Paul Wolfowitz writes: “American policy on Syria today seems paralyzed by the understandable fear of getting into another war like those in Afghanistan or Iraq. But no one, least of all the Syrian people, wants to see an American invasion and occupation of Syria.” In essence President Obama has set up one of those false choices to justify doing nothing effective to oust Bashar al-Assad:
On its present course, the United States is in danger of repeating a different bad experience — that of Bosnia, where three years of refusal to allow the Bosnian Muslims to have weapons to defend themselves resulted in the death of an estimated 200,000 people — mostly civilians — including 8,000 in the single terrible massacre at Srebrenica. . . .
[T]here was no need for American forces to move any deeper into Iraq in 1991, or for American ground troops to fight in Bosnia or for the United States to go to war in Syria today. The key failure in Bosnia, like today’s failure in Syria, was the refusal to let the Bosnians have even basic defensive weapons, such as anti-tank missiles. For the Syrians today, the United States could also assist in creating protected sanctuaries on the Syrian border in Turkey and possibly even Jordan. It might even be possible to establish sanctuaries on the Syrian side of the border, as was done belatedly for the Kurds in northern Iraq.
It would be one thing if President Obama said that we had no strategic interest in ousting Assad. But we do. It would be another if he said it was of no moment that thousands of Syrians are being murdered. But he won’t voice such sentiments or let on that he’s not about to let 9,000 (or 90,000 for that matter) dead Syrians stand between him and reelection on a platform of “ending” wars. (Good thing Presidents Lincoln, FDR and Truman wanted to win wars.)
Wolfowitz demolishes the notion Obama is “doing everything we can” for the Syrian people. “It is clear by now that the regime of Bashar al-Assad is simply using the Kofi Annan mission as a cover to continue the killing while the United States and other countries that call themselves the ‘Friends of Syria’ use it as a reason or an excuse for inaction. Sanctions will not persuade the Assad regime to surrender power, and talk about an embargo on luxury goods is a cruel joke.”
Actual “cruel joke” is a good way to describe the president’s foreign policy: Surge and then yank out troops from Afghanistan; abandon Iraq; do a diplomatic dance with Iran’s mullahs as the centrifuges spin; soften sanctions against Cuba while American Alan Gross rots in prison; and ignore human rights abuses around the globe. Abdication of American leadership is no joke, however, to the people of Syria, Russia, Iran, China and elsewhere who have in essence been told by this president, “You are on your own.” Perhaps one day an American president will go to the Holocaust museum and ask his fellow citizens, “ How could we have allowed mass atrocities in Syria?” The answer: Obama wanted a second term.