Secretary of State Hillary Clinton explained to an Italian journalist why Libya’s Muammar Qaddafi has to go but Syria’s Bashar Assad should stick around:
“There are deep concerns about what is going on inside Syria, and we are pushing hard for the government of Syria to live up to its own stated commitment to reforms,” she said. “What I do know is that they have an opportunity still to bring about a reform agenda. Nobody believed Qaddafi would do that.”
Actually, Hillary Clinton herself not only believed Qaddafi would do that. She believed he did. This is from her address at the Council on Foreign Relations in July of 2009:
As long as engagement might advance our interests and our values, it is unwise to take it off the table. Negotiations can provide insight into regime’s calculations and the possibility, even if it seems remote, that a regime will eventually alter its behavior in exchange for the benefits of acceptance into the international community. Libya is one such example.
Two years ago, Qaddafi was her engagement poster-boy. Today, he is the bad actor’s bad actor, while Bashar the butcher just needs a little time to let his cuddly side show.