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Thursday, August 11, 2011

WaPo demands that Obama lead or something

The Washington Post (no, you won't see this from the New York Times) is demanding that the Obama administration step up and lead the charge to get Bashar al-Assad to stop murdering his own people and quit.
It is therefore worrying that the international response, though improving, remains inconsistent. Turkey is the leading example: Its prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has condemned Mr. Assad for “pointing guns at his own people,” offered refuge on Turkish soil to civilians fleeing from the regime’s military offensives and pressed hard to stop the assault on Hama.

But Mr. Erdogan continues to offer leeway to a dictator he assiduously cultivated until a few months ago. On Wednesday, he said he expected that Mr. Assad would end the violence “within 10 to 15 days” and then “take steps for reform.” That seems to offer plenty of time for further murderous pacification of Syrian cities — and no specifics about what “reforms” the Turks believe are necessary.

This is the sort of situation in which the United States has historically stepped in to exercise leadership. But Mr. Obama has been passive throughout the Syrian crisis. He has spoken about it in public only twice in five months, while the State Department has performed an excruciating rhetorical striptease. It started with describing Mr. Assad as “a reformer”; a month ago the rhetoric finally progressed to calling the dictator “illegitimate.” But the last handkerchief — a demand that he leave office — has yet to drop. The time for those words is long overdue — and Mr. Obama should utter them, in person and in public.
He won't utter those words without a Security Council resolution, and at the moment, all the Security Council can muster is a statement, and a weak one at that. After all, look what happened when he said that Mubarak must go. You think he wants to see the anti-American Assad in the dock like Mubarak? He's leading from behind. What could go wrong?

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