Obama is batting .000 in the engagement-of-despotic-regimes department. Iran, China, Sudan, and Burma have not responded to kind words, bows, or promises of future good relations with the U.S. And now Syria has officially — according to Obama — rebuffed us as well. This report explains:
U.S. President Barack Obama said on Monday he would extend a national state of emergency over Syria for another year, citing the Arab state’s continuing support for terrorists and pursuit of weapons of mass destruction.
Obama’s decision means that despite Washington’s recent attempts to ease tensions with Damascus, United States economic sanctions against Syria, introduced in May 2004, will remain in force.
“While the Syrian government has made some progress in suppressing networks of foreign fighters bound for Iraq, its actions and policies, including continuing support for terrorist organizations and pursuit of weapons of mass destruction and missile programs, continue to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States,” Obama said in a statement.
So the administration has now admitted failure — really, how could the Obami do otherwise? Even left-wing Haaretz must concede:
The Obama administration’s strategy of engagement has so far produced disappointing results, with Assad this year hosting Iran’s virulently anti-American President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in a high-profile Damascus summit, alongside leaders of the militant groups Hamas and Hezbollah – both on the State Department’s list of terror organizations.
In April tensions soared further following Israeli claims that Syria had supplied Hezbollah militants in Lebanon with advanced Scud missiles capable of inflicting heavy damage on Israel’s major cities – an accusation Damascus denies.
So what now — will the Obami decide to forget about returning an ambassador to Damascus? That, at least, would make the administration’s stance less incoherent. But the real issue remains — what will we do to replace the failed engagement gambit? Come to think of ,it that’s the dilemma with all the regimes that have slapped the open hand.