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Saturday, May 4, 2013

Thomas Friedman, "This Ain’t Yogurt": True, This Opinion Piece Is Bulls#$%

The Obama administration is finally getting around to acknowledging that Syria's Bashar al-Assad has used chemical weapons against rebel forces. Well, even before Obama's grudging acknowledgment, I unequivocally told those who read this blog that chemical weapons had been used (see:, and that Obama's so-called "red line" had been crossed.

"I have made clear that the use of chemical weapons is a game-changer," Obama declared in March. Well, Obama has since hurried to do nothing, and the world is smirking at American impotency.

Am I advocating American "boots on the ground" in Syria? No way in hell. The rebels, now with al-Qaeda factions at their lead, are just as cruel as Assad. But this also does not mean that the US should sit back and do nothing as tens of thousands more civilians are slaughtered.

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "This Ain’t Yogurt" (, Thomas Friedman writes about the ongoing tragedy in Syria. Friedman states:

"In the Arab world, in contrast, the heavy lid of authoritarianism was suppressing sectarian, tribal, Islamist and democratic aspirations. So, when the lids were removed, all four surfaced at once. But the Islamist trend has been the most energetic — helped and inspired not by the European Union but by Islamist mosques and charities in the Persian Gulf — and the democratic one has proved to be the least organized, least funded and most frail. In short, most of Eastern Europe turned out to be like Poland after communism ended and most of the Arab countries turned out to be like Yugoslavia after communism ended."

Friedman even dreams of comparing Egypt, Libya and Yemen with Slovenia, Croatia and Serbia? Has Friedman taken leave of his senses? I don't have time to dissect this trash talk.

Friedman continues:

"I believe if you want to end the Syrian civil war and tilt Syria onto a democratic path, you need an international force to occupy the entire country, secure the borders, disarm all the militias and midwife a transition to democracy. It would be staggeringly costly and take a long time, with the outcome still not guaranteed. But without a homegrown Syrian leader who can be a healer, not a divider, for all its communities, my view is that anything short of an external force that rebuilds Syria from the bottom up will fail. Since there are no countries volunteering for that role (and I am certainly not nominating the U.S.), my guess is that the fighting in Syria will continue until the parties get exhausted.

Meanwhile, wherever we can identify truly “good” rebels, we should strengthen them, but we should also be redoubling our diplomatic efforts to foster a more credible opposition leadership of reconciliation-minded Syrians who can reassure all of Syria’s communities that they will have an equitable place at a new cabinet table. (Never underestimate how many Syrians are clinging to the tyrannical Bashar al-Assad out of fear that after him comes only Hobbes or Khomeini.) That way, when the combatants get exhausted and realize that there can be no victor and no vanquished — a realization that took 14 years in Lebanon’s civil war next door — a fair power-sharing plan will be in place. Even then, Syrians will almost certainly need outside help to reassure everyone during the transition, but we can cross that bridge when we come to it."

Syria is not headed for democracy, there is no Syrian leader who can be a healer for all its communities, and there are no truly "good" rebels.

What then?

Owing to Obama's delay in acting, there are no "moderates" among Syria's rebels. We are only looking at radical jihadists, many from outside of Syria.

Unfortunately, there is a need to made a deal with the devil. The US needs to ensure the destruction of Syrian airbases, chemical weapons depots and Scud missiles in exchange for some sort of commitment that the rebels will not engage in wanton slaughter of Syria's Alawites when Assad falls, which he will.

Again, no American boots on the ground.

The added benefit: the destruction of the Iranian, Syrian, Hezbollah triumvirate.

C'est tout.

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