George W. Bush certainly seems like he likes to strangle things. He’s been trying to strangle Cuba and Cuban-American families with tightened restrictions on family-related travel to emphasize how much every President of the United States since Eisenhower has tried (and failed) to undermine Fidel Castro’s government.
Now, Bush yesterday started to strangle Syria more tightly. Arguing that Syria is not doing enough to stop the movement of terrorists between Iraq and Syria, Bush issued an Executive Order increasing the number of Syrian officials whose financial assets can be held.
So — someone on the press beat with Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, ask these two presidential hopefuls if they agree with the President’s action against Syria or not? If so, why? If not, what reasons would they as President use to undo our counter this action.
I’ll give you my answer. Bush’s move is reckless — and threatens to add further stress to a region that is wondering whether Bush’s initiative to achieve some kind of Israel/Palestine deal is real or contrived.
Syria must be a party to any arrangement with the broader Arab world — and thus far, Syria has been on the whole reasonably behaved with regard to Israel. When Israel attacked some warehouses that Seymour Hersh argues were not nuclear weapons related, Syria restrained itself from attacking back and did not unleash agents into Israel to create domestic strife.
But beyond that, I have no idea if terrorists are really moving between Iraq and Syria or not — but I do know that the Syrian government itself sees zero benefit to hosting insurgents or Islamic radicals in its country. The Syrian government is as worried about the impact of anti-government Islamist militancy within its borders as Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and other Gulf states.
What I do know is that Syria is hosting more than 1.2 million refugees from Iraq and that the United Nations and Europe have been applauding and publicly commending Syria and Jordan, which has another million. This refugee problem is a function of the American invasion, and it’s simply outrageous that the United States would move to further punish Syria when it is carrying much of the load for our Middle East actions.
I really want to hear what Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama would do in this case.
— Steve Clemons