Obama must do something tangible for Syria
February 8th, 2012
03:02 PM ET

Obama must do something tangible for Syria

Editor’s Note: Danielle Pletka is the vice president for foreign and defense policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank based in Washington, DC. Before joining AEI, she served for ten years as a senior professional staff member for the Near East and South Asia on the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. The views expressed in this article are solely those of Danielle Pletka.

By Danielle Pletka – Special to CNN

Obama administration officials have labeled the United Nations’ failure to act on Syria as “outrageous” and a “travesty”.  But that’s about all they’ve done about Syrian dictator Basher el Assad’s wanton murder of thousands of innocent Syrians.

Meanwhile, in the wake of the failure of last weekend’s weak Security Council resolution, more than 400 Syrians were killed in ruthless assaults.  They had nowhere to run, nowhere to hide.  Syrian opposition leaders have begged the international community to act, to do more than convene in contact groups and make rounds on the diplomatic circuit.  But their begging has fallen on deaf ears.

Why care about Syria?

Let’s again rehearse the simple reasons:

– Syria is the soft underbelly of Iran, Tehran’s most important ally, conduit for arms and cash to terrorists.

– Syria has been home to and sponsor of terrorists that have killed American soldiers and non-combatants in Iraq, in Lebanon, in Israel, in the West Bank and more.

– Syria was likely behind the murder of the former Prime Minister of Lebanon, an act for which it has paid no price

– Syria has been the godfather to Iran’s terrorist creature, Hezbollah, which has degraded and exploited the Lebanese state (among many other sins).

-Syria’s despotic government has murdered thousands of its own people and will continue to do so until Bashar al-Assad has secured once again his dominion over the Syrian people.

A unique confluence of American moral purpose and America’s strategic interest argue for intervention in Syria. It’s time to do something tangible.

It’s time to start arming the Free Syrian Army, convening the disparate factions of the Syrian opposition and coaching them toward an interim government. It’s time to create safe zones along the border with Turkey and humanitarian corridors to get there.  It’s time to protect those corridors from the air with a limited no-fly zone and establish safe cities.  And it’s time to do all that without benefit of a Security Council resolution, because let’s admit it, the Security Council’s moral authority is nil with Russia and China in permanent seats.

It’s time to begin to work with Turkey and coax the Islamist Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan into a position as moral leader in his region.   He may be taking Turkey down a dangerous path, but at the moment, he’s willing to do the right thing on Syria.  Let’s double down on that.

It’s in the U.S. interest; it’s also in Israel’s interest, and worth their while to arrange themselves on the side of Turkey and the Arab League against the loathsome al-Assad.  That doesn’t mean coming out publicly and intervening in Arab affairs, but it does mean beginning to have quiet talks behind the scenes with interested parties.  Indeed, it is fascinating that Israel, which has found itself in weird concert with the Arabs on Libya, Iran and Syria, has failed to exploit that position to improve its regional relations in any way.  One might almost think Israel an indifferent observer to ouster of al-Assad, a sworn enemy.

Syria will have a post-Assad future.  That future could be in the hands of Qatari backed Salafis, Saudi-backed Islamists, or the Western world could have a say.  Sitting on the sidelines will ensure that we have as little as possible.

Here is what President Barack Obama said about Libya in May of last year:

“To brush aside America's responsibility as a leader and – more profoundly – our responsibilities to our fellow human beings under such circumstances would have been a betrayal of who we are. Some nations may be able to turn a blind eye to atrocities in other countries. The United States of America is different. And as president, I refused to wait for the images of slaughter and mass graves before taking action."

How does Syria not meet that standard?  For shame on Obama for his hypocrisy, his indifference, and his abdication of American moral and strategic leadership.

The views expressed in this article are solely those of Danielle Pletka.

Post by:
Topics: Middle East • Syria

soundoff (544 Responses)
  1. soga

    Am no American but I believe this view expressed by Danielle Pletka is absolutely ludicrous. So much more you condemn Obama for not taking action on Syria. I doubt if you have the slightest idea what international diplomacy means. You authoritatively suggest that the West is wasting time siting round the table dialoguing while thousands of lives are been slaughtered. This is not a Mussollini or Hiltler ear where despots would wake up one day and decide to occupy another country. This is why the UN was founded. Hence, when you understand that, clean your dirty mouth before you come back and we would consider your opinion. I can bet you are there living in the US as one of it's citizens once a refugee of a war-torn country, yet you have the effrontery to talk bad of that Great Nation. Doubt you also know the story of how Americans saved Iran from the hands of Iraq and the consequent betrayal by same Iran who is now developing nuclear war heads, biting the American fingers that saved them from eternal destruction. Please next time share your opinion with your family in your bedroom and give people with intellectual capability and unbiased minds space to share their opinion on this platform.


    February 15, 2012 at 9:42 am | Reply
  2. bill

    the usa has enough problems @home to take care of, let the other countries fend for themselves for a change
    if we send money ,the people that really need it don't get any

    February 15, 2012 at 11:53 am | Reply
  3. Leader2050

    Solution :
    aerial bombardment for two weeks to destroy the military power of Bashar al-Assad to stop massacres .

    February 15, 2012 at 10:26 pm | Reply
    • Tahir

      We all know very well the Americans like bombing and blood. It first triggers revolts against Governments who are not US puppets and then pretend to help people in the name of democracy to kill more people with the suggestions of the people of your mentality.

      February 16, 2012 at 9:33 am | Reply
  4. Tahir

    No one except these three countries (USA, England and France) themselves believe that these are democratic countries with veto right at UN.They make people fool in the name of democracy to get their own benefits.They will never leave this right so that democracy can prevail.Be careful of their democracy slogans.

    February 16, 2012 at 10:06 am | Reply

    Thaier Souri
    لقد أثبتت روسيا أنها بلد محكوم بمجموعات مافيوية لا يعنيها من أمر البشر الا مقدار ما تجققه من مكاسب, و أثبتت أن لا منظومة أخلاقية تحكمها و ربما تحكم شعبها, و ربما كانت هذه خطوة أخرى حاسمة في انحسار الدور السوفييتي السابق الذي اضمحل الى حجم روسيا و لا ندري الى ماذا سيضمحل لاحقا, و كل ذلك بسبب غياب الركيزة الخلقية الداعمة للمواقف المعلنة أو الغير معلنة

    73 MOURAD
    روسيا و الصين تشعران بتواطؤ اوروبي امريكي يهدد مصالحهما الاقتصادية

    72 عفوا سوريا ومعذرة
    النظام السوري وما يرتكبه من مجازر بحق شرفاء سوريا الشام العظيم ما هو الا الفساد والبطش بعينه وما هو الا للحفاظ على مصالح فردية لفئة علوية طغت وتجبرت وتقمصت دور الممانعة والقومية العربية وهي تلك الفئةهي التخاذل والجبن متمثل على وجه الخصوص بشخص بشار الاسف وزبانيته. شلت يمينك يا من تطلق القذائف والقنابل على شعب حمص الاعزل ودرعا وريف دمشق ودير الزور فوالله رجالهم رجال ونساؤهم خير الحرائر . الله على ظالم جبان

    71 الفجر

    يا لها من مهزلة يا جماعة كل هذه الجرائم منذو ١١ شهرا انتهت بكلمة في الجمعية العامة بادانة .هدفهم جعل من سوريا صومالا اخر.على فكر هل اسرائيل ايضا نددت ام كانت مع...سعودية تصيغ القرارات ومصر توزعه وروسيا تعدل بالقرارات والمعارضة الخارجية مشغلون برئاسة المجلس الوطني والشعب يقتل على يد من لا احد يعرف

    70 ليث
    لافروف زود عميله بشار بالاسلحه وهو والصين يديرون عمليات قتل الشعب السوري وبشهود احد الضباظ المنشقين..روسيا اصبحت في الجانب المخزي من التاريخ ..ولافروف يتحجج يالقاعده وكانه القذافي ..لا ينقصه الا ان يصيح ..زنكه زنكه دار دار..بس يقوله بالروسي مافي مشكله المترجم موجود.

    69 عربي حر
    اعرفوا يا عرب ويا مسلمين ان نظام السوري ونظام الحاكم في ايران وحزب الله واسرائيل هي جميعا اوجه لعمله واحده افهموووووووووووووووووو

    68 سوري
    كم اكره اي انسان يقول سوريه الاسد يا اخي دوله كامله تربط بشسخص يوجد في سوريه امكانات رهيبه وسوريه لجميع الطوائف والاديان الذي يقول ذلك هو انسان لايعيش الا ياكل او امي حتى ولو كان متعلما

    February 16, 2012 at 11:03 am | Reply


    February 16, 2012 at 4:57 pm | Reply
  7. FK ALI


    February 16, 2012 at 4:58 pm | Reply
    • Tahir

      Don"t show us your real American face we already know your real face as a killer in a name of democracy for your interests.

      February 17, 2012 at 4:24 am | Reply
  8. JM

    western intervention in Muslim countries simply does not work,the only way they work is the 91 Gulf War model,get in,crush the enemy,get out,leave it to who ever to pick up the peices. or the initial 2001 Afhanistan model,arm youre enemies enemy,and let them cut them out,with close air support. Occupations only give the terroists time to turn public opinion against you. Just like on here,Al-Queida claimed responsibility for the majority of the civilian casulties in Iraq,but you still have misinformation spreaders saying that "American slaughtered hundreds of thousands of people in Afgh and Iraq",that is our thanks for our sacrifices!!!

    Somolia and Iraq tell us we cant win when we try to help muslims,Afghanistan was not intervention,it was a search for retribution and justice,is the right of a sovern nation to return fire when it is attacked,although in hindsight we should have been lookin in Pakistan all along,how much do you want to bet that Pakastani Troops escorted Osama and is entourouge out of Tora Bora,to his new house they built for him in Pakistan. But anyway,moving on.

    we didnt intervene in Iran in 09,or in Georgia in 06 when Russia attacked them to demonstrate the penalty for trying to join NATO,and we are in worse financial and domestic shape now!!,and another war would put us in the same economical shape has the USSR was right before it collapsed!!,and even though we couldnt afford it,the draft would have to be renacted to increase the size of our military to late WW2 numbers!!!

    it all boils down to this, you dont run off to help youre neighbor put out a grease fire,when youre own house is burning down!!

    and if you must have intervention,Look at all the tragedy and suffering that the drug lords are inflicting right next door in Mexico,I bet they would be surprised to see US Marines taking the place of the Border Patrol. An intervention in Mexico would effect the immigration problem(they wouldnt cross illegally if they had jobs and security at home),and give the US a more stable ally,not to mention make it safer for US college students to travel to cancun without the risk of being kidnapped for ransom.

    February 17, 2012 at 3:23 am | Reply
    • Tahir

      What do you mean by intervention.Going there and crushing them according to you is not an intervention. What an analysis. You look a real American fool.

      February 17, 2012 at 4:21 am | Reply
  9. WALEED From Syria - Damascus

    We are here in Syria suffring from the terrorests and armed opposits
    and we bilieve that we can solv our internal matters by the syrianpeople
    we don't need any interfere
    keep away Obama

    February 17, 2012 at 5:01 am | Reply
  10. Anas

    If there was oil in Syria like Iraq then USA and the NATO will care about the Syrian people and democracy.
    USA doesn't do any thing to save the lives of the innocent Syrians who are killed every day by the Syrian regime; because Israel wants Assad to stay.
    Shame on all civilized world who witness the killing of children without trying to stop the criminals.
    Assad should go now before he leads the region to civil war.

    February 17, 2012 at 5:29 am | Reply
    • Tahir

      Civilized world ?? Have you forgotten how many innocent people and children were killed in Iraq due to US Bombing and even due to the sanctions before Bush Jr attacked Iraq. Shame on you for using civilized world for the west. Fighting against your Government is a terrorist activity, remember prophet Mohammed never fought to people of Mecca when he was living in Mecca in early days. If you are living in a country you cannot take weapons in hand. Wall street protesters will also face the same fate as faced by Syrians anti government terrorists if they take weapons in hand.

      February 17, 2012 at 7:48 am | Reply
  11. Anas

    USA and Nato should support the free National Syrian army against the Syrian regime.

    February 17, 2012 at 5:34 am | Reply
  12. Bobby Lightening

    hola, que paso? estoy muy bien :) yo como muchos tacos, te gustan tacos? me gusto tacos ;)

    February 17, 2012 at 8:59 am | Reply
  13. abonamente it

    I have read some good stuff here. Certainly worth bookmarking for revisiting. I surprise how much effort you place to create the sort of wonderful informative web site.

    July 23, 2012 at 3:36 am | Reply
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