The Syrian crisis and Obama’s post-American presidency

Fred Hiatt of the Washington Post delivers a devastating critique of President Obama’s Middle East policy. The op-ed is called “Obama’s Syria achievement.” That achievement consists not just in Obama “presid[ing] over a humanitarian and cultural disaster of epochal proportions,” but also in “sooth[ing] the American people into feeling no responsibility for the tragedy.”

I recommend the entire article, but this passage really caught my eye:

[Obama] has implied that because we can’t solve every problem, maybe we shouldn’t solve any. “How do I weigh tens of thousands who’ve been killed in Syria versus the tens of thousands who are currently being killed in the Congo?” he asked.

Hiatt points out that at the time, thousands were not being killed in the Congo. Talk about a false choice.

But here’s the real problem with Obama’s question: the U.S. has strong interests in Syria — national security interests — that it lacks in the Congo. Therefore, a president who puts American interests first will have no difficulty giving priority to the situation in Syria. Such a president might conclude that American interests don’t favor meaningful involvement in Syria, but he would not ask Obama’s “Congo” question except perhaps as a dodge.

Obama has proudly proclaimed himself a citizen of the world. These aren’t idle words. As Elliott Abrams has demonstrated, Obama’s presidency reflects a desire to transcend merely American interests.

Unfortunately, the Syrian crisis shows that Obama doesn’t measure up as a citizen of the world, either.