In response to the Arab Spring uprisings, the US has been taking the traditional diplomatic approach of “leading from the shadows, doing many things in private and saying little in public,” writes PJ Crowley in the Washington Post. But these uprisings, fueled by social media, are not quite traditional, and it’s time for the Obama administration to step out of the shadows and take a stand. Syria is the perfect place to start: Obama must call on President Bashar al-Assad to step down.
Anything less could reduce our credibility—and, down the road, our influence. For example, despite the US' behind-the-scenes maneuvering in the ouster of Hosni Mubarak, public opinion in Egypt “gives the United States little if any credit," writes Crowley. "By again taking the lead, the president will restore faith with those who continue to stand up to repressive regimes, not only in Syria but across the region." Of course the Obama administration doesn’t know what might come after Assad, but Assad, “the 'devil we know,' not only violates the universal rights of his citizens but also constrains crucial US national interests.” It is time, Crowley concludes, “to get off the fence and on the right side of history.”