There is no excuse for President Obama not to utter six simple words: The Assad dictatorship must go now.
Perhaps a thousand Syrians have been killed so far in the ruthless suppression of dissent orchestrated by Bashar al-Assad. I suppose the administration plans to wait until Bashar surpasses the record set by his father Hafez, who put down the 1982 revolt in Hama at a cost estimated between 17,000 and 40,000 dead.
But it’s not like the Syrian regime is such a bargain for the rest of the world, either. Recently, Hillary Clinton reiterated her remarkable judgment that Assad could be a reformer. Here’s how one Israeli blogger responds:
This would pathetic and laughable if were not so sad and dangerous. The sanctions that [Clinton] mentioned were mild and toothless. She says all this after a host of Syrian/Assadian deeds demonstrating the bloodthirsty, tyrannical nature of the Syrian/Assadian regime. Has she forgotten the murder of Rafiq Hariri in Beirut, only six years ago, together with two dozen other people?? How about all the murders of the anti-Syrian leaders in Lebanon, members of parliament and journalists, etc? What about the short-lived Lebanese president, Rene Mu`awad, 20 years ago, after the Taif Accord? What about Kamal Jumblatt and Bashir Jemayel? What about the 20,000 to 30,000 Syrians slaughtered by Junior Assad’s father, Hafiz, in Hama in 1982? And Bashar who shows no mercy to his own people eagerly helps the Hizbullah in Lebanon to kill as many Jews in Israel as possible. Does any of that make an impression in Washington?
Apparently not. Nor, says Barry Rubin, does this:
Syria’s government has allied itself and helps in every way the terrorists who have killed hundreds of Americans in Iraq. And those terrorists belong to al-Qaida. Remember them? The group until recently headed by Usama bin Laden that carried out the September 11 attacks. This is also the strongest and most significant remaining al-Qaida member group.
What is there about the Assad regime that the US doesn’t get? Why did we return our ambassador (who was withdrawn as a result of the Hariri murder) while Assad was helping insurgents enter Iraq and supplying Hizballah?
I am not a conspiracy theorist. I am not too paranoid. But if you wanted to react to the upheavals in the Middle East in the absolutely worst possible way for Israel, you might do this:
- Fail to support Iranian dissidents or take effective action against the Iranian nuclear program.
- Fail to take action against the Hizballah takeover in Lebanon.
- But do encourage the overthrow of the Mubarak regime, so that it can be replaced by one which will be friendlier to Iran and Hamas and which is likely to throw away the peace treaty.
- And do allow your enemy and Israel’s, Bashar Assad, to put down the challenge to his dictatorship.
And do these other things:
- Prevent Israel from a) overthrowing Hamas in Operation Cast Lead and b) defeating it by economic warfare.
- Help the PLO build an army to fight Israel with.
- Support the Palestinian position that the lack of negotiations is Israel’s fault.
Is that how you support an ally that is more reliable, militarily stronger, and closer to your democratic values than any Arab nation? And is that the way to look after American interests?