Reporting from Libya and Syria is controlled and therefore sketchy, but videos show that Muammar Qaddafi’s artillery has bombarded Misurata and Bashar Assad’s security forces have shot up Deraa and other towns in Syria. In a display of random violence snipers in both countries are picking off men and women venturing out. Destruction of buildings and murder of individuals may look like mindless brutality but they have the exemplary purpose of showing that these two dictators are ready and willing always to crush opposition by taking whatever measures are necessary. In their perspective, massacre, terror, hostage-taking, hijacking, Lockerbie bombings, are merely instrumental.
It follows that the only way to deal with the Qaddafis and the Bashars is through force superior to anything available to them. That is how Saddam met his end. The “international community” — that strange fiction — has made sure to limit and constrain the force to be used against Qaddafi, and therefore it further follows that some sort of stalemate is the best to be hoped for. That same “international community” has decided that Bashar must be left to do his worst and pay no cost. At a minimum, Ambassador Ford, the Obama administration’s gift to Bashar, should be recalled, sanctions increased, and Syria placed in political quarantine. Instead, Mrs. Clinton describes as a reformer a man who rules by an emergency law that has lasted four decades, and whose security forces are blithely killing unknown numbers.
In 1983, Reagan sent American troops to keep the peace in Lebanon. When a suicide bomber attacked and killed many of them, the force was withdrawn. A single bomb thus proved more powerful than the United States. Hezbollah quickly filled the political vacuum and the balance of power in the Middle East began what has been a steady tip against the West.. And should Qaddafi and Bashar today subdue their people and remain in power, dictatorship will thrive as before throughout the region, the present turmoil will have come to nothing, and democracy will have hollowed out that much more.