Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Smite Our Enemies!

The President finally recognizes that we should support our friends and punish our enemies! I'm very heartened by this stunning grasp of the bleeding obvious. Let's get the quote, shall we?

And if Latinos sit out the election instead of saying, we're gonna punish our enemies and we're gonna reward our friends who stand with us on issues that are important to us, if they don't see that kind of upsurge in voting in this election, then I think it's gonna be harder — and that's why I think it's so important that people focus on voting on November 2.
Oh. That's not quite what I hoped for. The journey from community organizer to commander in chief is taking longer to complete than I hoped.

I was hoping, for example, that things like extending an open hand to Syria's thug ruler would end, in recognition that Boy Assad is a wholly owned subsidiary of Ahmadinejad and who seems quite immune to the soothing balms of hope, change, and Cairo speech flattery:

Bashar Assad told Al-Hayat newspaper in an interview published Tuesday that the U.S. "created chaos in every place it entered."

"Is Afghanistan stable? Is Somalia stable? Did they bring stability to Lebanon in 1983?" Assad asked, referring to U.S. intervention in Lebanon's 15-year civil war that ended in 1990.

U.S. President Barack Obama has made repeated overtures to Damascus this year, nominating the first U.S. ambassador to Syria since 2005 and sending top diplomats to meet with Assad. Obama is trying to lure Damascus away from its alliance with Iran and militant groups such as Hezbollah and the Palestinian Hamas.

But Syria has continued to strengthen ties with outspoken critics of Washington, such as Iran and Venezuela.

Reward friends. Punish enemies. When the president is right, he's right.

Now all he needs to do is get a clue about who our enemies are and who our friends are.

UPDATE: Thanks to The Unreligious Right for the link.

To be fair to the President, let me just say that his upcoming trip to India is a good jaunt forward on that journey to being the commander in chief in practice as well as on paper.

UPDATE: Ask and ye shall receive, I guess, given our State Department's response to Assad's verbal attack:

Rather than downplay these provocative remarks, State Department spokesman P. J. Crowley replied in kind, pointing out that “Recent Syrian behavior and rhetoric has had a destabilizing effect on Lebanon and the region, has contributed to recent tensions.”

It is good for the administration to realize that we have enemies. From Speaker Pelosi's pilgrimage to Damascus in 2007 to the current administration's energetic outreach, nothing has shaken Iran's dominance of Syria's foreign policy.

Now about that punishing enemies and rewarding friends advice. I'm not saying we couldn't "flip" Damascus. Assad will go whichever way he thinks enhances his survival. He is no jihadi. But we can't induce a flip with carrots. No, only learning to fear us more can get Syria to flip; and any rewards we might direct to Syria must only come after Syria actually flips and turns over their intelligence files on Iran, stops support for terrorism, and gets out of Lebanon for good.