Damascus, the Double Standard

by GADI ADELMAN June 13, 2011
 
President Obama gave a speech on the afternoon of March 19, during his trip to Brazil. He announced that he had “authorized the Armed Forces of the United States to begin a limited military action in Libya in support of an international effort to protect Libyan civilians.”
 
He stated during the speech,
 
“I want the American people to know that the use of force is not our first choice and it’s not a choice that I make lightly. But we cannot stand idly by when a tyrant tells his people that there will be no mercy, and his forces step up their assaults on cities like Benghazi and Misurata, where innocent men and women face brutality and death at the hands of their own government.”
 
“So we must be clear: Actions have consequences, and the writ of the international community must be enforced. That is the cause of this coalition.”
 
Obama also restated that there would be no American troops on the ground during this mission,
 
“As a part of this effort, the United States will contribute our unique capabilities at the front end of the mission to protect Libyan civilians, and enable the enforcement of a no-fly zone that will be led by our international partners. And as I said yesterday, we will not -- I repeat -- we will not deploy any U.S. troops on the ground.”
 
In another speech that President Obama gave on March 28 he reiterated that he had stated there would be no ground troops in Libya and that he had kept that pledge,
 
“Moreover, we’ve accomplished these objectives consistent with the pledge that I made to the American people at the outset of our military operations. I said that America’s role would be limited; that we would not put ground troops into Libya; that we would focus our unique capabilities on the front end of the operation and that we would transfer responsibility to our allies and partners. Tonight, we are fulfilling that pledge.”
 
So why did the Pentagon Channel broadcast just 2 days later on March 30 that over 2000 Marines were deploying to Libya to meet up with “other elements of their unit already in theater”?
 
Putting aside the obvious fact that either the Pentagon or the President were lying since the U.S. obviously has troops on the ground, there was more to Obama’s speech that needs to be considered.
 
Obama summed up in one well stated paragraph the reason why America had the responsibility to act,
 
“To brush aside America’s responsibility as a leader and -– more profoundly -– our responsibilities to our fellow human beings under such circumstances would have been a betrayal of who we are. Some nations may be able to turn a blind eye to atrocities in other countries. The United States of America is different. And as President, I refused to wait for the images of slaughter and mass graves before taking action.”
 
What a beautiful statement “And as President, I refused to wait for the images of slaughter and mass graves before taking action.” How noble.
 
Now with reports coming out of Syria stating more than 1100 civilians have been murdered by the Assad regime why has the U.S. and NATO done nothing more than verbal chastising?
 
The New York Times reported on Saturday about the bombing of the northern Syrian town of Jisr al-Shoughour,
 
Mohamed al-Abdo, a refugee hiding in the hills above town, said he could hear the boom of explosions and the chop of helicopters from miles away.
 
“Helicopters and tanks are bombing Jisr from all the sides and the situation is extremely miserable — they are even targeting cars carrying civilians and the wounded,” he said. Another resident who fled said those who stayed behind feared they would all be killed.
 
Haaretz quoted a witness that the Assad regime is killing soldiers who refuse to shoot civilians,
 
“The policemen told the soldiers to shoot at the people," Moussa recalls. "Some of the soldiers refused to open fire, so they themselves were shot.”
 
Other reports quote Syrian army defectors telling of rape and indiscriminate murder, as well as Iranian and Hezbollah snipers taking part on behalf of Syria,
 
Army deserters who fled to Turkey reportedly claim Syrian soldiers “raped women in front of their husbands and children,” said soldiers were ordered to shoot at unarmed civilians, Hezbollah men serving as regime snipers.
 
One soldier said the "cleansing" in Rastan in Homs caused him to defect. “We were told that people were armed there. But when we arrived, we saw that they were ordinary civilians. We were ordered to shoot them,” he said.
 
“When we entered the houses, we opened fire on everyone, the young, the old... Women were raped in front of their husbands and children,” he said, predicting that there were some 700 deaths, although this has not been verified.
 
The Pakistan Daily Times has placed the figure of Syrian refugees fleeing to Turkey at 4600,
 
Around 4,600 Syrians have fled a brutal crackdown against pro-democracy protesters and are staying in camps in southern Turkey, a government official in Ankara told on Saturday.
 
Last week on Naksa day when Syria claimed that 23 protesters were killed while trying to cross illegally into Israel, the U.N. called for an investigation against Israel and that Israel used excessive force,
 
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said Tuesday she was deeply troubled by reports of use of live fire by the IDF against protesters attempting to infiltrate Israel's border from Syria on Sunday's Naksa Day, commemorating the anniversary of the 1967 Six Day War.
 
“The Government of Israel has a duty to ensure that its security personnel avoid the use of excessive force,” Pillay added.
 
Once again, Israel is blamed for excessive force and all while Assad murders his own people by the thousands with helicopter gunships and tanks.
 
As one who has been outspoken about ever getting involved in Libya, not to mention the Constitutionality of the situation, I have to ask… At what point exactly do “our responsibilities to our fellow human beings”, as Obama said, actually start?
 
Why does it appear that U.S. as well as the U.N. are picking and choosing who to protect? Are the civilians in Syria less important than those of Libya?
 
We have troops in Iraq, Afghanistan and now evidently in Libya as well. The total costs have topped a trillion since the start. Our servicemen and women are coming home without limbs or worse, in body bags. Those that we are attempting to force Democracy on don’t want it any more than they want foreign troops there.
 
It’s time we stopped being the world police, brought our men and women home and concentrated on our own borders, rather than being inside everyone else’s.
 
To quote from President Obama’s speech on March 28,
 
“It’s true that America cannot use our military wherever repression occurs. And given the costs and risks of intervention, we must always measure our interests against the need for action.”
 
Each day it becomes clearer that the U.S. has no real end plan for Libya. As in Egypt, we don’t even know who we are backing. We don’t need to “measure our interests” because we have none.
 
America needs to get out of Libya, stay out of Syria and stop worrying about countries that don’t want our help or democracy. If we continue the only thing we will have to show for it will be more blood of our young men and women.
 
FamilySecurityMatters.org Contributing Editor Gadi Adelman is a freelance writer and lecturer on the history of terrorism and counterterrorism. He grew up in Israel, studying terrorism and Islam for 35 years after surviving a terrorist bomb in Jerusalem in which 7 children were killed. Since returning to the U. S., Gadi teaches and lectures to law enforcement agencies as well as high schools and colleges. He can be heard every Thursday night at 8PM est. on his own radio show “AmericaAkbar” on Blog Talk Radio. He can be reached through his website gadiadelman.com. 
 

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