The incoherence of what may be loosely termed the “Obama doctrine” can be seen in our indifference to the slaughter of 300 Syrian democracy protestors on the heels of a failed attempt to protect innocents in Libya.
We don’t often find ourselves in agreement with the Washington Post, but we share the view that President Obama’s silence and inaction on the continuing violence and repression in Syria, other than a boilerplate condemnation of it as “outrageous,” is positively shameful.
After the president said Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi “must go,” we didn’t apply enough force to accomplish it, passing the baton off to a feckless NATO after getting permission slips from the U.N. and an Arab League that wanted action but wouldn’t pay for it.
We suspect the whole exercise in Libya was not an attempt to apply American power, but rather the latest episode of redistributing declining American power to international organizations as the Obama administration continues its war on American leadership.
We have asked before — why Libya and not Syria? Libya is an irritant, but Syria is and has been a direct threat to American interests. Damascus has long been known as a Club Med for international terrorism, with many groups running their operations from there.
Iran’s closest ally and partner has helped shovel arms to Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza, enabling both to make war on our democratic ally Israel. During Operation Iraqi Freedom, Iran provided haven and transit for jihadists traveling to Iraqi to kill American soldiers. Syria’s efforts to build a nuclear facility with North Korean prompted an Israeli airstrike in 2007.
Syria’s army occupied neighboring Lebanon for decades until the revolution following the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafic Hariri forced it to leave. It has sought to destabilize that country through the assassination of anti-Syrian Lebanese leaders.
Now, as the proverbial “Arab street” rises up even in the streets of Damascus, Syria slaughters its own people. At least five people reportedly died when security forces fired on mourners traveling to funerals of earlier victims in Ezra to prevent grievers from attending.
What is the U.S. going to do about it? Probably not much, just as we did little to support dissidents in Iran when they took to the streets in 2009. After all, Secretary of State Clinton has told us that Syrian thug Bashar al-Assad is viewed in many quarters as a “reformer.”
At the very least, we should recall our ambassador to Syria, Robert Ford, as Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., has demanded. We never understood Ford’s recess appointment last year, the first U.S. ambassador to Syria after a five-year absence. Why that recess appointment? Why did we reward a government still considered a state sponsor of terror, getting absolutely nothing in return?
The U.S. must support pro-democracy movements in Syria, Iran and other places in the Middle East — and not just with words. Yes, that means backing regime change. When we say a dictator must go, we need to make it happen. While we’re at it, Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad should be added to the list.
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