On Wednesday, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad spoke to the Syrian Parliament and declared that the current unrest in his country was the result of some unspecified "big conspiracy." Assad repeated the claim that he is a reformer and modernizer while promising to crush the protesters. "If a battle is imposed on us today, we welcome it," said Assad. Expectations that Assad would deliver on promises for concessions to the protesters were sadly disappointed.
After years of Western intellectuals and left wing politicians believing Assad to be a true reformer, the real Assad was unveiled Wednesday. Years of willful ignorance and delusion on the part of those Western elites was stripped away. But it's unlikely members of those elites will admit they were wrong.
How Did We Get Here?
To be fair, the current situation is not all Obama's fault. He had help in adopting a delusional outlook regarding Syria. In April 2007 then House Speaker Nancy Pelosi made a high profile visit to Damascus and met with Assad. The Bush Administration had attempted to isolate Assad for Syria's role in permitting Al Queda fighters to enter Iraq to kill Americans and the key part Syria played in supplying arms for Hezbollah fighters in Lebanon enabling them to attack Israel.
But Speaker Pelosi swept all that aside for the sake of a photo op with Assad. Speaking of the visit, one Syrian resident said that "This is the best thing that has happened here, if it proves [Mr. Assad] was right not to give concessions" to the Americans.
What were those concessions?
•The United States has long sought to get Syria to stop being a state sponsor of terrorism. Syria has been on the State Department's State Sponsors of Terrorism list since 1979.
•The United States, working with the United Nations has demanded Syria cooperate with the international investigation into the death of Lebanese Lebanese leader Rafik Hariri.
•Syria helped arm Hezbollah in it's war against innocent civilians in Israel in 2006 and insists it will continue to support both Hezbollah and Hamas.
•90% of suicide bombers entering Iraq do so from Syria according to the U.S. State Department.
Worse still was the negative impact Pelosi's visit had on democracy activists:
“Pelosi’s visit made the regime feel that Americans were divided on how to deal with Syria,” said a Damascus-based women’s-rights activist who, like five other activists interviewed for this article, asked that his name be withheld because he feared punishment. “This sends a message to the regime that the pressure is off, that it can do what it likes.”Well, after Obama's inauguration, the U.S. government was no longer divided on how to deal with Syria. Instead of using U.S. power in a carrot and stick approach, Obama threw away the stick and tried the all carrot approach. In his Inaugural Address Obama said: "We will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist." We extended the hand and Assad gave us the finger!
Obama lifted economic sanctions on Syria but that was just the beginning. Sen. John F. Kerry, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee made the first high profile visit of the Obama years to Syria in February 2009. A month later Obama's Syrian Spring went into high gear with a VIP delegation sent by Obama and Hillary Clinton. The message was clear, the hand of friendship had been extended.
Assad made all the right noises and his plan to hoodwink gullible American leftists was on track. Just look at the gushy piece written by Seymour Hersh at the New Yorker who proudly brags that he and Assad are email buddies:
A major change in American policy toward Syria is clearly under way. “The return of the Golan Heights is part of a broader strategy for peace in the Middle East that includes countering Iran’s influence,” Martin Indyk, a former American Ambassador to Israel, who is now the director of the Saban Center for Middle East Policy, at the Brookings Institution, said. “Syria is a strategic linchpin for dealing with Iran and the Palestinian issue. Don’t forget, everything in the Middle East is connected, as Obama once said.”In short, the goal of the Syrians was to use this new relationship with Washington to put pressure on Israel. And Syria got what it wanted. Obama's behavior towards Israel has been nothing less than antagonistic.
In February 2010 The Obama Administration threw Syria another bone by returning a U.S. Ambassador. The previous Ambassador had been recalled after Syria's role in the assassination of Lebanon's former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri became known. What did we get for all our efforts? A slap in the face.
Last month, five years exactly after the scolding of the Bush Administration, President Obama nominated Robert Ford as the new U.S. Ambassador to Syria. The rationale of the current U.S. administration is that Assad can be sweet-talked into trading his alliance with Iran for a deal with America. Obama’s gamble has produced immediate results, but not the expected ones. Shortly after the nomination of Ambassador Ford, Ahmadinejad paid an official and pompous visit to Damascus (where he also met with Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah). Baffled, Hillary Clinton asked Assad why he was doing the opposite of what her government’s policy was supposed to produce. Assad responded as follows: “We have a hard time understanding Clinton, either because of a translation problem or because of our limited capabilities.” Hillary Clinton is being pushed around by Middle Eastern machos and America is being ridiculed.
|Ahmadinejad, Assad and Nasrallah|
in Damascus February 2010.
In October 2010 Assad followed up the Damascus summit with a visit to Tehran where he declared "the continuing and eternal stance of Syria to be on the side of Iran."
What was the Obama and the Democrat's reaction to these events? A new reward for Assad with another high profile visit by Sen. Kerry in November 2010.
And as the Syrian government murders it's citizens in the streets, Hillary Clinton declared last Sunday that "members of the U.S. Congress from both parties say they believe Assad is “a reformer.” I'm not sure who she is talking about on the GOP side of the aisle, but I have a good idea that Sen. John Kerry still has the wool pulled over his eyes.
Kerry delivered a speech on March 16 at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. In a wide ranging discussion of the Arab uprising he never mentioned Syria.
When Kerry was asked about Syria during a question-and-answer session afterwards, he voiced optimism about the direction relations were taking.Kerry who pushed strongly for U.S. intervention in Libya has been hoodwinked by Assad. How long will he ignore news reports such as this?
“I have been a believer for some period of time that we could make progress in that relationship,” he said. “And I’m going to continue to work for it and push it.”
Even before the latest violence in Syria began, Martin Peretz of the New Republic, in a piece titled "Obama Courted Iran. Obama Courted Syria. Obama Achieved Nothing" Peretz concludes:
Almost nobody notices the disasters of U.S. policy outside our borders because the disasters within our borders are so climactic. One of the president's most ambitious ventures was to bring Syria to heel. He sent many emissaries to Dr. Assad. Their visits all flopped.Obama's humilitation is nothing compared to the deaths of so many innocent Syrians and others who have died as a result of his unwillingness to see the world for the dangerous and evil place that it is!
But Obama is still pressing Israel to leave the Golan Heights, and Secretary Clinton is trying get Syria to soften the views of the Palestinians. The president and the secretary of state don't recognize failure. So they court more humiliation.