Free Markets, Free People

Syria


Why Libya’s precedent is dangerous

I talked about it yesterday, but to reiterate, this is an action blessed by the UN and Arab League – and no one else.  But there are those among our leadership who see it as a precedent to pretty much do whatever we want under the principle espoused by the UN – “Right to Protect” or R2P.  This new “principle”, according to Ban Ki-Moon, Secretary General of the UN, gives the UN the “right” to go after governments that are killing their own citizens.    And not just with aircraft (something Sec. of State Clinton used to differentiate what was happening in Libya and Syria as an excuse not to move on Syria).

To illustrate my point, one only has to go to the Sunday shows for an example:

Sen. Joe Lieberman, a Connecticut independent, said the events transpiring in Libya should send a strong message to the Syrian dictator.

“If he turns his weapons on his own people, he runs the risk,” Mr. Lieberman said on “Fox News Sunday.”

“There is a precedent now. … We’re not going to allow Assad to slaughter his own people.”

Of course my first question is “who is ‘we’, Mr. Lieberman?”

In the case of Libya, certainly not the American people.  They were never consulted (though their representatives).  If ever there was a unilateral decision to go to war, this provides the example.

Secondly, this is precisely what the Neo-cons were accused of championing – and it now seems it has evolved as a policy of the Obama administration.  The irony is incredible.  Especially after we saw the same administration pretend like the slaughter of protesters in Iran by the government was something to essentially ignore.

And I can’t help but observe that this smacks of more than anything is international bullying.   Pick on a weak country that displeases others for whatever reason, come up with a high sounding reason to intervene and go to war.  Who you are backing and what they are or stand for isn’t as much of a priority as establishing the precedent of the “right” to act internationally without worrying about those pesky legal impediments such as Constitutions and such.   But if the country is strong militarily or has supporters in the region (Syria and the Arab League), make excuses for not applying the same standard to them. That’s precisely what we’re seeing with Syria.

One of the laugh out loud reasons for not applying the same standard to Syria was Clinton’s contention that the Syrian dictator Assad is a “reformer”.

That had the Syrian protesters shaking their head in wonder.

Ammar Abdulhamid, who has emerged as an unofficial spokesman in the West for the activists organizing the Syrian protests, said, however, that Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton was wrong to refer to Syrian President Bashar Assad as a reformer on CBS News on Sunday.

“It was ridiculous to call Bashar Assad a reformer. She should not have done that,” he said.

I’m reminded of Secretary of Defense Robert Gates recent speech at West Point where he said that any president who committed us to another war in the Middle East should have his head examined.  

Frankly, I agree.  The unfortunate thing is this “precedent” as Joe Lieberman correctly identifies it, sets us up to commit to an unlimited number of wars in the Middle East and elsewhere – just so we manage to get a sanction of some sort of NGO or another in the process.   We’re officially in the “others volunteering our military” business, the “world policeman’s league” with this action  – and as I understood it that was something Democrats and left objected too strenuously.

What happened to that?

~McQ


The “Obama Doctrine?

It sort of works out like this – if you’re Libya, look out but if you’re Iran or China, don’t worry about it.  Allahpundit explains:

Via Greg Hengler, it’s simple as can be. If (1) there’s a preventable humanitarian crisis looming and (2) the benefits of intervention outweigh the costs and (3) there’s international support for intervening, then “go for it.” Question: What if (1) and (2) are satisfied but not (3)? Just … let ‘em die, then?

For instance, how about Syria?

At least 10 people have been killed and dozens wounded after Syrian police opened fire on people protesting against the deaths of anti-government demonstrators in Deraa, witnesses say.

Hundreds of youths from nearby villages were shot at when they tried to march into the centre of the southern city.

A Syrian human rights activist told the BBC that at least 37 had died.

Troops also reportedly shot at people attending the funerals of six people killed in a raid on a mosque overnight.

Why that sounds almost exactly like things that happened in Libya prior to the international coalition finally taking action.  Again, just as in Libya, we have “civilians” being killed by their government.

Time to apply the Obama Doctrine?   Is that crickets I hear?

If you think that I’m making this up – about the Obama Doctrine that is – here’s Andrea Mitchell to explain it to you:

 

So who gets the full Monty and what popular uprising gets ignored by the doctrine? We know Iran gets a free pass.  And apparently so does Syria.  Who else? 

~McQ


Why Turkey’s change of attitude toward Israel is important and could be ominous

Someone apparently had an extra bowl of Cheerios this morning:

Syrian President Bashar Assad said Israel’s attack on the Gaza aid flotilla has increased the chances of war in the Middle East, in a BBC interview on Wednesday. Assad said that Syria was working to prevent a regional war but he added that there was no chance of a peace deal with the current Israeli administration, which he called a “pyromaniac government”.

The rhetoric keeps ratcheting up as if various Arab factions are trying to talk themselves into testing Israel again. It’s been a while, but the in the past the results have been uniformly bad for the Arab nations.

But there has been a recent change. Turkey is now talking tough as well. And, add in Iran’s attempt to ingratiate itself with the Arab world and suddenly it’s a little different ballgame.

Turkey’s inclusion against Israel in the rhetorical wars now being waged has encouraged many Arab pundits to hail the Turks and Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan as the much awaited “leader” of the movement against Israel. One writer hailed him as “more Arab than the Arabs” while criticizing Arab leaders as too passive.

There have been huge pro-Turkey rallies in Gaza, Beruit and Damascus. Recently, text messages from viewers displayed on Al-Jazeera TV during a June 4th Erdogan speech in Konya, some of which said: “Erdogan, you are king of the Arabs,” and “Son of the sultans, you have restored the glory of the Ottomans.”

Hizbullah considers Erdogan the new rock star of anti-Israeli leadership, and some Gazans are naming their children after him.

What Turkey and Erdogan have apparently managed to do, according to one writer, is bring those who have rejected Hamas and Hizbullah because of their Iranian ties on board in a unified “Islamic” effort to confront Israel:

“Unlike the Palestinians and many Arabs who support Nasrallah, large groups had yearned for a leadership unconnected to Iran or the new jihadi Shi’a… They rejected Hamas and accused the Palestinian jihad movement of being an instrument of Shi’ite Iran. Now Turkey has emerged to compensate for the incapacity of the leaders of the Arab regimes.

“Erdogan [has emerged as a figure] whose portrait can be displayed in homes, on billboards, and on cars. When all is said and done, the integration into the resistance movement of those who [had] hesitated is now being achieved through the gate of Islam.

Turkey seems to have finally rejected the west and put to rest its desire to be a part of it. Although it retains NATO membership, it appears to have no further interest in the EU. Turkey also appears to be again casting its eyes in the direction of its past glory – the Ottoman Empire. Certainly it isn’t pretending it would again rule over all of its former territories, but Turkey seems to feel it could be a major if not the major influence in the area of the Middle East. One sure way to work toward that goal is to take on Israel.

While it publicly claims it is still a secular nation ruled by secular institutions, this latest situation with Israel and Turkey’s reaction are all Islamic and designed to appeal to the Islamic world in general and the people of the Middle East specifically.

This is one of the conflicts that is brewing on the horizon. It is a new twist in a very old situation. But it promises real trouble if not addressed and defused quickly.

Of course, that will take leadership, not apology tours. I’m not sure that the US is up to the job. And I think the reason we’re hearing all this from Turkey now is they sense that is the case.

~McQ


Syria ups the ante, Israel responds

A few days ago I mentioned a story, which first broke in the Arab press and was then verified by Israeli intelligence, that Syria was providing the terrorist group Hezbollah with SCUD missiles.  Obviously there’s only one use for a SCUD and it isn’t defensive.

Syria, as you probably remember, has a huge stockpile of chemical weapons – weapons easily delivered by SCUD.  Hezbollah, financed by Iran, is buying the missiles from Syria and is moving them into south Lebanon.  The 15,000 man UN force there to keep such rearming from happening are apparently useless.  Of course SCUD missiles fired from southern Lebanon can range all of Israel and present a very real threat to the nation.  Syria is also providing advanced anti-aircraft systems to protect the SCUDs and their launchers.

Israel has made it clear that it holds Syria directly responsible for this situation and that any attack by Hezbollah with Syrian weapons will be considered to be an attack by Syria itself.  And, of course, it will be met by Israeli attacks on Syria proper:

“We’ll return Syria to the Stone Age by crippling its power stations, ports, fuel storage and every bit of strategic infrastructure if Hezbollah dare to launch ballistic missiles against us,” said an Israeli minister, who who was speaking off-the-record, last week.

The warning, which was conveyed to Damascus by a third party, was sent to reinforce an earlier signal by Avigdor Lieberman, the Israeli foreign minister. “If a war breaks out the Assad dynasty will lose its power and will cease to reign in Syria,” he said earlier this year.

In reality the “Assad dynasty” is much less powerful now than Assad’s father ruled.  Syrian President Bashar Assad isn’t the leader his father was and it is feared more radical elements within Syria are pushing for a confrontation with Israel.  It appears they hoped to do that by proxy, but Israel has put them on notice that option is closed.  In the meantime the article notes that Beirut , whose control was tenuous at best, seems to have totally lost control of Hezbollah now.

It is hard to imagine this sort of a capability not being used by extremists such as those in Hezbollah if they actually posses it.  And this situation points out very well why places like Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran and Syria are dangerous to the stability of the world – state sponsors of terrorism can and do provide these extremist groups with the means to arm and train themselves, and – in the case of Syria – access to powerful weapons which have a WMD capability.

“This is the first time that an internationally known terror organisation has been equipped with ballistic missiles,” said the minister.

Israel’s promise to attack Syria should Hezbollah fire SCUDs into Israel is the appropriate way to handle this sort of a situation and is a threat the US should firmly support.

“We are obviously increasingly concerned about the sophisticated weaponry that is allegedly being transferred,” said Robert Gibbs, the White House spokesman.

And, as Israelis have in the past, I wouldn’t put it past them if they did a little preemptive SCUD hunting in southern Lebanon if their intel turns some up. It would serve to protect their cities as well as verifying the existence of the missiles in southern Lebanon.   Obviously the UN isn’t up to the job of ensuring they’re kept out.

~McQ