Amidst this week’s Middle East news one startling event has escaped the attention it deserves. According to news reports such as this one in The Wall Street Journal, an American diplomat in Damascus was detained and then “hooded by Syrian security agents and ‘roughed up’ before being released.”
This is a remarkable development. For one thing, it sums up as well as any anything could what the Obama Administration has gained from two years of buttering up the Assad regime, loosening sanctions, letting them into the World Trade Organization, sending an ambassador to Damascus, and making believe Assad is a reformer. It has gained us Assad’s contempt.
How did the United States react to this unprecedented, illegal action against the diplomatic immunity of our Embassy personnel? Why, we “formally protested.” That means we called Syria’s despicable ambassador into the State Department and told him this was terrible and must not be repeated.
That is not a serious response. If I were an American diplomat in a trouble spot, I would be hoping for a lot more than that-for example, in these circumstances, for throwing the Syrian ambassador out of this country. Our own ambassador in Damascus should never have been sent, was sent over the objections of Congress as a recess appointment, and should be recalled immediately.
Indeed. At this point one has to wonder what, if anything, would convince the White House to treat Assad like the enemy that he is — an enemy who, as Lee Smith argues, is as malignant as anything that could concievably replace him.