Elliott Abrams

Pressure Points

Abrams gives his take on U.S. foreign policy, with special focus on the Middle East and democracy and human rights issues.

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Syria: Greetings From Hezbollah

by Elliott Abrams
May 1, 2013


Hezbollah’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah, spoke about Syria on Tuesday, and it is fair to say that he is not intimidated by American policy. The Nasrallah speech is a reminder that use of chemical weapons is not the only issue we face in Syria; the intervention of Iranian IRGC and Hezbollah troops is another.

They are in Syria already, as press reports have stated–and as funerals of Hezbollah soldiers in Syria confirm. The American reaction has been weak, and certainly has not been strong enough to deter either party, Hezbollah or Iran, from sending more fighters to help save Assad.

As I argue in National Review, loose tough rhetoric is not the answer, for no one wants the President to bluff. Nor can he act if the facts do not support claims he is making. But the facts regarding Syria include, now, 75,000 dead, 4 million displaced, 515,000 Syrian refugees in Jordan (and growing by 60,000 per month), two uses of chemical weapons, the presence in Syria of roughly 5,000 jihadis, and the presence there of Iranian IRGC and Hezbollah soldiers.

The American response, two years into this war, has been pathetic: humanitarian aid went largely through the Assad government until just weeks ago, non-lethal aid has just started arriving, and lethal aid has been ruled out until now. The administration is said to be considering it. And what if Hezbollah and Iran see us and raise us, increasing the number of their fighters in Syria? The President said two years ago that Assad must go, and he said it again yesterday. It always weakens a president, and weakens the United States,when such talk is not matched by a policy that will achieve the stated goal. As I argue more fully in National Review, it is long past time for the President–who has previously rejected proposals from his top advisers for more vigorous action– to adopt and to implement a determined policy that will bring Assad down.

Post a Comment 6 Comments

  • Posted by Dean Smallwood

    Obama talks more and says less than any president in U.S. history .

  • Posted by Larry Snider

    I do not often agree with Elliot Abrams. However, I believe that our President defined US responsibility and must act to build an international response that is clear and resolute. I believe that even if the numbers quoted are high, that the facts dictate the unimpeachable need for the international community to act. In the event that the United Nations is stymied by veto it is necessary to recognize a basic Responsibility to Protect; R2P, which transcends borders as thousands of refugees are streaming out of Syria and thousands more are dying each month. It is difficult to deal effectively with military threats, threats from the diversion and possible utilization of chemical weapons and the enormous cost of rebuilding a workable government in the aftermath of the departure of Assad. But these indigenous difficulties do not excuse Obama, the UN or the international community from the taking the actions necessary to stop the blood bath and to begin to build a positive future for the people of Syria.

  • Posted by Ken Hamilton

    The U.S. government’s foreign policy already has two disasters in Iraq and Afghanistan. The U.S. needs to stay out of Syria to avoid a third one.

  • Posted by Lon W.

    Am liberally conservative in my thoughts on policy. Obama and the Chiefs have been bitten twice and are reluctant for more backlash from an intervention. It sorrows me, yet there is no clear opposition to Assad/power structure. Maybe we should let the peace and love between the shi’a and sunni sort the problem… let the sanctions placed upon the Persians add up too. Would be nice if the Communist Chinese would stop purchasing Persian oil, hey?
    On a personal note, would like to assist “both” factions in Syria sort their problems even though they would not care if an American “Joe” gave his life to help them. The mohammedan’s rhetoric and propaganda expresses everything I need to know. Have to remember… even though am an infidel, capitalist, and though I could use personal improvement… the Syrians have nothing except kindness in their hearts.

  • Posted by Shirley

    I’m sorry that President Obama ever mentioned the words, “Red Line”. Of course, we all are angered and saddened by the inhumanity of Syrians killing their own people, however, America has suffered enough in trying to “democratize” an area of the world that we don’t begin to understand. Enough is enough….let’s take care of our own in our so-called “Democracy”!!

    PS: I’m a Democrat who loves & respects our President….he’s “put upon” by having to make decisions defensively by the Republicans who got us into these “unholy” wars!!! Also, the US has been sending humanitarian aide to the “rebels”….not even sure who are the recipients!!

  • Posted by Dean Smallwood

    Obama feels “put upon” when he has to make ANY decision .

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