HORROR IN SYRIA – AT 9:46 A.M. ET: There's supposed to be a ceasefire in Syria, but there really isn't. The murders continue, day by day. There are UN "observers" in the country, but too few to make a difference. Besides, the government's pattern is to kill, then stop killing of an observer comes through, then resume the slaughter.
The world is doing nothing. Estimates of the dead thus far in the Syrian revolt range from 9,000 to 11,000.
The great Fouad Ajami, one of the most clear-headed scholars on things Muslim and Middle Eastern, writes in the Wall Street Journal about our own country's abdication in its Syria policy:
Little more than a year into their terrible ordeal, the Syrians are a people unillusioned. "We have been forsaken by the world," a noted figure of the opposition recently told me in Istanbul.
Days later, in a refugee camp on the outskirts of Antakya, in a tent city a stone's throw from their tormented homeland, ordinary Syrians reiterate the same message. The ongoing Kofi Annan diplomacy and United Nations-brokered "cease-fire" are seen for what they are—an alibi for the abdication of Western powers, and a lifeline for the regime.
In the Syria deliberations, deliverance is always around the corner. American diplomacy is always on the verge of making Russia see its way to the proper path. In these tortured discussions, there is no end to finesse and to the parsing of things.
In one of its alibis for passivity, the Obama administration falls back on the threat posed by Islamists within the ranks of the opposition. This is but a recycling of the Assad regime's own assertions that its tyranny is a secular shield for the minorities and a barrier to the rise of the Islamists. Yet the surest way the Islamists and the jihadists can come to greater power in Syria is a drawn-out war that further degrades and radicalizes the country.
But behind the scenes there was a darker play: American officials have resisted and discouraged other players from providing crucial aid to the rebellion. The newly emancipated Libyans had crates of weapons and were keen to dispatch them to the Syrian rebels. But according to the Syrian opposition leader I spoke to in Istanbul, they were discouraged from doing so by American officials. Arab diplomats from the Gulf states confirm the same pattern of American obstructionism.
Everyone is waiting on Washington's green light and its leadership. Turkey would act, but only under the banner of NATO, and in partnership with the U.S. Importantly, none of the proposals for Syria's rescue call for American boots on the ground...
...It is a waste of time—and of precious lives—to buy into a wishful diplomacy that maintains that a few hundred U.N. observers will ward off the evils of a merciless sectarian tyranny.
COMMENT: The Assad regime in Syria is backed by Iran. If Assad survives, it is a major Iranian victory. Despite this, and the ghastly casualties, we do nothing except go to the UN, asking for some guys with old binoculars to run to Syria and report what they really aren't allowed to see.
There is no real American policy on Syria. And North Korea is reportedly set to test another nuclear bomb, a direct slap in our face.
When you project weakness, as this president does, this is what you get. And our children will pay the price.
April 25, 2012