Foreign policy wasn’t on the debate agenda last night, but Mitt Romney did say, “What’s happening in the Middle East? There are developments around the world that are of real concern.” Indeed. The latest being that for a second day in a row Turkey has shelled Syria in retaliation for Syrian mortar shells landing in Turkey and killing several people. This is only the latest sign of how the Syrian conflict continues to rage and to spill over Syria’s artificial borders. Yet President Obama seems to be acting as if he could wish the conflict away, presumably because to do anything would be to interfere with his campaign narrative that the “tide of war is receding.”
Though it hardly needs to be said, what is happening in Syria is not only a human-rights disaster but also a very dangerous situation from the standpoint of America’s interests and of America’s allies in the region. It is high time the U.S. and its allies acted more decisively. Yet even as the parliament in Ankara passes a resolution authorizing further military action inside Syria, it is clear that Turkey will not institute a no-fly zone or take other vital steps without American leadership. The region continues to look to Washington for action and instead is met with a “Do Not Disturb” sign. That is pretty disturbing.