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Saturday, June 29, 2013

David Ignatius, "Obama’s Puzzling Middle East Policies": There Are No Policies

In a Washington Post opinion piece entitled "Obama’s puzzling Middle East policies" (, David Ignatius writes of "President Obama’s delay in implementing his policies in Syria":

"The military situation in Syria is slipping away as the president ponders. The regime of President Bashar al-Assad, backed by Iran, is creating a 'cordon sanitaire' from Damascus to the Alawite heartland in northwest Syria. This campaign escalated this month when Assad’s forces drove Syrian rebels from Qusair, near the Lebanese border. Now, Assad’s forces are pushing Sunni rebels from Tal Kalakh, a little farther north, continuing what increasingly appears to be a policy of ethnic cleansing.

'A divided Syria is going to be a scourge on its neighbors, region and the whole world, but mostly a catastrophe brought on the Syrian people for decades to come. . . . Simply, a dictator should not be left to do so much destruction,' wrote Gen. Salim Idriss, the rebel commander, in a letter to the U.N. Security Council on Monday.

And what is the United States doing to deliver on Obama’s June 14 pledge to provide increased military aid for the rebels? Let me quote the succinct summary of one of my Syrian rebel contacts: 'Nothing . . . not even a single bullet.'"

Hold your horses, David. In order for there to be a delay in implementing Obama's policies in Syria, there need to be policies.

"Red line" involving the use of chemical weapons? There is no red line.

Arms to Idriss? "Not even a single bullet" from America's Procrastinator-in-Chief.

Sure, I'm fully aware that Syria in some respects amounts to a battle between a Sunni al-Qaeda and a Shiite Iran/Hezbollah, and it could well be that apart from humanitarian interests - which are important - the US does not and should not have a dog in this fight.

The real concern should be a nuclear Iran, which continues to enrich uranium without hindrance from Obama. Obama has told us that he will not allow Iran to build an atomic bomb and that he does not bluff ( The problem, however, is that the Muslim Middle East and Russia's Putin are now convinced that America's president is as tough as the Pillsbury Doughboy and incapable of action.

And so Iran continues to build its bomb (see:, and ultimately Israel will be forced to act on its own.

Regarding Egypt, Ignatius observes:

"Egypt is another puzzling example of bootless Obama administration policy in the Middle East. The Muslim Brotherhood government of President Mohamed Morsi is demonstrably failing. The country is effectively bankrupt, save for misguided charity from Qatar. With just 28 percent of the public supporting Morsi, according to a Zogby Research poll, an opposition coalition called Tamarod claims to have gathered 15 million signatures on a petition withdrawing confidence in the president. This weekend protesters are gathering in Cairo.

What is the Obama administration’s position? You would think, surely, that it would remain neutral in the face of broad-based opposition to Morsi and the Brotherhood. It would urge the Egyptian army — the only institution in Egypt that retains wide support — to stay neutral as well, just as it did when protesters challenged President Hosni Mubarak two years ago.

But administration policy is so unclear that many Egyptians think the United States is backing Morsi in the face of public rejection, and they wonder why."

Again, there is no American policy other to watch from the side, and bloody rioting is anticipated today in Cairo and Alexandria.

What's to be done? Much like Chance the Gardener in Jerzy Kosinski's "Being There," America's president likes to watch . . . from distant Tanzania.


  1. "The problem, however, is that the Muslim Middle East and Russia's Putin are now convinced that America's president is as tough as the Pillsbury Doughboy and incapable of action"
    Well, I knew what kind of president Obama would be long before Clinton was eliminated.
    As he, surrounded by nice smiles of nice Hollywoody people, was striking nice poses, saying nice words, promoting nice hugs and kisses to the world, I, disgusted by the IDIOCY of what I saw and heard (I live in new York), declared in despair that I'd rather die than vote for him.
    The illiterate, genuinely, truly illiterate knew better. Sure.
    When you have population which roars an applause when a feeble minded celebrity, batting her eyelashes, orders to vote the way her pre-teen children want, you have a problem.

  2. I don't have TV, so I occasionally miss something, including possibly the redefinition of the role of President in the USA.
    As Obama travels, I sense the air of a Head of State and Head of State ONLY. This makes sense. Obama seems to be well suited for roles which requires nice poses and nice smile. Fine. Reagan, the actor, was his role model. Fine.
    But now ... I am a concerned citizen and I am concerned about how the country deprived of executive (and military) force will fare. Shouldn't someone actually run/defend the country?

  3. Thanks for reading Ignatius for me (it was more fun reading the NY Post today, on The Weiner, and the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg). From this Idriss quote, all I can think of is that Obama is using Sudan and Congo as precedents for what to do about Syria.

    fwiw, the USA is obviously doing a lot to help Jordan.

    As for Egypt? Amb. Patterson is why Egyptians think Obama backs Morsi. She just got a promotion. But, the U.S. Marines are ready to evacuate Cairo embassy personnel, including the MEU that was near Syria, but now in the Red Sea.

    Oh my, George and Laura Bush are also going to be in Tanzania on Monday.

    Obama promises 7BILUSD over five years to improve electricity acces in sub-Saharan Africa. Finally a use for Solyndra's inventory? Just kidding, but, Mr. Prez-D, I am still waiting for high speed internet access in rural America, you know, that was part of the 2009 Stimulus promise.