Syria and Obama’s ‘Lead from Behind’ Doctrine

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In response to the statement by the US and European nations, the Syrian foreign ministry accused the US of waging “diplomatic war” by imposing sanctions and calling for Assad’s ouster. The ministry said that the administration’s statement sends “the wrong message to the terrorist armed groups that they are under American and Western protection.” Syria contends that Israel and the West are behind the uprising, aided by al-Qaeda fighters.

Be that as it may, the UN appears finally ready to spring into action following some brazen lies President Assad told to General Secretary Ban Ki-moon. In response to the UN chief’s demand to halt the slaughter, Assad informed Ban that his army and police assaults had “stopped.” Meanwhile, his gunboats proceeded to fire on demonstrators in the coastal city of Latakia, and Syrian tanks opened up on protesters in Hama. Human rights activists on the scene said that at least 20 protesters were killed as Assad was claiming to Ban that he had halted military assaults.

The Security Council met late Thursday to determine sanctions against Syria, although there is still opposition from Brazil, China, Russia, India, and South Africa, who inexplicably believe that Assad should be given more time to “reform.” Whether the statements from the US, the EU, and some Arab states calling on Assad to step down will have any effect on this opposition remains to be seen.

The Security Council is also going to meet sometime next week to consider a report from the UN Human Rights Council that accuses the Assad regime of crimes against humanity committed during the crackdown. An emergency meeting of the rights council is scheduled for Monday where it is expected to recommend that the Security Council refer Syria to the International Criminal Court.

The document is striking in its detail. The 22-page report listed the names of 1,900 Syrian civilians killed by security forces, including 353 civilians who were summarily executed.

The Washington Post blog, Checkpoint Washington, reports:

The report documents a chilling catalogue of alleged state crimes as Syrian security forces, joined by ethnic Alawite militia, known as the Shabbiha, laid siege to restive town after town, shelling civilians with tank, artillery and helicopter fire, and picking off unarmed civilians, including children, with sniper fire as they left their homes in search of food. Syrian soldiers who refused order to kill civilians were themselves executed, according to the accounts.

Survivors told of their harrowing ordeals that included “physical torture, unlawful arrest, deprivation of basic services, including water and medicine, and ‘routine humiliation.'” It was also “widely reported that forces conducted regular raids in hospitals to search for and kill injured demonstrators.” Snipers also targeted people “providing medical assistance to victims.”

One massacre occurred in the coastal town of Latakia when 26 detainees were marched to a sports stadium, blindfolded, and summarily executed.

The report concluded: “The mission found a pattern of human rights violations that constitutes widespread or systematic attacks against the civilian population, which may amount to crimes against humanity.”

The Human Rights Council report highlights the moral shortcomings of the president’s “lead from behind” foreign policy. While the West dithered and delayed looking for leadership in the crisis, Bashar Assad brutalized his own people, carrying out a virtual war against civilians who dared defy him. The massacres that took place were not a secret. The Local Coordination Councils in Syria carefully documented the slaughter and gave their evidence to the world via social media and other outlets. Human rights observers also documented the atrocities while pleading with Western governments to take action to stop them.

The reaction to events in Syria by the United States has not been in keeping with our values, or our historic role as a moral leader in the world. If anything, it demonstrates the utter bankruptcy of a foreign policy more concerned with not getting the rest of the world upset at us for standing up for what we believe, rather than showing the world its moral duty in confronting evil.

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  • Micah

    One should not rush into war. Reason and patience are virtues. Perhaps you would like a repeat of Iraq.

  • Tony

    Why is it when a Democrat says, "Members of both parties believed that (Assad was a reformer)" is different than Republicans saying "Member of both parties believed that (Hussein has WMDs)." ?

  • Flipside

    Michael Ledeen is not simply an “analyst.” He is an Iran-Contra criminal and forger, a professional manufacturer of casus belli. Clearly, for Rick Moran, the USA has not declared war on enough of Israel’s enemies yet. Maybe Ledeen can discover some Yellow Cake in Syria too.

    • MixMChess

      You do realize that Israel (Ariel Sharon himself) advised America (Bush Government) AGAINST the invasion into Iraq and strongly cautioned America in its mission in Afghanistan?

      Of course, your accusation that Jews are behind another country's war is not at all original or new. The same allegations were made concerning Jews before the second and first world wars. This accusation was used to justify Russian pogroms and the Nazi Holocaust. Recall, war against Iraq has been a policy suggested by members of the Bush administration since the mid-nineties. To accuse Jews of instigating war is, frankly, anti-Semitic.

      • Flipside

        It may come as news to you, but Ariel Sharon does not represent all Jews in the world. Consider Benjamin Netanyahu, Richard Perle, James Colbert, Charles Fairbanks, Jr., Douglas Feith, Robert Loewenberg, David Wurmser, and Meyrav Wurmser, and the members if the American neocon press.

        • MixMChess

          "It may come as news to you, but Ariel Sharon does not represent all Jews in the world."

          No kidding, and nearly all Israeli Jews and over 80% of American Jews vehemently rejected the Iraq Invasion.

          Of course, the Bush administration had strong-minded leaders who developed a conservative, hawkish foreign policy and sought to invade Iraq since the 1990's. As Norman Podheretz points out you are believing the unbelievable:

          "…that strong-minded people like Bush, Rumsfeld, Cheney, and Rice could be fooled by a bunch of cunning subordinates, whether Jewish or not, into doing anything at all against their better judgment, let alone something so momentous as waging a war, let alone a war in which they could detect no clear relation to American interests."

          As even anti-Israel advocate Steve Zunes points out "there are far more powerful interests with a stake in what happens in the Persian Gulf region" than Jews and Israel. These include "the oil companies, the arms industry, and other special interests whose lobbying influence and campaign contributions far surpass that of the much-vaunted "Jewish lobby" and its allied donors to congressional races. Indeed, U.S. interests in the oil-rich states of the Persian Gulf have existed for many decades and even pre-dates the establishment of modern Israel."

          You're peddling the `Protocols of the Elders of Zion' all over again.

          • Flipside

            B.S. Do you think the neocon coup d’etat is so far into the past that America has forgotten the names and ethnicities of its members?

  • Fred Dawes

    If people stood up against the Obama government you would see the Tanks and death in our streets and our cities would look like a sea of blood, let us not get into a hopeless war.

  • tomsextoyshop

    One should not rush into war. Reason and patience are virtues. Perhaps you would like a repeat of Iraq.