Mideast comes unglued, Obama transfixed....
Watching the nightmare in Syria unfold, you have to ask yourself: Could the Obama administration have made a worse hash out of the situation if it had tried?
Short of an outright Iranian victory that saw the Assad regime's power fully restored, it's hard to imagine a more dire set of circumstances for U.S. interests. The Syrian state is well on its way to imploding. A multiplicity of increasingly well-armed militias are rushing to fill the vacuum. At the forefront of the fight are a growing number of radical Islamist groups, including some affiliated with al Qaeda. The prospect that Assad' s demise will be accompanied by the use (and/or proliferation) of chemical weapons and massive communal bloodletting gets higher by the day. Libya on steroids is what we're looking at, only this time not on the distant periphery of the Middle East but in its heartland, a gaping strategic wound that is likely to threaten the stability and wellbeing of Syria's five neighbors -- critical American partners all -- for years to come.
Does it require saying that it need not have been this way? That with sustained American leadership over the past 21 months the most threatening aspects of this crisis could not only have been seriously mitigated, but U.S. interests significantly advanced?
All of which has left us here, confronting an oncoming train wreck of well-armed Islamists, battle-hardened and thirsty for power and revenge on the one hand, and a crumbling, desperate dictatorship on the other, its hands drenched in the blood of its own people and sitting on top of the Middle East's largest arsenal of chemical weapons.
Belatedly, it seems to have dawned on the administration that simply sitting on the sidelines, allowing events to play out while hoping for the best might not accrue to U.S. interests, and could well prove catastrophic. But having waited so long to act, the window of opportunity that was once available for shaping an outcome consistent with U.S. concerns has narrowed considerably, if not closed. A popular movement whose core once clamored for Western leadership and intervention has grown increasingly embittered and resentful at what they perceive to be their near total abandonment by Washington. With more than 40,000 corpses underfoot, frantic 11th-hour moves by the U.S. to mobilize a coherent political opposition, establish influence with armed groups, and marginalize extremist militias like Jabhat al-Nusra that have carried a major brunt of the fighting are widely viewed with a mixture of suspicion and contempt -- not just too little too late, but part of some larger conspiracy to abort the revolution's victory over Assad just as it comes into view.
For its part, Israel is building a 43-mile fence to keep unwanted Syrian & Lebanese immigration at bay. Which underscores anew the wisdom of Menachem Begin's annexation of the Golan (Dec. 14, 1981), a move not recognized outside Israel but necessary for Israel's security.
So inaction begets rising instability, as America's hitherto stabilizing influence wanes. We face four more years of this under a re-elected president who continues to obsess over the one conflict that is utterly marginal to Mideast evolution, the Arab-Israeli stalemate, which is guaranteed by Palestinian intransigence. In that one, Jonathan Schanzer warns, Hamas is likely to emerge supreme among Palestinian factions. Israel's latest housing moves in Jerusalem will create facts on the ground that will prevent Arab fragmenting of the capital of Israel.
Citing Palestinian polls showing popular support for armed struggle v. Israel, Jennifer Rubin explains why the "peace process" that had mesmerized Western leaders is utterly moribund. It always was: Yasser Arafat's widow has publicly admitted that her deceased husband planned to launch the 2000 uprising long before Ariel Sharon's Temple Mount visit purportedly triggered the violence. As recounted in The Daily Caller:
“Yasser Arafat had made a decision to launch the intifada,” she told Dubai TV on Dec. 16, according to a translation by the Middle East Media Research Institute.
“Immediately after the failure of the Camp David [negotiations], I met him in Paris upon his return. … Camp David has failed, and he said to me: ‘You should remain in Paris.’ I asked him why, and he said: ‘Because I am going to start an intifada. They want me to betray the Palestinian cause. They want me to give up on our principles, and I will not do so.’”
Bottom Line. The president's Mideast designs are coming apart before our very eyes, while he & his administration persist in policies overtaken by events.Letter from the Capitol, LFTC, National Security, Foreign Policy, WMD, Conservative Politics