I’ve noted in the past that taking advice on Middle East policy from neoconservative stalwart Elliott Abrams is like taking advice on offshore drilling from BP. It won’t always be wrong, necessarily, but there’s a clear past record of catastrophe that you really want to keep in mind.
Abrams has an op-ed in today’s Wall Street Journal with lots of advice for the Obama administration on Syria, some of it sensible, some of it already being done, and some of it simply evidence of the curious neoconservative belief in magic foreign policy wands.
As my colleagues and I wrote back in June, the U.S. has a hugely important role to play in marshaling the international community, in a number of multilalteral venues, against the Assad regime’s abuses. Blake Hounshell and Josh Rogin have a great, informative piece on the state of play in Syria, and the rather narrow range of U.S. policy options for influencing it, as does Hussein Ibish.
But as you read Abrams’ fulminating against the Assad “mafia,” do remember that back in 2002, when he handled Middle East affairs for the National Security Council under the George W. Bush administration, the United States rendered an innocent Canadian citizen, Maher Arrar, to this same “mafia,” who tortured Arrar repeatedly.
Unfortunately, and disgracefully, U.S. efforts to deny Arrar his day in court continued under the Obama administration.