MURDER IN SYRIA – AT 10:04 A.M. ET: While the president and the Israeli prime minister debate each other in Washington, the slaughter continues in Syria, with nothing much being done about it except some ineffective lectures by Western leaders:
BEIRUT — Defying a stern warning from President Obama, Syrian forces opened fire on protesters after Friday prayers, killing at least 32 people as the regime led by President Bashar al-Assad showed no sign of easing its military crackdown.
The shootings came a day after Obama said that Assad that he should oversee a transition to democracy or “get out of the way,” marking the first time the U.S. leader has publicly called on the Syrian regime to change its behavior.
You can see just how seriously Obama is taken. This is what happens when you project weakness rather than strength.
The continued assault illustrated how little leverage the United States holds over Syria, a country with which it has long had frosty relations, and whose leaders seem in no mood to back down from a brutal effort to suppress the protests by force.
With the protesters also showing renewed determination to brave bullets and tanks to take their challenge to the streets, the country appears locked in a bloody standoff that many fear will only escalate into further violence. Many Syrian activists now say that it may be too late for Assad to change course and offer reforms to a populace that has endured weeks of bloodshed and no longer trusts the regime to change.
COMMENT: And, as we've reported before, the signs coming out of Egypt are dismal, with the Muslim Brotherhood growing more and more powerful.
Meanwhile, the president talks about the "Arab spring" as if we're on the verge of a Mideast Utopia. There is a naiveté about the man, stemming from a lack of experience in the real world, and certainly a lack of international experience. We will pay for this long after he leaves office.
May 21, 2011