Syrian president Bashar Assad has declared that the Obama administration’s failure to facilitate change in the Middle East shows that it is weak. Assad made this statment during a visit to Latin America, which has become a region of interest to both Assad and Iranian president Ahmadinejad.
Assad’s statement provides further evidence of the dangers that arise from Obama’s obsession with forcing Israeli concessions in the name of “peace.” Try as he might, Obama will not be able to force enough concessions to satisfy the Palestinians, and by extension Assad. Thus, he enables Assad and other enemies of the U.S. to portray Obama as weak and ineffectual. And the claim is plausible because Obama is failing to meet his own objectives.
Weakness, or even just plausible claims of weakness, can only make Obama an object of contempt in the Middle East and elsewhere.
Nor can Obama cure this perception by pushing harder on the Israelis. First, once the Israelis perceive Obama as placing demands on them in response to criticism from the likes of Assad, he loses whatever credibility he might retain with the government. Obama can succeed in inducing Israel to make concessions only if the government somehow believes he’s urging these concessions based on Israel’s interests, not his own desire to save face.
Second, as already mentioned, each concession Obama extracts from Israel under pressure from Arab states will lead to pressure to extract new concessions. This puts Obama in the position of chasing his tail. There are few surer signs of weakness than that.
Assad is playing Obama, and who can blame him? Why should he treat Obama better than Putin, Ahmadinejad, Chavez, etc. do?
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