Berlin – Secretary of State John Kerry helped to jump-start the Geneva II international conference to end the civil war in Syria on Wednesday. He correctly pinpointed the main cause of the bloodshed in Syria, blaming the country’s embattled president Bashar Assad as a “one-man super magnet for terrorism” that “will never earn back legitimacy.”
However, the passivity of the Obama administration contributed to al-Qaeda absorbing significant territory in northern Syria and the entry of the Lebanese terrorist entity Hezbollah, on the side of Assad, into the conflict. Obama’s ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power, who earned a Pulitzer Prize for her book on genocide prevention, has been reduced to tweeting about Syria. One can only imagine what the late former ambassador to the U.N. Jeane Kirkpatrick would think of Power’s robust Twitter diplomacy.
Writing in the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday, David J. Kramer and Arch Puddington of Freedom House noted, “the Obama administration has signaled, in words and policies, that the encouragement of democracy is no longer a priority. Witness the administration’s current outreach to the murderous Assad regime.”
Sadly, there is no shortage of examples to bolster their case. Recall Obama’s Atrocities Prevention Board? According to a 2011 White House fact sheet, the board has “the authority to develop prevention strategies and to ensure that concerns are elevated for senior decision making so that we are better to able to work with our allies and partners to be responsive to early warning signs and prevent potential atrocities.”
The board’s efficacy is a kind of mirror image of the efforts to register health-care applicants on the Obamacare website. Last June, Jim Geraghty examined the board in this space. He neatly dissected the empty rhetoric animating it. At the time of his writing, there was an estimated death toll of between 74,000 and 94,000. The current number exceeds 130,000; and the U.N. has simply pulled the plug on its count of the killing in Syria.
The odds are heavily against a resolution of the conflict at the meetings in Geneva. Let’s hope that Obama’s passivity is not replicated toward Iran’s energetic work on the production of its nuclear weapons and long-range missiles.
— Benjamin Weinthal is a Berlin-based Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Follow Benjamin on Twitter@BenWeinthal