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The one thing that Syria’s president Basher Assad likes about the United States is President Obama himself. “I want to distinguish between the person of Obama and America in its capacity as a state. The president has good intentions . . . but then there is Congress, the lobby, which intervenes in our relationship, sometimes positively, sometimes negatively,” he said in an  interview published this morning in Italy’s leading daily La Repubblica .

The Obama administration’s penchant for bashing its allies while crawling to its enemies evokes utter contempt from the world. The national security establishment is watching in horror as America’s influence in the Middle East evaporates. Turkey is allied with Iran and doing everything it can to sabotage sanctions against Iran; America’s pullout from Iraq all but guarantees the emergence of an Iranian satrapy; Afghanistan is doing badly; and America’s one ally in the region, Israel, is the administration’s whipping boy. Obama’s West Point commencement address over the weekend was a defeatist manifesto, as I wrote  yesterday on the Spengler blog.

The great division in Washington now lies between the national security establishment, and President Obama who—as Sen. Joseph Lieberman reportedly said in a contentious May 19 meeting with Congressional Democrats—is sacrificing America’s most important alliances in order to repair relations with the Muslim world.

Syrian President Bashar Assad, the proprietor of one of the world’s nastiest rogue regimes, took America’s credibility to a new low. In an AFP summary , this is what Assad had to say:

The US has lost its influence in the Middle East peace process despite the hopes raised by US President Barack Obama, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said in an interview published Monday by Italian daily  La Repubblica .

Assad added that a new era has begun in the Middle East, including an understanding between its major powers that was reshaping the region. He pointed to a similar phenomenon throughout the world, with countries such as China and Brazil refusing to wait for Washington to “hand out roles” and noting that Russia was trying to rebuild its own role in the region.

On relations with Israel, the Syrian leader said that if Tel Aviv was ready to return the Golan Heights to Syria, then “we would not be able to say no to a peace treaty.” However, he added that any deal would have to include a complete solution of the Palestinian issue, saying that he thought Israel was “not ready for an accord at the moment.”

Assad told the Italian newspaper (I translate) that “it is merely a matter of becoming aware of a fact: that America and Europe have failed to solve the problems of the world. This failure leads necessarily to other alternatives: a geostrategic map that aligns Syria, Turkey, Iran, and Russia, in a community of politics, interests and infrastructure. It takes the form of a single space that unites five seas: the Mediterranean, the Caspian Sea, the Black Sea, the Arabian Gulf and the Red Sea.”

What about the United States?, asked the interviewer. Assaid replied, “America has no influence now, because it’s not doing anything. Of course, it remains the sole great power. If it wanted a role in the negotiations [between Israel and Syria and the Palestinians] it would be decisive in the final phase, when it would serve as a guarantee of the international community.” What about the “proximity talks” between Israel and the Palestinians? “Everyone knows this won’t lead to anything. The Arabs, Palestinians, the Persians and the Americans know it. In Washington this is admitted privately. The present Israeli government isn’t trusted.”

Nonetheless, Assad believes in the “good intentions” of President Obama against “l’America in quanto Stato” — America as a state. Do we have to hear this from a murderous terror-supporting tinpot dictator to believe it?

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