President Barack Obama on Wednesday bypassed Congress to name the first US ambassador to Syria in nearly six years, part of his Middle East engagement drive criticized by his Republican opponents.Barry Rubin comments:
Obama took the controversial step of forcing through the appointments of Ambassador Robert Ford and five other officials while the Senate -- which normally needs to confirm nominations -- was out of session.
A senior administration official traveling with Obama on vacation in Hawaii justified the recess appointments, which are certain to irritate Republicans after both sides spoke of bipartisanship in the waning days of the last Congress.
Speaking of Syria, while the Saudis are so worried about the United States being too soft on Syria and Iran that they are trying to cut their own deal surrendering Lebanon to the Syrians, what does President Barack Obama do? Why, of course, he is in such a hurry to name a U.S. ambassador to Syria that he bypasses Congress and does a recess appointment! Even though he has gotten nothing from Syria after two years of engagement.Or maybe the US is just a fan of Bashir Assad's comedy act.
What this technique does, of course, is shield the Syrian dictatorship from any criticism by Congress. If this administration had more sense it could have used the harder line from Congress as a rationale to get tougher on Syria. But instead of a "good cop/bad cop" approach we get a Keystone cop approach. (Note below)
The administration has argued that sending a U.S. ambassador to Syria is not a gift to that dictatorship (which is helping to murder Americans in Iraq, sponsoring Hamas and Hizballah, and helping Iran in every possible way) but a necessity to have a channel through which the United States can communicate with Damascus. But since this U.S. government only wants to communicate flattery and concessions it is hardly worthwhile.
Indeed, have no doubt that everyone in the Arabic-speaking world will interpret this as a Syrian victory. That's why this action is also worthy of a Dopes of the Day award.