Archive for Smart Power

Our Friends, the Russians

Okay, so maybe Hillary’s embarrassing Reset Button gag went over like a lead balloon:

Nothing cements relations like mutual derision:

Russia is somewhat obsessed with Jen Psaki.

The State Department spokeswoman has turned into Russia’s boogeyman (boogey-woman?) and favorite punching bag as relations with the United States have deteriorated over the crisis in Ukraine.

She is demonized on television. Her gaffes are celebrated widely as internet memes on Russian social media. A popular radio morning show even mocked her in a song set to a popular children’s tune.

“There is nobody more competent than Psaki, nobody more pretty, or smarter,” sang the chorus, sarcastically. The song accused her of peddling “nonsense” to journalists and urged her to “keep it up, we want to laugh more.”

In April, Psaki was taunted by Russian media for using the hashtags #RussiaIsolated and #UnitedforUkraine on Twitter, including sending a photo of herself holding a #UnitedforUkraine sign with a thumbs up. (The Obama administration’s social media campaign on Ukraine, led by Psaki, was ridiculed by some at home as well, including the New York Post and Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas.)

ABC News calls this an “obsession”. But can you blame Russia? Psaki is pure comedy gold.

Yup:

Not just hashtags; sometimes there are bracelets:

Untitled

And perhaps the pansiest response of all:

Untitled

Those aren’t pansies? Sorry.

Anyway, if the French can love us for Jerry Lewis, why can’t Russia love us for Jen Psaki? She’s funnier.

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About Those Sanctions

So, Obama employed the old axiom “when you have them by the balls, their hearts and minds will follow”.

How’d that work out?

President Obama thought he was taking a hard line when he issued sanctions against Russian officials following the Crimean vote to leave Ukraine.

But Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin thinks the sanctions are hilarious.

Rogozin was one of 11 Russian and Ukranian officials hit with economic sanctions today, and responded on Twitter calling whoever drafted the list a ‘prankster’.

In his tweets, Rogozin asks ‘Comrade @BarackObama’ how the sanctions will affect him since he doesn’t have ‘accounts or property abroad’.

Vladislav Surkov, one of President Vladimir Putin’s top aides, was also included on the list and just as ambivalent about his new restrictions.

‘It’s a big honor for me,’ he told a Russian newspaper. ‘I don’t have accounts abroad. The only things that interest me in the U.S. are Tupac Shakur, Allen Ginsberg, and Jackson Pollock. I don’t need a visa to access their work. I lose nothing.’

They’re all dead. What’s he saying?

I’m almost tempted to say they can’t talk about our president that way. But we do, every day.

Carry on!

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Dipsomanic Immunity

A minor story, perhaps, given the chaos, mayhem, and catastrophe we have to cover, but no less enjoyable:

Recently, a colleague of mine from the Foreign Service told me about a former U.S. ambassador to Sweden who, some years ago, had passed out in the snow, too drunk to get up. He had been partying hard during an outing in the countryside. Fortunately, an embassy officer found him in time to save his life. America’s boozy man in Stockholm was a non-career political appointee—no surprise. The fellow who saved him was a professional diplomat. And the roles the two men played that night is emblematic of a familiar routine.

That was the thought I had earlier this week when word came that the Senate Foreign Relations Committee had approved nominations of President Barack Obama’s latest batch of ambassadorial picks—including a couple of first-time diplomats whose cringeworthy performances during their testimony suggested they’ll need to rely heavily on their Foreign Service staff to keep from embarrassing the United States.

When hotel magnate George Tsunis, Obama’s nominee for Oslo, met with the Senate last month, he made clear that he didn’t know that Norway was a constitutional monarchy and wrongly stated that one of the ruling coalition political parties was a hate-spewing “fringe element.” Another of the president’s picks, Colleen Bell, who is headed to Budapest, could not answer questions about the United States’ strategic interests in Hungary. But could the president really expect that she’d be an expert on the region? Her previous gig was as a producer for the TV soap opera The Bold and the Beautiful. She stumbled through responses to Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) like, well, a soap opera star, expounding on world peace. When the whole awkward exchange concluded, the senator grinned. “I have no more questions for this incredibly highly qualified group of nominees,” McCain said sarcastically.

For the purposes of comparison, Norway’s ambassador to the Washington is a 31-year Foreign Ministry veteran. Hungary’s ambassador is an economist who worked at the International Monetary Fund for 27 years.

Obama’s bundler’s and hacks are hardly the first of their kind to put on the striped pants and waistcoats of the diplomatic service. But they are clearly no better. It looks like his extended hand of friendship is expecting its palm to be greased.

The reason a hotelier and a television producer, for instance, might be appealing choices is blindingly obvious: money. Bell raised $2,101,635 for President Obama’s re-election efforts. Tsunis, who flipped his affiliation from Republican to Democrat in 2009, embraced his new party with gusto, raising $988,550 for the president’s 2012 bid.

Among the ambassadors serving in 10 of the choicest cities in Europe and the Caribbean, the average amount raised per posting in the last election was $1.79 million, according to the Guardian newspaper. And the cost for a plush post in a city like Rome, Paris, Stockholm or Canberra seems to be going up. The Guardian reported that appointees to these embassies raised a total of $5 million in 2012, up from $3.3 million in 2008, $1.3 million in 2004 and $800,000 in 2000.

We were expecting so much more from Obama—at least for the Paris posting. He’s selling himself cheap.

Another champ:

And then there’s the recent case of Cynthia Stroum, Obama’s pick to serve in Luxembourg—a Rhode Island-sized NATO ally that has always been a convenient spot to stick political friends and donors. Over the years, real estate moguls, socialites and car salesmen have all washed up in the Ardennes. Stroum, a wealthy Seattle investor, was dispatched there in 2009 after raising half a million bucks to put Obama in the White House (or, $1 for every citizen of Luxembourg). She abruptly resigned in early 2011 after a blistering report from the State Department’s inspector general noted that her embassy “has underperformed for the entirety of the current ambassador’s tenure.” The ambassador’s managerial style, the report claimed, engendered personality conflicts and the embassy was fraught with verbal abuse and questionable expenditures on travel and booze. “At present, due to internal problems, [the embassy] plays no significant role in policy advocacy or reporting,” the report noted, “though developments in Luxembourg are certainly of interest to Washington clients and other U.S. missions in the NATO and EU communities.” So terrorized was Stroum’s small staff that the inspector general recommended the State Department dispatch medical personnel to examine the stress levels of embassy employees. It noted at least four quit or sought transfers to jobs in Iraq and Afghanistan during her tenure, rare moves for diplomats ensconced in cushy European postings.

Let’s keep it real: developments in Luxembourg are barely of interest to Luxembourgers; of none to anyone else in the entire galaxy. But that our career diplomats sought refuge in Iraq and Afghanistan rather than work for the bundling bitch, Stroum, is very enlightening.

Why bring up this amusing but ancient history?

Because Obama is about to top—or bottom—himself:

Obama bundler and nominee to be U.S. Ambassador to Argentina Noah Mamet has never been to Argentina, he revealed at his confirmation hearing Thursday.

“I haven’t had the opportunity yet to be there,” he said. “I’ve traveled pretty extensively around the world, but I haven’t yet had a chance.”

Mamet bundled $500,000 for Obama and the Democratic Party, and he’s not the only friend of the administration to recently reveal little in-depth knowledge of his new country.

But he looks forward to starting a dialogue:

On Friday, a State Department spokesperson couldn’t answer whether Manet could speak Spanish. Asked, she answered, “I don’t have his personal biography in front of me.”

Isn’t this the same guy who said “[I]nstead of worrying about whether immigrants can learn English, they’ll learn English, you need to make sure your child can speak Spanish.”

Do I care that Obama is sending rich fools to foreign hell-holes? I do not. Given its recent behavior, Argentina deserves a fatuous fop like whatshisname. I’d send Charlie Sheen to France if I were president (except that his behavior would be unremarkable over there). But can we remove the cardboard halo from above Obama’s head now? And replace it with a sign that says “ATM: Deposits Only”?

PS: Given who’s running things, I suppose we shouldn’t be upset at the tawdriness of the State Department.


That’s funny, you don’t look Luxembourgan.

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RIP Smart Power

Hillary Clinton was no George Marshall in the job, but next to this boob, she looks like the reincarnation of Thomas Jefferson:

John Kerry invents country of Kyrzakhstan

In an embarrassing slip of the tongue, Mr Kerry last week praised US diplomats working to secure “democratic institutions” in the Central Asian country, which does not exist.

The newly minted diplomat was referring to Kyrgyzstan, a poor, landlocked nation of 5.5 million, which he appeared to confuse with its resource-rich neighbour to the north, Kazakhstan.

The State Department kindly omitted the error in the official transcript of Wednesday’s speech, which Mr Kerry delivered on the eve of his first foreign trip as secretary of state.

Mr Kerry’s flub was all the more awkward, because Kyrgyzstan is a key ally in the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan and a major recipient of US aid, which totalled $41 million (£27 million) in 2011.

As a local radio wag wondered, can Kerry see Kyrzakhstan from his house (which is on a hill after all)?

John Kerry isn’t a dope because he confused two (or more) inconsequential eastern European states. He’s just a dope. This sort of thing is just further proof. He and Biden will make a great comedy team. Add Hagel and we can call them the Three Stooges.

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Fart Power

Childish, I know, but childishness is appropriate in this case.

Now that Egypt has held its latest “elections”, and “overwhelmingly” “approved” its “constitution”, things can get back to “normal”, right?

Pretty much:

A judge is to investigate Mohammed El-Baradei, the ex-head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, along with the former foreign minister and Arab League chairman, Amr Moussa, and Hamdeen Sabahi, a former presidential candidate, over accusations that they campaigned to unseat Mr Morsi during a recent outbreak of unrest.

The announcement by the new chief prosecutor, Taalat Ibrahim Abdallah, who was appointed by Mr Morsi last month, will heighten concerns that the president and his Muslim Brotherhood backers intend to scapegoat political opponents.

It comes two days after a controversial new constitution – denounced by the secularist opposition as a route to sharia law and discriminatory against minorities and women – was officially declared to have been approved in a referendum.

I don’t really have a lot to add, except to say tee-hee. And ha-ha-ha. Oh yes, and snort.

Good thing John Kerry is coming along to save the day. Chortle.

With Hillary’s departure, the era of Smart Power is over. The new era might be called Herbal Essences Power.

The old era of American foreign policy might have been summed up as supporting “our sons of bitches”. The Obama Doctrine, such as there is one, seems to be nothing more than replacing our SOBs with theirs.

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Smart Power, Dumb Broad

No, I don’t really mean that. Hillary is many things—misguided, malevolent, ambitious, dishonest, calculating—but enough praise!

She just plays dumb at the State Department:

China has rejected criticism by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton that it is hampering efforts to end the Syrian conflict by supporting President Bashar Assad’s government.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin said in a statement Saturday that Clinton’s remarks were “totally unacceptable” and that China has contributed greatly to the cause of Syrian peace.

He said China has wide international support for its “just and constructive” stance on Syria.

“Any effort to slander China and incite discord between China and any other country will be futile,” Liu said.

I hate to agree with China, but they’re right. If slandering China were the job of a diplomat, I’d be UN Secretary General for life!

But of course, Secretary Clinton is right too, if belatedly:

Clinton told about 100 nations attending a conference on Syria on Friday that they should “directly and urgently make it clear that Russia and China will pay a price” for standing up on behalf of the Assad government.

What did you do in Syrian civil war, mommy? I attended a conference, honey.

I don’t suppose we have to insist other countries fear us, but is it too much to ask them to respect us?

Yes, I suppose it is. If we don’t respect ourselves…

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Smart Power, Dumb Ass

Did Russia press the Reset Button with its middle finger?

So Russia is arming Syria and Iran, is that right? Dear God, what a mess.

The truth is, not that you’ll read it in the MSM, that under Obama the world has gone to hell in a handbasket. Europe, the Middle East, China, Russia—any one of these and Bush would have been hounded out of office. Instead, the only hound, Bassett by the look of him, is in office.

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Of Czars and Dynasts

You can take the communism out of Russia and China—but evidently you can’t take out the communists!

After four years of Dmitry Medvedev keeping the czar’s throne warm, Vladimir Putin is once again Russia’s president. There were no public celebrations to accompany Mr. Putin’s inauguration on May 7. Quite the opposite. Moscow’s streets had been cleared by a huge security presence; the city turned into a ghost town. This scene came the day after massive protests showed that the Russian middle class rejects Mr. Putin’s bid to become their president for life. With no independent legislature or judiciary at our disposal, Mr. Putin’s impeachment will have to take place in the streets.

Meanwhile, this modern czar is using the full power of the state to stamp out Russia’s growing democracy movement. Two young movement leaders, Alexei Navalny and Sergei Udaltsov, were arrested on May 6 and are still in jail on 15-day sentences. They’ve been charged with “violently resisting arrest,” even though several videos of the arrest show Mr. Navalny with his hands in the air shouting, “Don’t resist! Don’t resist!”

Naturally, the court has forbidden the admission of any video evidence in the case. It is possible that a criminal case will be added against them for “inciting mass violence”—Kremlin code for a political trial.

A similar case in St. Petersburg has even grimmer overtones of KGB repression. Activists of the Other Russia coalition were recently charged with “extremist activity” based on the testimony of agents and informants all in the employ of the Interior Ministry. Their crime is officially described as organizing “public events focused on inciting hatred toward high leaders of state authority”—just the sort of phrase that sends chills down the spine of anyone born behind the Iron Curtain.

We’ve covered China plenty, so this is Russia’s turn. The writer, Garry Kasparov, is a leading human rights figure in Russia—and a former world chess champion (probably the best player since Bobby Fischer’s insanity overtook his brilliance). He doesn’t like the look of the endgame.

The American reaction to the protests and the Putin regime’s vicious response to them was not long in coming. On May 8, with security forces still clearing the streets and raiding cafes, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gave an interview with CNN that made the Obama administration’s position frightfully clear. In a phrase that quickly became infamous here, Mrs. Clinton said she hoped “Russia will be able to continue democratizing” during Mr. Putin’s new term.

The 12 years of Putin rule have marked a steady slide away from democracy in every way, so what message was this outrageous statement intended to convey? Are Russians still supposed to act grateful that we no longer live under Brezhnev or Stalin? Or is this the Obama administration’s way of telling Mr. Putin to carry on, that matters of human rights and democracy are safely off the table as long as NATO can use Russian territory for Afghanistan supply lines?

The myth that Russia and the U.S. have a mutually useful strategic partnership has been promoted by the Americans for years, but the fiction is becoming harder to maintain. Mr. Putin abruptly canceled his trip to the G-8 summit at Camp David and will instead make the first foreign excursion of his new term to the unalloyed dictatorship of Alexander Lukashenko’s Belarus.

Let me say what Kasparov will not (doubtless out of civility): the Obama administration is a… no, I can’t say it either. I would instead observe that what Putin did was a kick in the ‘nads—but we are ‘nad-less.

And not just Hillary. Let me offer Andrew Breitbart’s $100,000 for any, ahem, hard evidence that anyone in this administration has a pair.

PS: I didn’t know that Putin had bailed on the G-8 summit to go to Belarus instead. Has the media covered the story and its implications?

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Outreach Outgunned

A blog I read from time to time, Arlene [Kushner] in Israel, twigged me to this story:

The United States ambassador to Spain recently met with a group of Muslim immigrants in one of the most Islamized neighborhoods of Barcelona to apologize for American foreign policymaking in the Middle East.

U.S. Ambassador Alan Solomont told Muslims assembled at the town hall-like meeting in the heart of Barcelona’s old city that the United States is not an “enemy of Islam” and that U.S. President Barack Obama wants to improve America’s image in the Middle East as quickly as possible by closing the “dark chapters” of the U.S. invasion of Iraq and the war in Afghanistan.

“There are things that the United States has done badly,” Solomont said at the February 28 gathering organized by a non-profit organization called the Cultural, Educational and Social Association of Pakistani Women. “But now the Obama government wants to improve relations with Muslims,” he promised.

The U.S. State Department — working through American embassies and consulates in Europe — has been stepping-up its efforts to establish direct contacts with largely unassimilated Muslim immigrant communities in towns and cities across Europe.

Proponents of Obama’s approach to public diplomacy — some elements of which originated with his immediate predecessor — say it is part of a “counter-radicalization” strategy which aims to prevent radical Muslims with European passports from carrying out terrorist attacks against the United States.

A key component of the strategy is to “empower” Muslims who can help build a “counter-narrative” to that of terrorists. In practice, however, Obama ideologues are crisscrossing Europe on U.S. taxpayer funded trips to “export” failed American approaches to multiculturalism, affirmative action, cultural diversity and special rights for minorities.

Further, American diplomats are repeatedly apologizing to Muslims in Europe for a multitude of real or imagined slights against Islam, and the U.S. State Department is now spending millions of dollars each year actively promoting Islam — including Islamic Sharia law — on the continent.

There’s one main problem with this approach: it’s hard to convince Moslems we’re their friends when we’re killing them. We may be justified in killing them (we are); we may observe that the Moslems we’re killing are the biggest killers of other Moslems (they are); but as the recent killings in Toulouse have reaffirmed, apologies and self-recrimination, let alone reason, do not make you popular among a radicalized ideology with which you are at war.

You may be surprised to learn that the European nations where Obama is doing this outreaching do not appreciate his meddling:

Ambassador William Eacho, an Obama campaign fundraiser turned political appointee, awarded the first prize to a group of students in the northern Austrian town of Steyr who produced a one-minute silent film promoting tolerance for Muslim women who wear Islamic face-covering veils such as burkas in public spaces.

Obama and his team may think they know what is best for Europeans, but according to recent polls, more than 70% of Austrians are in favor of a law that would ban the burka.

In Belgium, U.S. Ambassador Howard Gutman, another Obama fundraiser turned diplomat, told lawyers attending a conference in Brussels in November 2011 that Israel is to blame for Muslim anti-Semitism in Europe.

According to the Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronot, Gutman, who is Jewish, showed conference attendees a video of himself receiving a warm welcome at a Muslim school in Brussels, which he said proved that Muslims are not anti-Semitic. Following a barrage of criticism for rationalizing the growing problem of anti-Semitism in Europe, the U.S. Embassy in Belgium removed the evidence by uploading an amended transcript of Gutman’s remarks on its website.

In France, the U.S. Embassy in Paris co-sponsored a seminar to teach Muslims in France how they can politically organize themselves. Operatives from the Democratic Party coached 70 Muslim “diversity leaders” from disaffected Muslim-majority suburban slums known as banlieues on how to develop a communications strategy, raise funds and build a political base.

The French government — which has been trying to reverse the pernicious effects of decades of state-sponsored multiculturalism — expressed dismay at what it called “meddling.”

I’ll bet they did—especially after Toulouse.

Europeans dismissed Bush as a “cowboy”. What is Obama, but a boy? (We pause here for the requisite outrage at using a racially tinged word. I use it not in that context—obviously—but to seize the theme of his naiveté, his cluelessness.)

As Aggie reports below, we had this maggot in our custody in Afghanistan—where we were killing one brand of Moslem to save another—but handed him over to the French. Okay.

PS: The Toulouse killings were no different from the slaughter in Itamar of the Fogel family—children massacred in the name of Arab nationalism—but who besides the Israelis mourns them?

PPS: Oh, this is Smart Power! Why didn’t you say so?

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There’s No Place Like Homs [UPDATED]

Be it ever so humble:

Listening to Hillary Clinton berate China and Russia for their refusal to condemn Syria’s crackdown on its own people—”It’s just despicable,” she said last week at the anti-Assad “Friends of Syria” conference in Tunis—it’s almost possible to forget that this administration was once eager to get on Bashar’s good side, too.

Not here it ain’t. We quote Madame Secretary every day. And as the sun just rose above the horizon:

“Only a year ago, this country’s government was being vilified as a dangerous pariah,” the New York Times’s Robert Worth reported in March 2009. “Today, Syria seems to be coming in from the cold.” Top administration envoy George Mitchell paid Assad a visit that June, seeking, he said, “to establish a relationship built on mutual respect and mutual interest.”

Then, as the Syrian uprising began a year ago, Mrs. Clinton continued to paint Assad as a “reformer.” It took President Obama more than six months (and 2,000 murdered Syrians) to call for Assad to step down.

Even now, the administration has no plan to get Assad to step aside, other than to call on him to do so. A U.N. resolution on Syria vetoed last month by Russia and China was the usual mush of exhortation and condemnation. Friday’s Tunis meeting ended with a ringing call for, well, nothing: “They still give this man [Assad] a chance to kill us, just as he has already killed thousands of people,” said an opposition fighter in Homs, sizing up what Hillary Clinton’s cheap solicitude means for him and his besieged city.

Compared to this, the position of the Russians is at least intellectually defensible. Say what you will about Moscow’s despotic allies, mercenary interests and autocratic principles, Vladimir Putin has been consistent in sticking up for all three. That’s more than can be said for a U.S. administration that urges democracy, nonviolence and human rights for Syria—and pays nothing but lip service to each.

While calling four-star generals fighting terrorists in Afghanistan and Iraq liars.

[T]he administration has come around to the idea that being on the side of democracy is good U.S. policy. But here’s an irony: Just as it has become the conventional wisdom that Mr. Assad’s downfall is the only way to detach Syria from Iran, the administration has adopted a purely rhetorical attitude toward regime change. I have no doubt Mrs. Clinton has come around to loathing Mr. Assad as much as some wild-eyed neocons did a few years ago. But loathing combined with inaction still amounts to the worst form of indifference: the willful kind.

Which brings me back to Mrs. Clinton’s tirade on Friday. There is a good case to be made that we should apply sufficient military pressure on Assad to help tip the scales in favor of the opposition, as we did in Libya. There’s also a plausible case to be made that the last thing the U.S. needs is another military entanglement on behalf of a cause we barely know for the sake of a goal we can only hazily define.

But there is no case for lecturing Russia on its own long-standing record of engaging its faithful clients in Syria, much less for invoking the suffering of a people she has no serious intention of saving. Even chutzpah has its limits, Hillary.

Case in point:

The U.S. has repeatedly said that it is reluctant to support the direct arming of the dissidents. Why?

Clinton: Well, first of all, we really don’t know who it is that would be armed.

Maybe the real reformers? (File under Smart-Ass Power.)

Running the country and the world (not to mention your mouth) ain’t as easy as it looks, is it?

UPDATE
Elliot Abrams is just crushing.

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A Question

Two American officers shot and killed in Asstan by a Taliban operative; NATO forces retreat in response.

Syria’s “reformer” (according to Hillary Clinton) massacres citizens to such a point, Obama may finally be mobilized to respond.

Iran threatening Israel, acting belligerent, dissing nuke investigators, sowing violence and dissent around the region.

Corrupt, illegitimate Palestinian Arab group (Fatah) seeks unity with corrupt, illegitimate, Islamist Palestinian Arab group (Hamas), rejecting any chance of negotiations with Israel.

Russia threatening to restart arms race, while we plan to cut back our arsenal to starting pistols.

China… don’t get me started.

Is this Smart Power?

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Smart Power for Dummies

It’s a real pity what’s going on in Syria:

“Widespread, systematic and gross human rights violations” amounting to crimes against humanity in Syria have been conducted with the “apparent knowledge and consent” of the country’s “highest levels,” a U.N. commission said Thursday.

U.N. bodies probing the crimes should identify perpetrators and hold them accountable, the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic said, stressing that “urgent, inclusive political dialogue” is needed to end the crisis.

“The government has manifestly failed in its responsibility to protect the population,” the report said. “Anti-government armed groups have also committed abuses, although not comparable in scale and organization with those carried out by the state.”

The commission said it has documented “crimes against humanity and other gross violations.”

It made similar assertions in November, underscoring its belief that policies to mistreat civilians were issued at the “highest levels of the armed forces and government” and that the state is “responsible for wrongful acts, including crimes against humanity, committed by members of its military and security forces.”

November?

Try last March!

Here is a transcript of the March 27 exchange:

10:31AM ET

BOB SCHIEFFER: Madam Secretary, let me start with you. Tens of thousands of people have turned out protesting in Syria which has been under the iron grip of the Assads for so many years now. One of the most repressive regimes in the world, I suppose. And when the demonstrators turned out the regime opened fire and killed a number of civilians. Can we expect the United States to enter that conflict in the way we have entered the conflict in Libya?

HILLARY CLINTON: No. Each of these situations is unique, Bob. Certainly we deplore the violence in Syria. We call, as we have on all of these governments during this period of Arab awakening, as some have called it, to be responding to their people’s needs, not to engage in violence, permit peaceful protests and begin a process of economic and political reform.

There is a different leader in Syria now. Many of the members of congress of both parties who have gone to Syria in recent months have said they believe he’s a reformer. What’s been happening there the last few weeks is deeply concerning. But there’s a different between calling out aircraft and indiscriminately strafing and bombing your own cities than police actions which frankly have exceeded the use of force that any of us would want to see.

Ah well, who among us hasn’t said something so extraordinarily and criminally stupid? It’s like when I said of the sweaty terrorist, Samir Kuntar, that he just had funny taste in facial hair and gestures of greeting:

I thought he was just saying “Hi mom, check out the ‘stache I grew in prison!” I still blush over that one.

Thank goodness Secretary Clinton said this on CBS News’ Face the Nation. If anyone had actually seen it, she’d never live it down!

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