President Obama’s kowtowing to anti-American dictators was a source of embarrassment throughout the first year of his presidency. Now, as his second year approaches, Obama’s Carteresque tendencies are producing real-world consequences that border on the criminal.
Exhibit A is Lebanon. The freedom agenda of President Bush’s first administration helped produce the Cedar Revolution. After Syria sponsored the assassination of Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, the Syrians, under pressure from a newly assertive U.S. government, withdrew from Lebanon ending 30 years of occupation. There was hope that an international tribunal would arraign Syrian dictator Bashar Assad for the murder of Harriri, and that Lebanon would become a genuine Arab democracy.
But now, as Jonathan Tobin explains, these hopes have been dashed. Indeed, the situation in Lebanon is so bad that Hariri’s son, Saad, has just journeyed to Damascus to pay tribute to his father’s murderer. Syrian troops have not returned to Lebanon, but they don’t need to – Hezbollah, a proxy for both Iran and Syria, supplies the muscle. Meanwhile, Syria’s influence is again unchallenged in Beirut, as Hariri’s visit demonstrates.
What happened? For one thing, Israel failed to defeat Hezbollah during the 2006 war. But according to the New York Times, no less, the main factor in Lebanon’s national humiliation and downfall is President Obama’s decision to “engage” Syria and its butcher of a leader:
[T]]he United States and the West have chosen to engage with Syria, not isolate it. And Saudi Arabia, which has long backed Mr. Hariri and competed with Syria for influence here, reconciled with the Syrians earlier this year, leaving them a freer hand to guide politics in Lebanon as they once did.
Or, as Tobin puts it, “those who thought they had the West’s backing for resisting the thugs of Damascus have been forced to swallow their pride and swear loyalty to Assad in order to save their lives.” Thus, Lebanon stands humiliated, its hopes for freedom and independence dashed probably for at least another generation.
But the real humiliated party is the United States. Its president, with his fetish for engagement with tyrants and his indifference (at best) to the aspirations of those who oppose tyranny, has sold out the Lebanese. And for what? A Nobel Peace Prize awarded by those who share the same absurd fetish and the same disgusting indifference, plus the well-earned contempt of the tyrants he shamelessly appeases.
UPDATE: For a more optimistic, though hardly sanguine, view of the situation in Lebanon see this piece from last month by Peter Berkowitz, which we linked to here. Peter’s analysis was written before Hariri’s highly symbolic trip to Damascus.
MORE: From Michael Totten.