Monday, July 05, 2010

Love Hurts

A guy with no chin hits the U.S. on the chin:

The Obama administration’s failure to facilitate change in the Middle East shows that it is weak, Syrian President Bashar Assad said Sunday during a visit to Latin America amid rising regional tensions over last month’s Gaza flotilla incident and increasing efforts to defuse the Iranian threat.

Assad was quoted Monday in the Argentine daily Clarín as saying that Washington did not “seem to be able to manage a peace process from beginning to end.” He added that while the US was capable of pulling “all its weight” to support a peace process, the current administration has so far proved to be impractical and unable to gain the backing of Congress.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but Bashar Assad doesn't give a rat's ass about peace. He's the Fredo Corleone of the Middle East who got the job when his brother met an early demise and his taunts ought to be met with scorn. Peace, for Assad, amounts to pushing the Israelis into the Mediterranean.

The more interesting question: why is this chinless doofus touring South America? Because he doesn't fear any repercussions and he knows that the actors on the stage are elsewhere:

While criticizing the Obama administration, Assad had only words of praise for rising players in global and regional diplomacy – namely Turkey and Brazil, who recently brokered a deal to enrich Iran’s uranium on Turkish soil. The move, said Assad, transfers “essential political weight from a few countries in the North, such as Europe and the US, to others in the world.”

Yep -- it's hard to play the game when you're not in the game. And there's more:

Assad expressed hope that initiative would lead to increased cooperation between the less affluent countries south of the equator. On the nuclear issue, he said only that Syria wishes to prevent an “uncontrollable” arms race and “transform the Middle East into a zone free of nuclear weapons … If Israel continues to be a nuclear power from a military point of view, unfortunately this race will take off some day”.

Israel should disarm, of course. And everyone should expect the nations around it to act in good faith. Sure. Makes perfect sense, if your endgame is the Mediterranean.

It's a question that dates back to Machiavelli -- is it better to be loved or feared? At the moment, the U.S. is not feared. That lack of fear doesn't seem to be leading to love, either.

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