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Daily Archives: April 29, 2011

Rubio on Syria and Obama’s lack of leadership

New Florida Senator Marco Rubio has been getting a lot of attention since he took office.   He has a piece in Foreign Policy magazine on line arguing that the US has an obligation to at least react to the massacres in Syria in a strong way.  He outlines precisely what President Obama should do:

U.S. President Barack Obama needs to make clear whose side America is on, back up our rhetoric with action, and clearly articulate why Syria matters to the United States.

Wow – he means actually lead for a change.  Rubio says at a minimum, this should happen:

Clearly, we should be on the side of the Syrian people longing for freedom and challenging the regime’s corrupt and repressive rule. Unfortunately, the Obama administration’s hesitancy to weigh in has been mistaken for indecision at best and indifference at worst. The president needs to speak directly to the Syrian people to communicate American support for their legitimate demands, condemn Assad’s murderous campaign against innocent civilians, and sternly warn Assad and his cohorts that they cannot continue grossly violating human rights, supporting terrorism, and sowing instability among Syria’s neighbors.

Of course none of it, to this point, has.  Libya, yeah, easy pickin’s, (or so it was thought), but Syria, well, that’s the land of the “reformer”, Assad and they have heavy ties with Iran (another country about which Obama was essentially silent).

Rubio also says even more stern action should happen as well:

But his words must be backed by clear, firm actions. As ill-advised as it was to restore diplomatic relations with Syria by sending an American ambassador to Damascus last year, we should now sever ties and recall the ambassador at once. While Syria is already under heavy U.S. sanctions as a designated state sponsor of terror, we should expand sanctions to include persons identified as authorizing, planning, or participating in deplorable human rights violations against unarmed civilians. Our partners in Europe, Turkey, and the Arab Gulf share many of our interests in Syria and play a large role in that country, and the president must put the full diplomatic weight of the United States behind an effort to convince them to adopt meaningful economic and diplomatic sanctions targeting Assad and his enablers in the regime.

America has an obligation to weigh in strongly about the situation in Syria. For years, its regime has aided the terrorist operations of Hezbollah and Hamas, supported Iran’s destabilizing policies, and helped terrorists kill Americans in Iraq. The regime has not only destabilized the region but also directly acted against the national security interests of the United States. We simply cannot sit silently as innocent people peacefully challenge a regime committed to undermining the United States and its allies.

Notice that Rubio hasn’t rattled a single sabre.  He’s talking about very basic first diplomatic steps – both words and action – which don’t involve military action.  Side with the oppressed, condemn the regime’s actions, withdraw the ambassador, impose sanctions, etc.   It is a regime that supports terrorists and terrorism.  How hard is this?

Apparently pretty hard when your modus operandi is to “lead from behind”.  This must be the part of that “open hand” Obama claimed he was going to offer regimes like Syria.  That’s working out well, isn’t it?

In two short years, foreign policy has gone from bad to worse – despite all the promises of how it would be so much better under the Obama administration.  Another example of talking the talk, but not being able to walk the walk.

~McQ

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Officials can call it what they want, most Americans think we’re still in a recession/depression

And like it or not, the Obama administration’s future probably depends on turning that around somehow:

The April 20-23 Gallup survey of 1,013 U.S. adults found that only 27 percent said the economy is growing. Twenty-nine percent said the economy is in a depression and 26 percent said it is in a recession, with another 16 percent saying it is "slowing down," Gallup said.

With growth slowing to 1.8% in the first quarter, those on the pessimistic side seem to have a point.

Severe winter weather, a dip in defense spending and higher energy prices all slowed the growth of gross domestic product in the January-through-March quarter.

Of course our economic experts – who’ve been so dead on all through the financial difficulties – say this is only a temporary blip and recovery should restart anytime.  But:

Leaders of the Federal Reserve, for example, said Wednesday that they expect the economy to grow 3.1 to 3.3 percent in 2011; in January their estimate was 3.4 to 3.9 percent.

Keep an eye on energy prices (which have an effect on everything we produce/buy) as a means of testing that claim.  If they stay up, which appears likely, then growth isn’t going to speed up that much.  Remember the economy needs to grow at about 2.5% annual clip to begin to expand the job markets.  Right now that isn’t happening.  And energy prices could be the drag that keeps it from happening.

Oh, and key demographic in the poll?

Fifty-seven percent of independent voters — a crucial segment of the electorate for Obama’s re-election bid — said the economy is in a recession or depression and 24 percent said it is growing.

Big job ahead to change those numbers around.   And not much time.

~McQ

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