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Syria violence puts Obama in diplomatic, political tough spot

For Obama, the situation in Syria comes as the war in Afghanistan slogs along, the US tries to disengage from Iraq while escalating its military action in Libya, and the American public is weary of foreign entanglements with no apparent connection to national security.

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For Obama, the situation in Syria comes as the war in Afghanistan slogs along, the US tries to disengage from Iraq while escalating its military action in Libya with the use of armed drone aircraft, and the American public is wary (if not weary) of foreign entanglements with no apparent connection to national security.

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His statement Friday followed increasing criticism of what appeared to be fence-sitting on Syria.

“The administration has sat on its hands despite the fact that the Assad regime is one of the most implacable US adversaries in the Middle East,” the Washington Post editorialized Friday. “As a moral matter, the stance of the United States is shameful. To stand by passively while hundreds of people seeking freedom are gunned down by their government makes a mockery of the US commitment to human rights.”

Blogging in the Daily Beast, Newsweek’s Christopher Dickey and John Barry write that Obama is “missing in action” rather than asserting a leadership role that can’t be avoided by the world’s most powerful nation.

“The drama – the tragedy – increasingly apparent at the White House is of a brilliant intellect who is nonetheless confounded by events, a strategist whose strategies are thwarted and who is left with almost no strategy at all…,” they write.

And yet Obama’s critics have little to suggest other than tougher talk and diplomatic symbolism.

“President Obama should immediately recall the ambassador that he sent to Syria and move to invoke additional economic sanctions,” Republican presidential hopeful Tim Pawlenty urged in a statement Friday. “Moreover, he should instruct the US Ambassador to the UN to call a special meeting of the Security Council to condemn the Syrian regime's murderous conduct.”

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