Barry Rubin describes the latest example of the Obama administration’s hard-wired inability to take the side of an ally if it means offending a bloodthirsty enemy. In this instance the parties are Iraq, for whose stability we have sacrificed hundreds of lives, and Syria, which has harbored and supported the terrorists who have taken many of those lives.
The current disputes stem from a visit to Syria by President Maliki in mid-August. Malikii reportedly offered his Syrian counterpart Bashar Assad economic concessions in exchange for expelling 271 Iraqi exiles involved in organizing terrorist attacks against their country. Assad refused and Maliki returned to Iraq.
The next day, Baghdad was hit by large-scale bombings that targeted the Foreign and Finance Ministries. More than 100 Iraqis were killed. The Iraqi government blamed Syria. The two countries recalled their ambassadors, and the Iraqis are calling for an international tribunal to investigate.
A few days later, the U.S., through State Department spokesman Ian Kelly, had this to say about the matter:
We understand that there has been sort of mutual recall of the ambassadors. We consider that an internal matter. We believe that, as a general principle, that diplomatic dialogue is the best means to address the concerns of both parties. We are working with the Iraqis to determine who perpetrated these horrible acts of violence… We hope this doesn’t hinder dialogue between the two countries.
But the Iraqis had already concluded that the Syrians were behind the attacks, so what does it mean for the U.S. to work with the Iraqis to determine who the “perpetrators” were?
Furthermore, regardless of who was responsible for these particular acts, it is beyond dispute that (a) Syria has supported terrorism in Iraq for years and (b) refused to expel the 271 Iraqi exiles that were the subject of Maliki’s request. Under these circumstances, it is beyond craven for the U.S. to be neutral in this dispute.
What, moreover, are we to make of the Obama administration’s reference to “address[ing] the concerns of both parties”? Iraq’s concern is protecting its citizens from being blown up. That should be our concern too, and not just because our soldiers sometimes get blown up with the Iraqis.
But what is Syria’s concern? Nothing other than its desire to project its power and intimidate its neighbor.
How, then, can the Obama administration posit an equivalency between Iraq and Syria in this matter? And in so doing so, how can he command the respect of the leaders of either nation?
Obama portrays himself as a visionary, able to view the petty disputes that preoccupy the rest of the world from a higher plane, divorced from anything as banal as America’s interest. That posture is offensive enough. But what if, like so many extreme leftists who came before him, he’s just a man without a moral compass that points anywhere other than in direction of sharing the wealth and increasing government power?