Friday, April 27, 2012

The Middle East Sampler 4/27/12: Obama And The Failure In Syria

From DG:
1) Not saving Syria

America's Syria Abdication by Fouad Ajami
The defining truth of this struggle is the abdication of the Obama administration. For a year now, American officials have skillfully run out the clock. They made much of the authority of the U.N. Security Council when any model U.N. team in any high school would have predicted the vetoes of Russia and China. It was clear that the Obama administration did not want to arm the opposition for fear of "escalating" the conflict.
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.
This wouldn't even qualify for "leading from behind."

While Syria Burns by Charles Krauthammer
Yes, we’ve imposed economic sanctions. But as with Iran, the economic squeeze has not altered the regime’s behavior. Monday’s announced travel and financial restrictions on those who use social media to track down dissidents is a pinprick. No Disney World trips for the chiefs of the Iranian and Syrian security agencies. And they might now have to park their money in Dubai instead of New York. That’ll stop ’em. 
Obama’s other major announcement — at Washington’s Holocaust Museum, no less — was the creation of an Atrocities Prevention Board. 
I kid you not. A board. Russia flies planeloads of weapons to Damascus. Iran supplies money, trainers, agents, more weapons. And what does America do? Support a feckless U.N. peace mission that does nothing to stop the killing. (Indeed, some of the civilians who met with the U.N. observers were summarily executed.) And establish an Atrocities Prevention Board. 
Syrian Psychosis by Lee Smith - about those who made Assad possible.
Vogue was not alone: Even after the onslaught kicked into full gear, plenty of journalists wanted to meet with the first family of Syria. Bob Simon’s producer at 60 Minutes wrote that the show would “be most honored to have President al Assad on our program”—honored, five months after Syrian streets started to run red with blood. 
But it’s not just journalists who lose perspective when it comes to dealing with Syrian regime. It’s also U.S. policymakers and Middle East experts. Jennifer Rubin at the Washington Post offers an important corrective to her colleague Farhi’s assertion that Washington’s foreign policy community “had long regarded Syria as a regional troublemaker and leading violator of human rights.” Wrong, Rubin counters, the best and brightest were all on the Assad bandwagon. 
From the worthies who authored the Iraq Study Group to Gen. David Petraeus, from Jim Baker to Bill Clinton, from John Kerry to Barack Obama, everyone wanted to engage Assad. What they thought was sophisticated diplomacy—convincing Assad of his true interests—amounted to nothing more than missionary work. The number of policymakers and Middle East analysts who argued against warming up to Assad—who cited his past record and identified the trail of blood that led back to his door, and who showed that the Syrian president was a serious problem and that American interests, as well as regional stability, would be best served by Assad’s demise—is so small that it couldn’t fill out the bench of an NBA team. And in any case, they were all dismissed as ideologues—like George W. Bush, who unconscionably withdrew the U.S. ambassador from Damascus after Assad was believed to have had former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri assassinated.
But as long as Kofi Annan still gets paid, all is good. 
2) Yehuda Avner's Independence Day 1948

Former Ambassador Yehuda Avner wrote of his experiences the day the modern state of Israel was founded:
Then cheers, tears, embraces. Every breast filled with exultation as we pumped hands, cuddled, kissed, in an ovation that went on and on. Nobody wanted it to stop. "Hey, Mahler!" shouted Linder cutting through the hullabaloo, "Our state - what's its name?" The violinist stared back blankly. "I don't know. I didn't think to ask." "You don't know?" Mahler shook his head. "How about Yehuda?" suggested someone. "King David's kingdom was Yehuda - Judea." "Zion," cried another. "It's an obvious choice." "Israel!" called a third.  
"What's wrong with Israel?" "Let's drink to that," said Elisha with delight, grabbing hold of a tin mug and filling it to the brim. "A lehaim to the new state, whatever its name." "Wait!" shouted a hassid whom everybody knew as Nussen der hazzan - a cantor by calling, and a most diligent volunteer digger from the ultra-Orthodox Mea Shearim Jerusalem quarter. "It's Shabbos. Kiddush first."
3) Israeli aid

Honest Reporting has put together a very nice slide show about Israel at 64, If There Were More Honest Reporting About Israel . . .

If there were more honest reporting about Israel, the world would know that Israel recently sent a delegation to Ethiopia to provide eye care ...
Using its proprietary mobile unit that encases the patient’s head in a sterile environment, Eye from Zion has already performed the 20-minute procedure on thousands of people in Asian and African countries. This time, the organization was asked by the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs to pay a visit to northern Ethiopia because so many people there are blinded by cataracts. 
Confronted with the unexpected mass of people, Eye from Zion founder Nati Marcus decided he would send no one away if he thought they could be helped. “They told us 70, and when we arrived there were 1,400 waiting for us. We sent 400 away immediately because there was nothing we could do - some even had no eyes. But we knew there were about 1,000 we could help.”
No doubt the anti-Israel cynics of the world would call this "eye washing."

If there were more honest reporting about Israel, the world would know that Israel recently committed to fighting world hunger ...
The Heads of MASHAV and of USAID signed in Washington, April 18, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to increase cooperation on food security to Africa, within the framework of USAID’s “Feed the Future” Initiative. The MOU allows for closer cooperation on the issue of food security in four countries: Uganda, Ethiopia, Tanzania and Rwanda.
Feed the Future strives to increase agricultural production and the incomes of both men and women in rural areas who rely on agriculture for their livelihoods.
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