US leading from behind on calls for Assad's ouster
We were quick enough to call for Hosni Mubarak to step down in Egypt. Tossing a long time ally to the wolves was something the Obama administration found easy to do.
But something gets caught in our throat when it comes to calling for Assad to take a very long walk off a very short pier.
One week after officials put out the word that the Obama administration would call for Syrian President Bashar Assad to step down, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has repeatedly passed up the opportunity to do just that.
Clinton, speaking alongside Defense Secretary Leon Panetta Tuesday at a forum in Washington, D.C., defended the U.S. response to Syria and Libya. And she suggested the time was not yet ripe to go public with a call for Assad's ouster or resignation.
"I am a big believer in results over rhetoric," Clinton said, when asked whether the administration would call on Assad to relinquish power. She noted that she wants to know that other nations in the region are on board in a uniform response.
"It's not going to be any news if the United States says, 'Assad needs to go.' OK, fine. What's next? If Turkey says it, if King Abdullah says it, if other people say it, there is no way the Assad regime can ignore it."
State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland suggested Tuesday that the administration wants to see more out of the United Nations. She said that while the U.N. has issued a presidential statement condemning the Assad regime, "we don't have a Security Council resolution because some countries have still not come off the fence."
It is a remarkable testament to the stupidity of the Obama administration that they actually equate "leadership" with waiting for countries who "still have not come off the fence" before calling on a murderous despot to step down. It didn't seem to bother us that the UN hadn't called on Mubarak to resign when we pushed him out the door, thus giving the Muslim Brotherhood an opportunity in Egypt.
We have no such influence with Syria? Who cares. We have influence - or at least we should - with some of those same countries who are currently sitting on the fence about Assad. Perhaps they are waiting for us to give them some cover.
Regardless, this is the new paradigm in international relations; the US leading from behind, urging other nations forward while we hang back. It is bizarre. It is weird.
And it isn't working.