Jim Geraghty in the Morning Jolt.
This column, by Roger Cohen of the New York Times and International Herald Tribune, has garnered a bit of attention in recent days:
The United States does not want to get dragged into another intractable Middle Eastern conflict. Americans are tired of war. My colleagues Michael Gordon and Mark Landler have revealed how Obama blocked an attempt last summer by Hillary Clinton to train and supply weapons to selected Syrian rebel groups.
Nor does Obama want to find himself in the business of helping Islamist extremists inherit a Syrian vacuum. The opposition coalition is divided and lacks credibility. But the net result of these concerns cannot be feckless drift as Syria burns. Senator John McCain was right to say here that, “We should be ashamed of our collective failure to come to the aid of the Syrian people” and to answer a question about how to break the impasse with two words: “American leadership.”
An inflection point has been reached. Inaction spurs the progressive radicalization of Syria, the further disintegration of the state, the intensification of Assad’s mass killings, and the chances of the conflict spilling out of Syria in sectarian mayhem. It squanders an opportunity to weaken Iran. This is not in the West’s interest. The agreement that Assad has to go is broad; a tacit understanding that it is inevitable exists in Moscow. The Turkish foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, spluttered in justified incredulity at the notion the opposition would sit down with a regime that has slaughtered its own.
It is time to alter the Syrian balance of power enough to give political compromise a chance and Assad no option but departure. That means an aggressive program to train and arm the Free Syrian Army. It also means McCain’s call to use U.S. cruise missiles to destroy Assad’s aircraft on the runway is daily more persuasive.
Everybody knows we’re not going to intervene in Syria, right?
Part of this is because we have Obama as president, part of this is because Americans consumed with our own domestic issues right now — a consistently floundering economy, immigration — but mostly it’s because of Iraq.
Dear world . . . do you remember how you greeted the invasion of Iraq?
The invasion of Iraq was treated as the greatest crime against humanity in the history of the world, denounced far more frequently and loudly than any act by Saddam Hussein, Bashar Assad, the Iranian regime, or North Korea.
Giant protests in lots of American cities. Giant protests in every foreign capital. The 2004 Guinness Book of Records described the anti-war movement around the globe as the largest mass protest movement in history — eclipsing any popular opposition to any act of the Soviet Union or any other totalitarian regime around the globe, ever. Among the elites in Paris, Berlin, and most corners of London, the Iraq War was the single-most important issue, and denouncing the evil of George W. Bush was the most important goal, not building a stable and peaceful Iraq. You recall Kofi Annan denouncing it, and the United Nations delegates scoffing when Hugo Chavez called our president the devil.
You recall the cries of “Bushitler,” the ubiquitous Code Pink interrupting every event in Washington, as if some ninny shouting during a press conference ever spurred sudden reversals in U.S. national security policy. You recall Hollywood’s relentless cavalcade of movies demonizing the war and those fighting it: In the Valley of Elah, Stop Loss, Green Zone, Redacted, Grace is Gone, Fahrenheit 9/11.
Hey, my Turkish friends so upset by a bloody civil war across the border and a flood of refugees, remember Valley of the Wolves: Iraq? Remember when that film suggested that Jewish U.S. army doctors in Iraq were harvesting organs from Iraqi civilians to be sold in Israel, and that U.S. soldiers use Iraqi children as human shields? Yeah, remember that? Well, go solve your #*%&^ border problems yourself.
The Davos set is horrified to learn that after spending the better part of a decade screaming at the top of their lungs that an American intervention to topple a bloodthirsty Arab dictator is the absolute worst thing imaginable, suddenly Americans are no longer interested in toppling bloodthirsty Arab dictators.
(Slap, slap) Wake up, anti-war movement! You’ve got what you wanted! The United States is out of the armed intervention business, besides the occasional “leading from behind” in Libya, or the occasional covert mission in Pakistan.
And this is what you get:
The United Nations said earlier this month that more than 60,000 people had been killed during the 22-month-old revolt against President Bashar al-Assad. This figure was based on 59,648 individuals reported killed in Syria between March 15, 2011 and November 30, 2012.
The U.N. refugee agency UNHCR said on Monday that the number of Syrian refugees and individuals awaiting registration is 714,118. This includes 5,417 Syrian refugees registered in North Africa.
The UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs estimated in a report on January 17 that 4 million people were in need of humanitarian assistance across all 14 governorates in Syria. Of the total, 3 million lacked food and 2 million were internally displaced.
But wait, there’s more!
Outbreaks of hepatitis A and other diseases spread by poor hygiene are now becoming problems among Syrians displaced by the civil war, the World Health Organization said Tuesday. It is one of at least four United Nations agencies seeking to add a new sense of urgency to the humanitarian crisis afflicting the country.
Further aggravating the health of Syrians, the organization said, is a breakdown in the delivery of safe water throughout the country; the closing of at least one-third of Syria’s public hospitals; an exodus of doctors; and an acute shortage of ambulances, many of them damaged by fighting or impounded by the military or insurgent forces for use in combat.
But don’t worry, world. We may not be using our military force to influence the events in Syria, but we are taking action:
President Barack Obama released a video statement to the Syrian people attesting to the U.S. commitment to their humanitarian needs amid fresh reports of civilian killings by the Assad regime.
The three-minute video with Arabic subtitles was circulated today by the White House in connection with a U.S. announcement of $155 million in new humanitarian assistance to Syria. The move comes days after Obama indicated in an interview no move toward U.S. military intervention.
“The relief we send doesn’t say ‘made in America’ but make no mistake, our aid reflects the commitment of the American people,” Obama says in the statement.
I’m sure everyone in the civil-war zone will appreciate that video statement.
Hate our quasi-isolationist policy, world elites, but don’t be surprised by it. We’re just giving you what you demanded. Maybe in a generation, we’ll be interested in intervening abroad again.