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Charles Krauthammer's op-ed column on Obama and U.S. action in Syria.
But Obama does not make this argument. On the contrary. He goes to the Holocaust Museum to commit himself and his country to defend the innocent, to affirm the moral imperative of rescue. And then does nothing of any consequence.
His case for passivity is buttressed by the implication that the only alternative to inaction is military intervention--bombing, boots on the ground.
But that's false. It's not the only alternative. Why aren't we organizing, training, and arming the Syrian rebels in their sanctuaries in Turkey? Nothing unilateral here. Saudi Arabia is already planning to do so. Turkey has turned decisively against Assad. And the French are pushing for even more direct intervention.
Instead, Obama insists that we can act only with support of the "international community," meaning the U.N. Security Council--where Russia and China have a permanent veto. By what logic does the moral legitimacy of U.S. action require the blessing of a thug like Vladimir Putin and the butchers of Tiananmen Square?
Our slavish, mindless self-subordination to "international legitimacy" does nothing but allow Russia--a pretend post-Soviet superpower--to extend a protective umbrella over whichever murderous client it chooses. Obama has all but announced that Russia (or China) has merely to veto international actions--sanctions, military assistance, direct intervention--and the U.S. will back off.
For what reason? Not even President Clinton, a confirmed internationalist, would acquiesce to such restraints. With Russia prepared to block U.N. intervention against its client, Serbia, Clinton saved Kosovo by summoning NATO to bomb the hell out of Serbia, the Russians be damned.
If Obama wants to stay out of Syria, fine. Make the case that it's none of our business. That it's too hard. That we have no security/national interests there.
In my view, the evidence argues against that, but at least a coherent case for hands off could be made. That would be an honest, straightforward policy. Instead, the president, basking in the sanctity of the Holocaust Museum, proclaims his solemn allegiance to a doctrine of responsibility--even as he stands by and watches Syria burn.
If we are not prepared to intervene, even indirectly by arming and training Syrians who want to liberate themselves, be candid. And then be quiet. Don't pretend the U.N. is doing anything. Don't pretend the U.S. is doing anything. And don't embarrass the nation with an Atrocities Prevention Board. The tragedies of Rwanda, Darfur, and now Syria did not result from lack of information or lack of interagency coordination, but from lack of will.
Charles Krauthammer is a columnist