Assad the butcher has nothing to fear from Obama (ISRAEL HAYOM OP-ED) Dan Margalit 05/28/12)
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NEWS ANALYSIS: Once the U.S. wielded deterrent power, but now
Washington can be manipulated without fear of retribution, as
American punishment no longer deters • If Obama cannot stop Syria, he
has almost no chance against Iran and North Korea.
America has developed its own behavioral model, both inwardly and
outwardly: In discussions, negotiations or disputes, as serious as
they may be, the U.S. grants a lot of leeway — be it in an ally or an
enemy. The U.S. believes its citizens´ declarations on their tax
forms; the U.S. negotiates fiercely but accepts foreign governments´
verbal commitments as fact. But if the commitment is not honored, the
U.S. metes out brutal, prolonged penalties.
Starting with David Ben-Gurion, Israel´s prime ministers have done
their utmost not to be caught telling a lie in English. The most
extreme, ostensibly, was Yitzhak Shamir, who opted to spar with U.S.
Secretary of State James Baker rather than make him promises he
couldn´t keep. After all, everyone knows the punishment — the
American penalty wasn´t always just, but it always hurt.
The U.S. was able to maintain this behavioral model during the Cold
War, and after, when the U.S. was the only superpower (since the fall
of the Berlin Wall). But things have changed, mainly psychologically.
American punishment no longer serves as a deterrent. World leaders
are no longer afraid to be caught in a lie. Washington can be
manipulated without fear of retribution.
At the height of the negotiations with Iran it became clear to the
West that Tehran was not going to give up its nuclear program. In
Istanbul and in Baghdad the sides discussed lowering the uranium
enrichment level from 20 percent to 5%, until it emerged that Iran
had surprisingly leaped to enriching to 27%. Iran is not afraid to be
viewed as a serial fraud. North Korea already beat them to the punch.
Given these circumstances, why should Syrian President Bashar al-
Assad be worried about the American declaration that "the time has
come" to replace him? He is mercilessly massacring his people,
bombing them indiscriminately. In Houla and in Homs the army is
filling civilians with cast lead bullets in insane and unprecedented
quantities. An honest Palestinian who hates Israel would have a hard
time saying anything bad about the Israeli army in comparison to what
the Syrians are doing to their Arab brothers.
U.S. President Barack Obama is not keeping quiet. He has suggested
that Assad relinquish power in exchange for political asylum. He is
even pressuring Russian President Vladimir Putin to do the dirty work
for him — the same Putin who was responsible for the oppression in
Chechnya and who provided the inspiration for Assad in how to wage
civil war. It is ridiculous — Putin´s clients are Iran, Hezbollah and
Assad. He is invested in them, and therefore defends them. And Obama
doesn´t seriously deter anyone. He doesn´t dare.
Assad is no longer afraid. Putin won´t come to Obama´s aid. Russia
regrets having helped the West in Libya, and probably won´t repeat
that perceived mistake, which undermines Russia´s traditional policy
of staking a claim in the tumultuous Middle East. And if Obama can´t
stop Syria, he has almost no chance against Iran and North Korea.
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