White House Press Secretary Jay Carney – happy to get back to serious questions, after spending the weekend making fun of reporters who dared to ask why President Obama has commemorated every major Muslim holiday but issued no Easter proclamation – was kind enough to explain why the Administration has such different policies regarding Syria and Libya. They’re different, you see.
As reported by Fox News, Carney said Libya was a “unique situation” because “we had a Qaddafi regime that was moving against its own people in a coordinated military fashion and was about to assault a very large city on the promise that it would show it… the regime would show that city and its residents no mercy.”
By contrast, we have an Assad regime that is most certainly “moving against its own people in a coordinated military fashion.” Snipers have been blowing people away from rooftops. Tanks are rolling against unarmed demonstrators, particularly in the “very large city” of Daraa – population 755,000, and falling! The official death toll from human rights groups stands at “over 300.” I strongly suspect it’s much higher than that.
So the signal difference between Qaddafi and Assad is that Qaddafi said there would be “no mercy?” We went to war in Libya because of the harsh language, but Assad can keep the heat down to a few economic sanctions as long as he doesn’t say anything scary?
Carney also mentioned that Libya had “an international consensus to act, and support from the Arab League for action.” If those things are reasons for action, rather than tools at our disposal, then we’ve given up control of our foreign policy.
At any rate, we don’t need an international consensus or the Arab League to declare Assad an illegitimate ruler and call on him to step down. Of course he’ll tell us to pound sand, but it matters what we say, and Bashar Assad’s are not the only ears we should be concerned about. Will the same Administration that publicly declared Assad a “reformer” now publicly declare him an outlaw? Or at least the ruler of an “evil empire?”