Monday, February 27, 2012

The Next Middle East Mess

For nearly a year now, in the links we provide with our weekday e-mail edition and in the other content we provide, we've mentioned the ongoing conflict in Syria. We have watched sadly as the conflict has gone from what appeared to be a bright light in the Arab Spring, to the ugly and bitter beginnings of an internal Syrian war.

If you're surprised, as a reader, to see a cartoon about Syria, or read a commentary about Syria in today's edition, we understand. Stories on Syria didn't grace the print editions or the online front pages of the L.A. Times, the Wall Street Journal, or the Washington Post over the weekend. The New York Times had only a small lead story on Sunday, with the rest of the story tucked inside.

The cable so-called news networks each devoted only one quick segment each to Syria this weekend, and none seemed to concentrate heavily on the ongoing massacre. The best that most media organizations did was to report on the sham constitutional election being held while government forces bomb the hell out of the opposition and innocent civilians.

The Red Cross & Red Crescent have yet to be able to strike a deal with President Bashar al-Assad's government to evacuate journalists and wounded Syrians, and the government forces continue to destroy their own country's infrastructure. The few Western journalists left in Syria are there at the risk of their own lives. Media reports from the region have shrunk to an ever smaller number since the recent killing of three journalists, including French photographer Remi Ochlik and American war correspondent Marie Colvin.

Meanwhile, representatives from more than sixty nations - including U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton - kept trying to discuss ways that they could apply even more outside political pressure to the Assad regime than they already have been, for most of the last year.

In short, things in Syria are a mess.

This situation is not, however, America's mess to clean up, regardless of the inaction on the part of the rest of the civilized world.

As we mentioned in a commentary that drew some sharp comments last year, America is no longer the world's policeman. We can not afford the cost, in dollars, lives, or political capitol - regardless of what those within the military industrial complex are pushing for. President Obama and Secretary Clinton kept America at a significant distance with the Libyan conflict, and should America offer any aid at all in Syria, it should be no more than what was offered in Libya.

We understand - there are those in the world who already are crying for America to clean up yet another nation's mess that isn't our responsibility. Yet the best policy for America, and for the world, is to NOT get involved with the internal conflict in Syria any more than we have to.

America's lack of direct involvement has nothing to do with oil or Iran - though Syria's conflict has elements that could destabilize both.

It has to do with the proper place of America in the world, and in the future, politically.

America may appear to some to be waiting in the wings with mop and bucket in hand, to clean up Pres. Assad's mess in Syria. The truth is, we're merely holding the cleanup tools for the Arab League, the U.N., and the Syrian people.

If other world powers decide they want this Syrian conflict cleaned up in a short period of time, they're going to have to get their own hands dirty for a change.

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