Sunday, May 13, 2012

The Obama Government Backs the Atrocity-Producing Forces So How Will it Stop Atrocities?

By Barry Rubin

How can one write satire when the Obama Administration has created an Atrocities Prevention Board to prevent mass murder and genocide at the same time as it has been largely supporting the forces most likely to commit mass murder and genocide? We can almost call these regimes the Organization of Atrocity-Exporting States (OAES). 

With the exception of Libya—an issue I’m not going to debate in this article--the Obama Administration has been distinguished by its accommodation with those who have committed and are most likely to commit atrocities.

For example, Obama gave a speech in Afghanistan welcoming into political life those members of the Taliban who would renounce violence and obey Afghan law or, more accurately, those who would say such things for just long enough for the American military to leave the country. But the administration has been negotiating with a Taliban that has done neither and has no intention to stopping its violence or accepting the current regime. It has committed past atrocities, including complicity in the September 11 attack which would presumably be pardoned.  No matter what it pretended, the Taliban would put Afghans under an oppressive regime again if—or should I say as soon as—it has the chance. My June 2011 article on Obama's Afghanistan policy remains quite relevant.

Once again in his speech, Obama made the deadly error of claiming that, in effect, al-Qaida is America's only real enemy in the world. Even the Taliban (whose name he cannot pronounce correctly) is redeemable, though it answered him with a suicide attack in Kabul. As for Obama's other claims (international consensus for stability in South Asia, etc) he can't even get Pakistan to stop supporting the Taliban and concealing al-Qaida leaders. And India has been treated by Obama in a manner reminiscent of his policy toward Israel.

So is his administration working to prevent atrocities and is al-Qaida America's only enemy?
Let's start with the terrorist group Hamas which governs the Gaza Strip and has committed atrocities, keeps trying to do so, and openly advocates genocide against both Israel and Jews. The Obama Administration has opposed a serious effort to overthrow it, has accepted de facto its coalition with the Palestinian Authority, and pressed Israel in the past to reduce sanctions to a minimum.

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Regarding Lebanon, the Obama Administration has ignored a law precluding interaction and aid to a government that includes a group—like Hizballah—on the State Department terrorism list. It has not been bothered by investigations showing Hizballah involvement in assassinations in Lebanon.  The 2006 UN ceasefire, in which the United States played a leading role, promises to keep Hizballah from building up a military zone in the south and to help prevent its importing weapons from Syria. Yet this has not prevented U.S. officials from dallying with Hizballah.

Among others, General David Petraeus, Rear Admiral Gregory Smith, and Ambassador Ryan Crocker have testified in detail about how Hizballah has committed terrorist attacks against Americans in Iraq and elsewhere in addition to training terrorists.

In Syria, the Administration didn't just engage but actually rewarded the Arabic-speaking world's worst dictatorship. On one notable occasion, junior administration staffers visiting Damascus sitting within screaming distance of the prisons known for torture, tweeted away about what a good time they were having and how great the coffee tasted.  And what about the Muslim Brotherhood, elected by the graduating class at Terrorism High School the group most likely to succeed in committing really big atrocities? Every day its leaders and publications pour out bloodthirsty hate and support for violence. And every day the Western mass media tells us it is moderate and has renounced violence.

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I could go on to recount the White House’s softness on Sudan, arguably the most atrocity-generating government in the world. Obama has, however, announced his profound opposition to the Lord’s Resistance Army, an east African group that has not surfaced for years. It apparently has two advantages: it isn’t revolutionary Islamist and it probably doesn’t exist any more.

The Board is to be headed by Samantha Power whose pre-Libya ideas about atrocities seemed to revolve largely around blaming Israel exclusively.  Meanwhile, the U.S. government continues to participate and legitimize a UN human rights' council run by and for atrocity-producing states. It has been largely silent on Iran, late and ineffective on Syria, has worked to save the Hamas regime in the Gaza Strip and empower the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, and was on the wrong side in the Sudan and a number of other countries.

That all of this was announced at the Holocaust Museum in Washington DC adds to the bad taste and bad faith of the whole enterprise. And by the word “enterprise” I’m not just referring to the Atrocity Prevention Board.

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His book, Israel: An Introduction, has just been published by Yale University Press. Other recent books include The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan). The website of the GLORIA Center  and of his blog, Rubin Reports. His original articles are published at PJMedia.

A version of this article was published in the Jerusalem Post. I own the rights and ask you to read and link to the version here.     

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