron Paul, who openly calls for cutting Israel off completely and leaving the Middle East to go to hell, as you apparently feel about this country, so long as you can achieve your ends of power. I trust Obama and his advisors to guide us through the world mess more than I do a partisan ranter, drooling with jealousy.

  • Richard A. Potts

    January 2, 2012

    This is right on! Obama is quick on some things and frequently wrong i.e. the police officer at Harvard, when it fits his agenda,but very slow or completely silent when it doesn't. His total lack of talents and abilities in foreign affairs becomes more apparent as his administration moves on. The man is inept. Let us hope for a new administration willing to defend our friends and stand up to our enemies and one that truly knows the difference!

  • Richard A. Potts

    January 2, 2012

    This is right on! Obama is quick on some things and frequently wrong i.e. the police officer at Harvard, when it fits his agenda,but very slow or completely silent when it doesn't. His total lack of talents and abilities in foreign affairs becomes more apparent as his administration moves on. The man is inept. Let us hope for a new administration willing to defend our friends and stand up to our enemies and one that truly knows the difference!

  • Richard A. Potts

    January 2, 2012

    This is right on! Obama is quick on some things and frequently wrong i.e. the police officer at Harvard, when it fits his agenda,but very slow or completely silent when it doesn't. His total lack of talents and abilities in foreign affairs becomes more apparent as his administration moves on. The man is inept. Let us hope for a new administration willing to defend our friends and stand up to our enemies and one that truly knows the difference!

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