U.S. impotent in face of Middle East events

Zvi Bar’el writes:

How long will the Syrian protesters wait until the United States and its allies deign to intervene in their slow massacre? What is the critical mass of people who must be killed for the “international community” to act? When there’s an earthquake, countries jostle each other to be visibly first in line with rescue forces for the victims; when thousands were killed in Darfur, the “community” went into deep hibernation until roused to assist.

In Syria, the barometer of bloodshed is still not a cause for concern. Condemnation, scolding and a few weak sanctions made it clear to President Bashar Assad that he’s still far from danger. Against Muammar Gadhafi, Washington quickly raised a military coalition. It called on Hosni Mubarak to resign; in Yemen it stirred things so as to prevent the return of its president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, to Sana’a. And in Syria? The key statement, “Assad has to go,” is still stuck in Washington’s throat.

The rational explanations for American restraint are not to be taken lightly: concern over Iran’s response; the desire to avoid putting a Western umbrella over a popular revolt so as not to impair its legitimacy; concern over the status of the United States in the Middle East if it finds itself facing a new front after Iraq and Afghanistan. Indeed, Washington must take “the day after” into consideration. But understanding for the considerations of “the day after” is what makes possible a murderous “today.”

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