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September 11, 2013 6:59 am

President Obama Must Finally Stand Up and Lead on Syria

avatar by Shmuley Boteach

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President Obama on PBS. Photo: Screenshot.

(Editor’s note: This article was written before President Obama’s prime time address on the topic of Syria on Tuesday night.)

I don’t know what President Obama will say in his speech tonight, but I do know this. U.S. policy on Syria is muddled, weak, and increasingly bizarre.

From the outset of the Syrian civil war, when Bashar Assad turned on his people and started murdering them in their tens of thousands, President Obama should have gone to the UN and announced that the United States will seek an indictment against President Assad as a war criminal, guilty of crimes against humanity. Instead, we had two years of atrocities with very little American condemnation. Finally, when Assad gassed his people, including 400 children, President Obama showed courage and fortitude in demanding that Assad be held accountable for this abomination. I was inspired by his seemingly unshakable determination to hold this killer accountable for his crimes.

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But it’s been downhill ever since.

Rather than striking at Assad’s air force and air fields – not to mention his presidential palaces – so that the slaughter could be minimized and Assad personally punished, President Obama announced that he is going to Congress for approval. Was there really time for that? Wasn’t there a danger that Assad would gas his people further, or even just continue to slaughter them with more conventional weapons?

What this delay has allowed is this:

1.     Assad to go on TV with Charlie Rose – who by the way conducted a pointed and impressive interview – and come across as calm, measured, and reasonable, thereby further undermining the urgency of an attack and sowing more doubts in the minds of the public as to whether this monster deserved to be hit.

2.     Russia meddling in the process and offering to broker a deal whereby Assad submits his chemical arsenal to international control. Really? How will we know we’ve found them all? How long will it take? Does Assad get to keep on killing people while this process drags on for months? And since Russia has vetoed every Security Council measure intended to hold Assad accountable, are their motives to stop the chemical attacks or protect their murderous proxy?

3.     The United States to come across as weak and befuddled in the face of clear violations of every humane law of civility. If the world’s most powerful nation can’t make up its mind to strike back – in however limited a capacity – against a mass murderer of children, then what hope is there for the words “Never Again” to actually have any teeth?

4.     Assad to get off nearly scott free. Let’s say that President Obama agrees to this deal and Russia and the UN become responsible for overseeing the control or regulation of Syria’s chemical arsenal (which by itself almost sounds farcical). Does that mean that Assad is not punished for gassing children? Hmmm… So if a man shoots up a school here in the US, but agrees to have law enforcement confiscate all his weapons, is he then not punished?

Syria was President Obama’s moment to prove once and for all that he is serious about human rights and the infinite value of human life. He did an admirable job helping to get rid of the butcher in Libya, Gaddafi. He was outstanding in taking the decision – without any Congressional approval – to strike deep in the heart of Pakistan against Osama bin Laden.

How sad that President Obama is so muddying his legacy by showing irresolution in the face of so clear a moral imperative.

Mr. President. Stop dithering. Children are dying. Stand up and lead.

Shmuley Boteach, “America’s Rabbi,” is the international best-selling author of 29 books and will shortly publish “Kosher Lust”. Follow him on Twitter @RabbiShmuley.

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  • Lawrence Kulak

    Rabbi shmuely Boteach is a wonderfully idealistic person when it comes to human rights and I would be the last person to try to burst his bubble. But in his naivete, he fails to acknowledge the fact that the standard for the world has always been to fail to respond at all to even a genocidal regime. Bill Clinton twiddled his thumbs for three years while the Rawandans were being hacked apart with machetes, and Jimmuh (no, not Jimmy, Jimmuh) Carter did nothing to prevent the Khmer Rouge from killing more than a million Cambodians (or was it three million?) Why should we expect Barack Obama to stand up and be a great humanitarian leader? First, he is not jewish, and second, he refused to vote against the barbaric practice of partial birth abortion in his home State of Illinois! That is actual murder as well! So wherefore comes the profound naivete of Rabbi Boteach who misplaces too much trust in charismatic Christians who really care more about a good basketball game than human life. We the chosen people are of course much different and that is a concept which Rabbi Boteach has not yet fully digested. Should we as Jews care about the 400 Syrian children brutally gassed by Assad? Of course we should, but not to the extent of showing anybody up or increasing animosity toward ourselves. The fact is, that Assad has just become one more murderous tyrant on the world stage. Our biggest and primary concern should be his methods – cause you never know which way the wind blows.

  • Sandy Brown

    President O’Bummer is pretty useless. I live in London and I have never had a good opinion of his work. He does not seem to do much. When I see him and David Cameron together I just think, they are both useless. Lots of people in the UK will be voting UKIP in our next election. The leader, Nigel Farage, is married to a German lady.

  • Ralph Levitt

    We Jews have complained for decades that the Christians
    did little while we endured the agony of WW II.
    Now what does this rabbi do?
    He ignores the attacks on the Christians by the rebels in
    Syria and other jihadis elsewhere—-they are being murdered, forced to convert to Islam, priests beheaded and
    churches trashed.
    In this regard, Assad—although a dictator and mamzer—
    has an good record in defending the Christians and other
    minorities.
    What rabbinical school did this rabbi Boteach attend?
    The academy of yolds no doubt.

  • little President 0mommy, couldn’t do the right thing, if it were EASIER, FOR HIM TO DO SO. He is to the Presidency, what Miley Cyrus, the Olsen twins and Lindsey Lohan are to entertainment.

    http://www.thehollywoodgossip.com/videos/miley-cyrus-wrecking-ball-music-video/
    ——-
    http://www.renewamerica.com/bb/viewtopic.php?p=173180#p173180

    —-Squishey Christians..TIME TO WAKE UP!

    http://www.forerunner.com/forerunner/X0508_Sandlin_-_Gods_Enemi.html —God extends His grace to His people (and mankind in general) when He destroys the wicked, because in destroying the wicked, He is averting their evil works that so plague God’s people and mankind in general.

  • The real problem is there are no good guys in the Syrian conflict. The sides are terrible.

    The “good guys” are the children who are being endangered and murdered by both sides. How about a kindertransport to get the children out of that war zone.

    Many of the World War II Kindertransport children were not formally adopted because their parents were still alive when they left. Very few had parents after the war, and sometimes reuniting parents and children after 1945 was problematic. Some children felt abandoned when, in fact, the parents were doing the only thing they could to save their children’s lives.

    I’m suggesting we get the children out of harm’s way until the civil war is over—if it ever is. Arab civil wars have a tendency to start, become furious, hibernate, and then start again.

    There is no certainty the Arab parents would even put their children on a kindertransport. RABBI DR. BERNHARD ROSENBERG

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