A Shirking President, And An Army For Rent

I mentioned in my post this morning that the Obama Administration seems to be making up its Syria policy as it goes along.  Two things happened today that reinforce that conclusion for me.

First, President Obama said that he didn’t set a “red line” — rather, “[t]he world set a red line.”  And, to further display his apparent unwillingness to shoulder responsibility, the President said:  “My credibility’s not on the line. The international community’s credibility is on the line. And America and Congress’s credibility is on the line.”  I find myself spluttering at the incoherent arrogance of such remarks, and groaning at the President’s reflexive shirking tendencies.  So it’s the country that got us into this predicament, eh?  Why can’t President Obama act like a leader at a time like this, rather than someone who is figuring out what talking points will best position him to avoid any blowback for a blunder?

And then there is Secretary of State John Kerry, whose testimony yesterday was alarming because he refused to rule out the possibility that American troops might be sent into an angry, anti-American country that is sinking into chaos.  Today his reassuring comment was that the oil-rich Arab states have offered to pay for the entire cost of toppling the evil Assad regime.  Secretary Kerry depicts this offer as showing how “dedicated” to the cause the Arab states are.

Huh?  A more apt conclusion is that the Arab states have plenty of cash, and are perfectly happy to pay the American mercenaries to come once more into the Middle East and risk their lives to take out a tyrant.  Now we know how the Hessians must have felt during the Revolutionary War.

I’m not hearing anything that is changing my mind on this:  as bad as a use of chemical weapons is, our vital interests aren’t at issue.  The Arab countries, on the other hand, do have something at stake in what is going on in their own back yards.  Instead of pulling out their wallets, why don’t they send in their own troops and risk their own soldiers’ lives to do the dirty work for once?

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Forgotten Syria, Powerless UN

People have forgotten about Syria, but not because things have gotten better there.  Instead, Syria has simply been knocked off the front page by the French action in Mali, Lance Armstrong’s confession, and countless other, fresher stories.

Yesterday, evidence emerged of another horrific mass killing in Syria.  More than 70 bodies were found by a river near the town of Aleppo; some had hands tied behind their backs and gun shot wounds to the head.  The UN estimates that more than 60,000 people have been killed in a conflict between the Assad government and opposition groups that has lasted for a year.  The opposition blames the government, and the government blames the opposition forces, and in the meantime Syrians keep getting slaughtered.

Predictably, the news of the latest massacre brought another call for international intervention and action by the UN Security Council.  There will be no UN action, of course, because the Security Council is deadlocked, with China and Russia resisting any action that might be taken against the Assad government.  Even the U.S., Great Britain, and France are just pushing for resolutions that threaten sanctions.  UN resolutions aren’t likely to do much good when armed men are kicking in your door and taking members of your family out for execution.

We’re paying no attention to it, but Syria should be teaching us two valuable lessons and reminding us of a third, sad reality of the modern world.  The first lesson is that the UN is a weak institution that will rarely take decisive action; contrast the French action in Mali to the UN’s dithering about Syria, and you get a good idea of the difference between a nation and an “international institution.”  The second lesson is that the cries of the “Arab street” about mistreatment of Arabs are hollow and hypocritical.  Where are the mass protests in front of Syrian embassies throughout the Arab world when each new outrage is unveiled?  We should all remember the lack of any meaningful Arab response to the murder of thousands of Syrians the next time we hear angry Arab denunciations of claimed Israeli misconduct toward the Palestinians or American unfairness.

And the cold, cruel reality is that the world has only so much appetite for horror and outrage before it turns off the TV.  The BBC story linked above refers to the “Syria crisis,” but that’s not quite right.  A true “crisis” involves a crucial point of decision.  That doesn’t exist here, because the world seems to have accepted that the Assad regime will remain in power and continue to kill its opponents.  If there were a policeman in front of the yellow tape surrounding the Syrian crime scene, he would be saying:  “There’s nothing to see here.  Move along.”