The Problem With Syria
Some pundits think Putin schooled the U.S. president -- Obama schooled everyone
[Black Star News Editorial]
President Barack Obama is one of the smartest human beings alive.
He did not become President of the United States of America by accident. Those who think Vladimir Putin schooled him are naive.
This editorial page was critical of the U.S. intervention in Libya. We don't believe it was President Obama's first choice. Hillary Clinton needed Libya more than Obama.
She may have believed ousting Muammar al-Quathafi would embellish her strong-against-terrorism credentials for a future presidential run. Bill Clinton praised the intervention at a ceremony to dedicate a UN building for the late Ron Brown. Clinton made the nonsensical observation to Obama that Ron Brown would be "very proud of you" for the intervention.
Hillary Clinton rushed to Libya for a macabre photo-op after the brutal assassination al-Quathafi. She chuckled when told of the killing. Shortly thereafter, Sen. John McCain, also a big champion of the Libyan intervention and now burning for a Syria strike, rushed to Tripoli accompanied by Sen. Lindsey Graham.
They haven't returned recently.
The Clintons, and McCain, never imagined Libya would unravel so quickly. The US ambassador Chris Stevens was murdered by the very "liberators" NATO had supported. Libya today is as chaotic and dangerous as Somalia once was. Oil production is almost non-existent from a peak of almost 2 million barrels a day.
President Obama is a better global chess player. He may have anticipated some of the consequences of the collapse of the Libyan state. Weapons from al-Quathafi's arsenal spread throughout northern Africa. Some of the NATO-backed Jihadists then ventured into Mali. Routed by the French intervention, many have outsourced their services to Syria.
President Obama has been under pressure to intervene militarily against the Bashar Assad government. But President Obama knows that there is no "good team" in Syria. Sen. McCain may talk about "moderate" rebels as much as he wants. In Syria's context it's like a discussion about "moderate Mafioso."
Bashar Assad's forces stand accused of using sarin against opposition fighters and civilians and killing more than 1,400 in an August 21 attack. Assad and Russia say the rebels were responsible for the war crime hoping to spark a U.S. armed intervention.
Yet the rebels are no "liberators." There is evidence they may have used chemical weapons in northern Syria in March according to an investigation by the United Nation's Carla Del Ponte.
Del Ponte's report, widely covered in Europe, had scant U.S. media mention.
Many large U.S. media outlets believe they do the Administration a favor by pretending that the Saudi Arabia-backed rebels in Syria are not committing war crimes. They focus only on abuses by Assad forces. Such vested media repeat their Libya scandal. Because NATO was supporting anti-Quathafi rebels, media ignored their crimes. Rebels there beheaded or lynched suspected al-Quathafi supporters and posted the videos on YouTube. Rebels from Misrata also ethnically cleansed the entire city of Tawarga, inhabited by Black Libyans.
These war crimes and crimes against humanity were ignored by major influential media outlets such as The New York Times and CNN until much later. The Wall Street Journal published some exemplary accounts to its credit.
This selective media coverage is a disservice to the Administration, to the world, and, in the current conflict, to all Syrians. By not reporting atrocities by both sides the public believe the president is standing on the sidelines for no reason.
Many Americans still wrongfully believe the rebels in Syria are the "good guys." Anyone reading this editorial can Google-search or YouTube-search "Syria rebels and atrocities" or "Syria rebels committing war crimes" or "Syria rebels and al-Qaeda connections" and make their own determination.
One Syrian rebel commander is shown on a video posted on YouTube proudly cutting through the chest bone of a dead enemy combatant, ripping out his heart, and biting into it. Those who find out more about the rebels may end up wishing that, if Obama were to order missile strikes, then in addition to Assad forces some should target the Saudi-financed rebel fighters.
President Obama is keenly aware that a U.S. strike, while crippling Assad, could also propel the rebels into power. Then they would also control Syria's vast arsenal of Sarin and other chemical weapons.
Obama is under tremendous pressure from Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Israel and many U.S. media pundits and editorial writers who are promoting a strike on Syria. In the U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron also faced pressure from the war constituency. He was rescued when The Mother of all Parliaments, Britain's, voted against war.
President Obama, whose brainpower is several avenues ahead of most editorial writers saw an opportunity.
Why couldn't he do what Cameron had done? Yes, the U.S. would hit Assad; once Congress voted on the matter. Critically absent in President Obama's address on Syria was any legal basis for a prospective strike.
Most Republican lawmakers in the U.S. Congress have a simple working formula: What Obama wants they don't want. The president is aware of this. Given the U.S. experience in Iraq and Afghanistan, Democratic lawmakers and the general public also opposed a Syria strike.
This was when Obama dusted off a proposal he had discussed with Russia's Vladimir Putin. So Secretary of State John Kerry made his so-called inadvertent comment: If Assad was willing to surrender his entire chemical weapons stockpile, he might be spared a missile strike.
This was Obama's preferred outcome. Yet, given the war-baiting by editorial writers and pundits, this proposal never would have gained traction as recent as a few weeks ago.
This was the right time. The Russians and Assad came on board. Assad may still be wary. Without chemical weapons which could no longer fall in the hands of rebels, might a missile strike against his forces not become palatable again down the line?
Some American opinion-makers who favor war may still derail the diplomatic approach. Several commentators have already denounced Obama as a Pacifist who has been "tutored" and "lectured to" by Putin.
Obama has survived scurrilous and ugly attacks by Birthers and some Tea-Partyers in the past. So what's a little more verbal abuse if that's the price of staying out of Syria and of blocking an al-Qaeda regime from replacing Assad's?