Belmont Club

Far Enemy, Near Enemy

The Obama administration has no qualms about getting tough on domestic opponents. In the case of foreign opponents the story is quite different. Lee Smith reports that after much soul searching the United States has decided to directly give the Syrian rebels nonlethal aid.


That assistance, according to Kerry, “will strengthen the organizational capacity of the Syrian Opposition Coalition. It will help war torn communities be able to survive devastating situations with respect to sanitation, food delivery, medical care. It will speed the delivery of basic goods and services including security and education. It will help to initiate discussions with those who are providing for public order and for justice as the transition itself unfolds. And we will help the SNC, Free Syrian Army, and the civilian opposition to feed those in need and tend to the sick and the wounded.”

Perhaps not knowing whether he had wandered into the press conference of Oxfam instead of the United States Secretary of State a reporter asked “can you commit to providing more substantial assistance in the future, such as communications equipment, armored cars, bulletproof vests, night vision goggles, the things of that nature?,” the secretary of state fudged, evading the question. “We are providing some $60 million, the most significant portion of which is going directly to the Syrian opposition to enable it to be able to organize more effectively.”

It appears that President Obama is trying to have it both ways at once again. Lee Smith notes that the Obama administration has already given $385 million in aid to the Syrian rebels, but unfortunately Assad has diverted most of it. “It is Syria’s Red Crescent, a Damascus-based organization controlled by the Assad regime, that has been responsible for delivering assistance to needy Syrians. In November, a Syrian NGO, the Union of Syrian Medical Relief Organizations, estimated that 90-95 percent of all international aid was being seized by the regime.”


Call it old-fashioned politeness. After years of Texas coarseness the administration has brought the bracing air of Chicago sophistication to international affairs. It is winning over its foreign enemies with kindness. How else can we help the Washington Post explain the gloating tone of Tehran’s chief negotiator, Saeed Jalili, at his talks with the administration.

The most interesting public result of the latest talks with Iran on its nuclear program was the claim by Tehran’s chief negotiator, Saeed Jalili, that the new negotiating proposal from the United States and five partners was a possible “turning point” in what has been nearly a decade of fruitless diplomacy. Those cheery words, and the Iranian’s quick agreement to two follow-up meetings in the next five weeks, raised the question of whether the regime is positioning itself to strike a deal that would freeze the most dangerous elements of its nuclear work in exchange for an easing of the sanctions that are choking its economy.

We hope that is the case. Unfortunately, an equally plausible explanation for Mr. Jalili’s comment was that he was celebrating the fact that, in the eight months since Iran last agreed to meet with the international coalition, the offer to Tehran had grown more, rather than less, generous. “It was they who tried to get closer to our point of view,” he crowed, while adding that there remained “a long distance to the desirable point.”


He sounds like he hit paydirt — Jalili — that is.  All the President has to do is up the ante a little more. Just throw in a few more billions to sweeten the pot and Teheran can find it in their hearts to reluctantly concede not to incinerate the Great and Little Satans just yet. Yes infidel, you may live a little longer.

It is victory for the administration! Victory for smart ad hocracy! A triumph for sophistication, sanity and intelligence. Especially after the Washington Post notes that “U.S. officials denied that the terms offered Iran had grown softer as the regime has refused talks, stonewalled international inspectors and continued to defy U.N. Security Council resolutions by adding to its stockpile of enriched uranium.”

Let it never be said that Obama folded in the face of Iran. The Washington Post had better believe it. Or they might get an abusive email from the White House saying they “will regret it” and then get savaged by Josh Marshall and Andrew Sullivan for being senile and in the pay of the Republicans.

That of course doesn’t make the administration’s triumphs true. Not that anybody cares any more, simply that it’s an important point to bear in mind when the effects of reality, so long denied, rebound on everyone’s head eventually.

Here’s my advice. Don’t nobody produce a video which might be in the slightest bit offensive to Muslims anywhere in the world. For it will in due time be the cause of some horrible catastrophe that will be viewed by drone for 24 hours at least until the object in view burns down to the ground unexpectedly.  Then the hunt will be on — for the producer of the video.


Don’t say you weren’t warned.

The Three Conjectures at Amazon Kindle for $1.99

Storming the Castle at Amazon Kindle for $3.99

No Way In at Amazon Kindle $8.95, print $9.99

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