Not what you expected Obama to say?

Octavia Nasr
Octavia Nasr
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Drama unfolded around Barack Obama’s speech as the world waited for the U.S.’s official position on military intervention in Syria. If you weren’t busy commenting on and analyzing the situation in the past week and you simply observed, you probably came to the same conclusion.

If you didn’t know better you would think the United States is preparing to launch a fierce war on Syria and its people for no particular reason. Somehow the dead, injured, dismembered and displaced have become figures in the back seat, Arab nationalism kicked in and took over most everyone. Comments of support for Syria poured in, not seen or heard in the past two and a half years, denouncing Assad’s tyranny that has caused the shambolic situation in Syria. There is no mourning the loss of life and livelihood in a country that’s considered both a neighbor and sister. Instead, foreign intervention is denounced as if Syria is the glorious fort it once was not that it is enduring mass murder and chemical warfare at the hands of its own leadership!

Inside Syria, families rushed to stock up on food and goods and in Israel people filed long lines at gas masks distribution centers. Jordan moved its fighter airplanes to Aqaba and Lebanon readied itself to absorb even more refugees while Hezbollah fighters were waiting for marching orders into Syria as promised by their Secretary General.

One can only imagine the uproar that would have ensued if Obama had pulled a “George W. Bush” and gone to war immediately without a clear strategy and no exit plan.

Octavia Nasr

Experts hopping from one TV station to the next were so full of themselves predicting the precise day and minute when the “attack” will begin, how long it will last and how wide a scope it will have. All this, without any knowledge whatsoever of what kind of “intervention” this was going to be, nor any idea of its short-term and long-term goals. The world looked like a headless animal zoo for a week, too many opinions but no substance. One had to search really hard to find the rare, level-headed analysts that were not selling confusion and fear to the war-thristy masses.

Somehow, the propaganda machine succeeded in making many in the Arab region forget Bashar al-Assad’s crimes in the past thirty months against his own people and the chemical weapon attack which drove the U.S. to wake up to its moral responsibility. The conversation became an attack on foreign interference in Syria.

Did they not hear Syrians?

I constantly wondered if we were all watching the same massacres, the same divisions, the same destruction and the same human tragedy Syrians have been enduring since 2011. Did people not notice that the west has kept “mum” about the tragic escalation in Syria? Did they not hear Syrians, especially inside Syria, lamenting painfully that the west hasn’t lifted a finger to help them?

No, the U.S.’ decision on Syria did not come in a vacuum. Obama’s address on Syria could not have been any clearer. It exposed the agendas of Obama’s opponents around the globe. It also exposed those that wanted “war” at any cost.

The Commander in Chief of the most powerful military in the world said, “the U.S. should take military action against Syrian regime targets.” As the head of the oldest constitutional democracy, he said will seek approval from Congress, which he will most probably receive after talks.

This level-headed behavior proved to be very civilized, deserving ridicule from many across the world including in the U.S.

One can only imagine the uproar that would have ensued if Obama had pulled a “George W. Bush” and gone to war immediately without a clear strategy and no exit plan. Ironically, this seems to be what many, friends and foes, had wished for!

This article was first published in Annahar on September 3, 2013.


Multi-award-winning journalist Octavia Nasr served as CNN’s senior editor of Middle Eastern affairs, and is regarded as one of the pioneers of the use of social media in traditional media. She moved to CNN in 1990, but was dismissed in 2010 after tweeting her sorrow at the death of Hezbollah’s Mohammed Fadlallah. Nasr now runs her own firm, Bridges Media Consulting, whose main aim is to help companies better leverage the use of social networks.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.
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