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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Thomas Friedman, "Will the Ends, Will the Means": Explaining Away Obama's Failure to Act in Syria

As you might remember, President Obama sought to excuse his failure to act in Syria by telling Thomas Friedman earlier this month:

"With 'respect to Syria,' said the president, the notion that arming the rebels would have made a difference has 'always been a fantasy. This idea that we could provide some light arms or even more sophisticated arms to what was essentially an opposition made up of former doctors, farmers, pharmacists and so forth, and that they were going to be able to battle not only a well-armed state but also a well-armed state backed by Russia, backed by Iran, a battle-hardened Hezbollah, that was never in the cards.'"

Well today, in a New York Times op-ed entitled "Will the Ends, Will the Means," Thomas Friedman parrots Obama's excuse regarding the mess in Syria:

"Even if we had armed Syrian moderates, how could they have defeated a coalition of the Syrian Alawite army and gangs, backed by Russia, backed by Iran, backed by Hezbollah — all of whom play by 'Hama Rules,' which are no rules at all — without the U.S. having to get involved?"

Note that Friedman fails to mention:

  • the use by Assad of chemical weapons against civilians in rebel held areas;
  • a death toll of more than 160,000 people resulting from the civil war;
  • some 6.5 million persons forced to flee their homes (Syria's total population is 23 million).

No, I would never advocate US boots on the ground in Syria. On the other hand, a no-fly zone intended to protect Syrian civilians could have been imposed by Obama.

It wasn't.

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