Obama’s Open Hand to Nowhere Results in Predictable Syrian Slap to the Face
Bush’s Deputy National Security Adviser Elliott Abrams takes us there blow by blow, courtesy of the ever delish Weekly Standard..
The Obama administration has been trying out a new policy toward Syria since the day it came to office. The Bush cold shoulder was viewed as a primitive reaction, now to be replaced by sophisticated diplomacy. Outreach would substitute for isolation. Thus there have been six visits to Damascus by high-level administration officials, including two by George Mitchell. Moreover, the administration has signaled that its handling of export license applications for Syria will be more “flexible” than that of the Bush administration, which tried to deny every shipment it could.
Well, the returns are in. Within the past week, Iraq has withdrawn its ambassador from Damascus and accused Syria of involvement in terrorist incidents in Baghdad. Iraqi TV has also aired a confession by an accused al Qaeda terrorist, a Saudi who claimed he had been trained in Syria–by the Asad regime’s intelligence services. Nor is this all. Syria continues to support Hezbollah’s blocking of the formation of a government in Lebanon, backing Hezbollah in its demand for a “blocking third” that would prevent any decisions Hezbollah opposes in any new Cabinet. The Palestinian terrorist groups remain headquartered in Damascus, and under no visible restraints. And on August 19, President Bashar Asad paid a visit to President Ahmadinejad in Tehran, to showcase his support of the latter during the current Iranian political crisis. [...]
You can smell the generous dollop of sarcasm Abrams drops on us with his ‘sophisticated diplomacy’ shot above, as soon as I read that I knew I’d be blogging about this one. I love that! Critics will point out that Obama has in theory maintained the ‘US tough guy stance’ toward Syria by renewing American Congressional sanctions slapped on the regime by the Bush Administration, albeit minus the now granted gift of export licenses mentioned above for technical parts & other goodies. Further, the argument inevitably leads to critics saying the Bush strategy did not produce desired results, so ‘hope & change’ was needed.
To this criticism Abrams fires off an unexpected volley, the Bush strategy was too tame & weak. With evidence pouring in that Syria has been for years now allowing the open flow of men & matériel to Iraq with the goal of fighting Americans, Abrams counters that a more aggressive strategy would have been effective and that the tools – A massive US military presence along the border regions with Iraq were close at hand.
Hawks Speaking Out
Which brings up another related manner. VP Cheney’s recent comments to Fox News Sunday which carried a not so subtle undertone. The second half of the Bush administration’s two terms exhibited a much weaker foreign policy stance across the board. One which clearly created debate within the administration with Cheney and hawks lined up versus Condi Rice and the organs of State.
We can deduce without much trouble where Elliott might fall opinion wise. Cheney himself spoke about Iran, but this weakened stance exhibited itself in relation to Syria & North Korea, and finally in the Annapolis process as well which was clearly Condi’s baby. This weakness was most especially pronounced & came to the fore clearly when Condi lobbied to have America halt Israel from successfully striking the Syrian illicit nuclear program, which was frankly a stunning bit of appeasement that Bush thankfully resisted.
Realists vs NeoCons
It all comes full circle. Abrams speaks about the lack of moral clarity we’re now seeing under President Obama in relation to Syria, but just as glaringly we have also seen it in relation to Iran. Where Obama shamefully sacrificed American ideals to appease a brutal and vicious Iranian Revolutionary Guard military coup in order to prop up his already failing strategy on that front too.
The new Obama policy has produced no change in Syrian conduct, but it has produced a change in American behavior: Now we have even lost the moral clarity with which America used to speak about the nature and actions of the Asad regime.
But that is in essence the great American dilemma right now isn’t it?
With realists driving American foreign policy; Freedom, American values and sacrosanct American ideals which are the basis of neoconservative policies have taken a back seat to cold often faulty calculating ‘realism’. Screw Democracy, it’s now a moment by moment mish mash of washed up, moraless, academia induced nonsense. There’s no map or guiding principles. In short – An epic fail in both result and what has been sacrificed.. The American moral high ground.