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Opinion page editor Rick Holmes and other writers blog about national politics and issues. Holmes & Co. is a Blog for Independent Minds, a place for a free-flowing discussion of policy, news and opinion. This blog is the online cousin of the Opinion ...
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Opinion page editor Rick Holmes and other writers blog about national politics and issues. Holmes & Co. is a Blog for Independent Minds, a place for a free-flowing discussion of policy, news and opinion. This blog is the online cousin of the Opinion section of the MetroWest Daily News in Framingham, Mass. As such, our focus starts there and spreads to include Massachusetts, the nation and the world. Since successful blogs create communities of readers and writers, we hope the \x34& Co.\x34 will also come to include you.
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By Rob Meltzer
Sept. 11, 2013 11:05 a.m.



I heard an interesting interview this morning on Al Jezeera, and I apologize for not getting the name, but he is an academic and foreign policy expert at Cairo University who used to be in Washington until the fall of Mubarek allowed him to come home, and his name had lots of “als” and “Mahmuds” in it.

Anyway, he was commenting on a topic I had raised a few days ago–that the Syrian episode (he said in his mind since Obama never had the support of  Congress or the world for air strikes that this never rose to the level of “crisis) demonstrated a couple of interesting seismic shifts in global politics which Obama and the United States would be wise to think about. The first is the growing divide between Israel and the United States and how these countries react to Assad. He pointed out that the failure of the United States to take immediate action against Syria actually should scare Iran, not satisfy Iran because the United States has actually served as a safety valve against Israel taking immediate military action against Iran, and it now appears that the United States has less sway than previously thought. Equally, this situation demonstrated a growing divide between American Jews and Israeli Jews, a point I also made this week, that Israel is now very much a Middle Eastern country and not the European country it was even five years ago.

But this analyst was also commenting on the growing divide between the United States and Saudi Arabia, that the royal family really doesn’t like what it has seen in Egypt, Lybia and Syria, and the American response to them. Let’s face it–Saudi Arabia is one of the last remaining truly fascist countries in the world, and if you don’t like Assad, you gotta dislike the Saudis, particularly now that their oil is less important to us. As the analyst was pointing out, we only call Saudi Arabia “Saudi” because of the name of the royal family, and if  you like Syria you are going to love civil war era Arabia. Will the United States abandon the bin Saud family in the name of democracy and the need to overturn tyrants.

The other point he was making was that Obama has been extremely disingenuous about American interests in Syria. The rebels are the ones truly involved in war crimes in Syria right now. Not only are the Alawites being attacked, but the rebels are making a serious and concerted effort to drive out Christians who have been in Syria for nearly 2000 years. Many of the refugees and internal displaced persons, are Christians, and it is quite likely that whatever emerges in Syria is going to be a whole lot less Christian that it used to be. Obama ignores the fact that Assad in some odd sort of way has become the defender of the Christian faith in Syria, and Obama’s attack on Assad is costing Obama Christian support at home and abroad. As he noted, look at the ethnic Chaldoneans in Iraq, the Maronites in Lebanon, the Copts in Egypt. And now the Christians of Syria.

His final point was that the United States needs to seriously consider whether the UN is still relevant to American foreign policy.  If the Senate is going to ratify treaties, and those treaties are going to be enforced by collective security organizations, then the United States either has to be bound by those treaties or it needs to withdraw from them. The United States wants a permanent seat on the Security Council when the bad guy is Iran or Iraq, but it wants to ignore the Security Council other times. He also made some references to American wars going on in Honduras and Guyana which I guess I wasn’t aware of and have to look into, but his point was that the United States has a lot of boots on the ground in wars where the US doesn’t belong, so Syria is more along the lines of what has become typical,not what is aberrational.

Lots to think about.

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