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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 6/17/13

Clinton and Netanyahu Not Good for Obama

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"In sharp remarks directed against his Democratic successor and his wife's former boss, President Bill Clinton said Tuesday that President Barack Obama risks looking like a 'wuss,' a 'fool,' and 'lame' for not doing more to influence events in Syria.

"Clinton, speaking with Sen. John McCain Tuesday night in a closed press event sponsored by the McCain Institute, contrasted Obama's inaction in Syria to his own action in the 1999 NATO intervention in Kosovo, which included the bombing of the forces of Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic."

For a man who served two terms as president, Clinton knows better than to compare apples to oranges in a sensitive political decision. Kosovo was then, Syria is now. In addition, the political dynamics in 1999 are totally different from those in 2013.

Obama knows the difference far better than his erstwhile presidential pal, which explains why the current President joined the Clinton-McCain war party so reluctantly. He said as much, as Peter Baker reported in The New York Times:

"Coming so late into the conflict, Mr. Obama expressed no confidence it would change the outcome, but privately expressed hope it might buy time to bring about a negotiated settlement."

Obama should find new friends whose wives are not running for president. One place to start is to pay attention to someone like Ramzy Mardini, an adjunct fellow at the Beirut-based Iraq Institute for Strategic Studies, who wrote in The New York Times that even a tentative step toward military involvement in Syria is a "Bad Idea, Mr. President":

"Lacking a grand strategy, Mr. Obama has become a victim of rhetorical entrapment over the course of the Arab Spring -- from calling on foreign leaders to leave (with no plan to forcibly remove them) to publicly drawing red lines on the use of chemical weapons, and then being obliged to fulfill the threat."

Obama would also benefit from reading veteran Middle East correspondent Robert Fisk  who, after Obama's announcement of small arms aid, wrote in  The Independent:

"The Western powers are dangerously close to flooding Syria with weapons and ammunition which will officially go to the nice rebels -- but will quickly pass to the horrid rebels, who will sell some of them to al-Qa'ida, Iraqi insurgents, Syrian government troops, Malian militiamen, Taliban fighters and Pakistani hitmen. Guns are about money."

We must also assume that by now President Obama has been informed of what, if true, is a dangerous new development, also reported by Fisk, who writes that Iran will send 4,000 troops to assist Syrian government forces.

According to Fisk, the decision to involve Iranian forces in Syrian was made before the Iranian presidential election. Why is this ominous? Iran's entry into the Syrian civil war would place Shia forces against Sunni forces with the U.S. operating on the side of the Sunnis. Fisk writes:

"In years to come, historians will ask how America -- after its defeat in Iraq and its humiliating withdrawal from Afghanistan scheduled for 2014 -- could have so blithely aligned itself with one side in a titanic Islamic struggle stretching back to the seventh century death of the Prophet Mohamed.

"The profound effects of this great schism, between Sunnis who believe that the father of Mohamed's wife was the new caliph of the Muslim world and Shias who regard his son in law Ali as his rightful successor -- a seventh century battle swamped in blood around the present-day Iraqi cities of Najaf and Kerbala -- continue across the region to this day. A 17th century Archbishop of Canterbury, George Abbott, compared this Muslim conflict to that between "Papists and Protestants."

Who are the players in this deadly game?

"America's alliance now includes the wealthiest states of the Arab Gulf, the vast Sunni territories between Egypt and Morocco, as well as Turkey and the fragile British-created monarchy in Jordan.

"King Abdullah of Jordan -- flooded, like so many neighboring nations, by hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees -- may also now find himself at the fulcrum of the Syrian battle. Up to 3,000 American 'advisers' are now believed to be in Jordan, and the creation of a southern Syria 'no-fly zone' -- opposed by Syrian-controlled anti-aircraft batteries -- will turn a crisis into a 'hot' war. So much for America's "friends.'"

The reason President Obama needs to stop listening to Benjamin Netanyahu is obvious from Netanyahu's immediate response to the Iranian election result. You can almost hear Netanyahu's dismissive reaction, "nothing new here."

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James Wall served as a Contributing Editor of The Christian Century magazine, based in Chicago, Illinois, from 1999 through 2017. From 1972 through 1999, he was editor and publisher of the Christian Century magazine. Many sources have influenced (more...)

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