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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Why the West is not responding to Syria's uprising

Jackson Diehl explains why the Obama administration and others in the West have been so slow to embrace the Syrian uprising.
I sorted through some of these obstacles last week with Ausama Monajed, the energetic spokesman of the National Initiative for Change, which is a coalition of Internet-based Syrian activists in and outside the country. The first problem, as he sees it, is that the United States “doesn’t have a Syria policy. It has a Middle East peace policy, but not a Syria-
specific policy.”

He’s right, of course. The Obama administration’s “engagement” policy for Syria was centered on obtaining results in other countries: peace for Israel, stability in Lebanon, the isolation of Iran. One reason it has been so slow to abandon Assad is that it would mean setting aside a mind-set that perceives Assad as capable of delivering those breakthroughs.

The bloodbath of the past few weeks has mostly snuffed out this fantasy of “Assad the reformer.” But the fear of what could follow him remains. A Post news article last week summed up the conventional wisdom, asserting that the fall of the regime “would unleash a cataclysm of chaos, violence and extremism.”
Well, some people in Washington still believe in Assad the reformer....
Asks Monajed, reasonably enough: Where’s the evidence for this? So far there has been no “sectarian strife” in the protests — on the contrary, the slogans raised by the demonstrators have stressed Syrian unity. No al-Qaeda suicide bombers have turned up — just young students and workers who, like people across the Middle East, are demanding that their countries join the 21st century. “The only ones talking about sectarian conflict are the regime,” says Monajed. “The people in the streets know that this is a trap — and they are determined not to fall into that trap.”

Lastly, there are the neighbors to whom Obama would defer — Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Israel. But in the latter two countries, at least, there has been a shift in the past couple of weeks. A realization is dawning that Assad may not survive — and that if he does, the regime will be dangerously weak.
I don't think Obama can abandon Assad for the same reason he can't abandon Abu Mazen or Ahmadinejad: Without any one of them, he has a gaping hole in his Middle East 'policy.'

What could go wrong?

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At 1:34 PM, Blogger Juniper in the Desert said...

It seems Obama's regime merely wanted change for change's sake: do the opposite of what was before, but without any thought as to what the result may be.

Milton's Lucifer had the identical idea, born of envy and anger at God for throwing him down from Heaven for misbehaving. Obama also chose evil over good.

At 2:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Obama's Middle East policy, as his foreign policy generally, is a hand-me down of fables, prejudices, wishes, and tortured generalizations derived from the academy. He's short a reality policy.


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