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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Thomas Friedman, "Don’t Just Do Something. Sit There.": Obama Apologist Par Excellence

“Some nations may be able to turn a blind eye to atrocities in other countries. The United States of America is different.”

- President Obama, March 2011

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Don’t Just Do Something. Sit There." (, Thomas Friedman defends Obama's do-nothing policies in the face of genocide being perpetrated by Bashar al-Assad in Syria. Claiming that the Cold War is over and that the United States "won" (Who cares if Russia is now violating every major weapons treaty with the US, according to Sen. Marco Rubio?), Friedman would have America ignore the travesties being perpetrated against Syrian civilians. Friedman writes:

"So what do we do? The world is learning that the bar for U.S. intervention abroad is being set much higher. This is due to a confluence of the end of the Soviet Union’s existential threat, the experience of investing too many lives and $2 trillion in Iraq and Afghanistan to little lasting impact, America’s rising energy independence, our intelligence successes in preventing another 9/11 and the realization that to fix what ails the most troubled countries in the world of disorder is often beyond our skill set, resources or patience.

In the Cold War, policy-making was straightforward. We had 'containment.' It told us what to do and at almost any price. Today, Obama’s critics say he must do 'something' about Syria. I get it. Chaos there can come around to bite us. If there is a policy that would fix Syria, or even just stop the killing there, in a way that was self-sustaining, at a cost we could tolerate and not detract from all the things we need to do at home to secure our own future, I’m for it.

But we should have learned some lessons from our recent experience in the Middle East: First, how little we understand about the social and political complexities of the countries there; second, that we can — at considerable cost — stop bad things from happening in these countries but cannot, by ourselves, make good things happen; and third, that when we try to make good things happen we run the risk of assuming the responsibility for solving their problems, a responsibility that truly belongs to them."

Got it: Obama should continue to issue warnings against the use of chemical weapons in Syria and violence aimed at unarmed civilians in Kiev, but the world should know that these admonitions have no teeth.

Establish a no-fly zone over Syria, entailing no boots on the ground, which would allow the airlift of food to starving Syrian civilians and prevent Assad from dropping barrel bombs on these people's homes? No way! We don't understand the "complexities" of starvation! Having erred in Iraq and Afghanistan (unlike Friedman who supported the Second Gulf War, I opposed both these involvements), we must now avoid responsibility at any cost!

Alternatively, Obama could have maintained economic sanctions against Iran, which has supplied Assad with advanced weaponry, advisers and Hezbollah fighters. However, Obama, a foreign affairs naif, decided to dismantle economic sanctions against Iran in order to induce Supreme Leader Khamenei to engage in idle discussions with P5+1 negotiators over cessation of his nuclear weapons development program. Meanwhile, the Iranians have gone on record as saying that they are unwilling to dismantle a single centrifuge.

Obama's declaration in March 2011 that the US would not "turn a blind eye to atrocities in other countries"? Obama was obviously lying, and given that we have gotten accustomed to his other whoppers, e.g., "If you like your plan, you can keep your plan," why should we get upset over additional evidence of flimflam.

Get used to it already that three long years have passed since Obama weighed in against atrocities being perpetrated overseas against innocent civilians! It's March 2014, and Obama, who confers with Tom Terrific, has a new policy governing matters of genocide:

"What me worry?"

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