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Posted at 08:30 AM ET, 08/10/2011

Obama inches toward asking Assad to go

It sounds like a parody, but unfortunately this is a CNN news account of the Obama administration’s sloth-like progress in helping the Syrian people to throw Bashar al-Assad out:

The United States is moving toward issuing an explicit call for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down, U.S. government sources told CNN Tuesday.
The move is expected to be announced in coming days after U.S. officials consult with the United Nations Security Council, the sources said.
Officials described the White House as being more eager to make the announcement while the State Department is being more cautious about the ramifications should al-Assad not heed the call.

How eager has the White House been, one wonders, since the popular revolt and slaughter of peaceful demonstrators has been going on since February. Some analysts speculate that the United States may be waiting for Turkey to act. (Leading from behind, remember.)

Reuters reported yesterday:

Turkey has demanded that Syria’s leaders stop the killing of civilians and said Tuesday it would be watching events there in the next days, raising pressure on President Bashar al-Assad, who said his forces would continue to pursue “terrorist groups.”
“Developments in the coming days will be critical, for both Syria and Turkey,” Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told a news conference in Ankara after returning from talks in Damascus. “Turkey’s main and first aim is for the bloodshed to be stopped, and (for) an end to civilian deaths

And the U.S. reaction to that? It’s just as you would expect at this point:

Washington expressed disappointment at Assad’s latest comments and said U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton expected to talk to Davutoglu after his meetings in Syria.
“It is deeply regrettable that President Assad does not seem to be hearing the increasingly loud voice of the international community,” U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters when asked about the comments.
She refused to comment directly on a 2009 U.S. diplomatic cable quoted by McClatchy newspapers last week describing Assad in unflattering terms, calling him “neither as shrewd nor as long-winded as his father” (former president Hafez al-Assad).

Deeply regrettable.

That’s actually one way to describe the peculiar mix of indifference and incompetence that characterizes President Obama’s foreign policy. Why didn’t we call for Assad’s ouster months ago? Why didn’t we take charge in Libya, short-circuiting Moammar Gaddafi’s reign of terror? Why were we mute during the 2009 Green Revolution? When Russian operatives set off bombs in Georgia? When China arrested more high-profile dissidents? It is a long and ignominious record of indifference and appeasement, mixed with pompous pronouncements of our good intentions.

The State Department’s fear of being ignored is telling. It is true that at this point friends and foes have learned to ignore the administration. And, unfortunately, dissidents in Syria, Libya, Russia, China and Iran are learning that they cannot depend on the United States to advance their interests and to apply pressure to their tormentors.

By  |  08:30 AM ET, 08/10/2011

Categories:  foreign policy, Human Rights

 
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