Opinion: Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad to Obama: What?

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WARNING: This story contains references to the Obama administration’s repetitious and meaningless diplomatic warnings that may be disturbing to some.

Every now and then the Obama administration likes to warn somebody about something. (Scroll to bottom for partial list.) It looks like real action -- even tough -- and sounds pretty good for a news cycle or two. However, like calling for immigration reform or more college education, it doesn’t really accomplish anything.


Wednesday, the Obama administration tried to get really, really tough on Syria for repressing democracy demonstrators, reportedly killing upwards of 1,000 so far. This White House began warning Syria and its president with the unsuccessful moustache back when the reported victim count was in the dozens.

But Wednesday the American administration seemed to get serious. It slapped....

... financial sanctions on Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad and six of his pals. And the media duly reported the action. Here’s the problem with that deal: With months of warnings, the Syrian ophthalmologist-turned-dictator and his cronies don’t have enough money left in the U.S. to buy a kabab.

Given the proclivities of pouting American pols for phony PR gestures -- think Jimmy Carter boycotting the Moscow Olympics -- no bad guy with half a mind would put any loot in a U.S. credit union CD.

We froze Col. Kadafi’s assets over here a while back and all he did was change hats.

But there’s a larger lesson to learn from this, both for Obama’s foreign warnees and American voters not yet counting down the 537 days to the 2012 referendum on Obama’s 2008 promise plethora:

This Democrat’s warnings are as empty as his house back on the South Side of Chicago. As long as he or Jay Carney are issuing renewed warnings about ‘unacceptable behavior,’ you’re good to go.

It’s when Obama stops warning that folks need to watch out.

Even with an American-made helicopter crashing in his yard, Osama bin Laden got caught in his jammies. No warning there. And although the White House raid accounts kept changing, it sounds like those non-negotiable SEALs gave the Al Qaeda founder about as much warning of his imminent departure from life on this Earth as his henchmen gave their thousands of victims over the years.

Or how about the war with Libya? Everyone sees Obama pack his daughters, his wife, her mother and her friend onto Air Force One for a trip down to Rio. And, suddenly, kablam, more than 120 Tomahawks are exploding all over Tripoli and suburbs, at $1.5 million per bang.

Obama aides were busy Wednesday afternoon selling the import of their boss’ speech this morning on the Mideast and North Africa. The setting will be the State Department, which guarantees a respectful reception.

The goal is for the president to step back and look at the numerous changes across the region in the last six months and announce how the United States can help foster the growth there of both the economies and democracy following the so-called Arab Spring. As usual, we’ll have the full text up here later today.

Tomorrow, speaking of the Mideast, the presidentmeets with Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to see if those talks can be re-started.

Obama will also re-visit the Central Intelligence Agency for a happier occasion than his previous Langley stop 15 months ago. Back then he was sharing the agency’s grief for the loss of seven operatives in an Afghanistan suicide bombing. His redacted remarks that wintry day are here.

This time he’ll be thanking them for their years of work that led to the slaying of Al Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden during the night of May 1.

Assorted Obama administration warnings:

Jay Carney again on Syria’s ‘unacceptable behavior’

Again, Obama warns Syria

Now, Obama warns Syria about violence

Yemen president gets stern warning from Obama press secretary

Obama changes mind on causing regime change in Middle East

New Obama warning to Libya: Stop right now

Obama warns Libya and Bahrain

Obama re-warns Libya: ‘The violence must stop’

Enough with warnings, Obama finally sanctions Libya

Obama takes a day off from warnings to praise Algeria, Motown

Next, Obama warns Libya: ‘This violence must stop’

Now, Obama warns Bahrain, Yemen and Libya

Obama warns Egypt’s Mubarak: ‘No going back’

Obama warns Mubarak: ‘Suppressing ideas never makes them go away’

-- Andrew Malcolm

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