Defending the U.S. decision not to intervene in Syria and Bahrain, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton explained on Monday night, “Situations vary dramatically from country to country.”
Clinton told the audience at the National Democratic Institute in Washington that it is fair to ask, “Why does America promote democracy one way in some countries and another way in others?”
Both Middle Eastern countries have witnessed opposition protests against authoritarian regimes, much like the Arab Spring uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya. The Obama administration has called Syrian President Bashar Assad “unfit to lead” and called for him to step down, but has not applied pressure to bring about his ouster. Criticism of the suppression of Shiite protests by Bahrain's monarchy has been more muted.
Clinton said the decision on how to deal with a situation involves a variety of factors, including the risk to U.S. forces. Without the support of NATO, as the U.S. had in Libya, an intervention could come at a “much higher cost,” she said, “perhaps even with troops on the ground.”