Happy Hour for Assad: The World Community Must Act on Syria
Fear of a civil war is the main reason cited for the global community’s refusal to intervene in Syria. But the longer the West stands on the sidelines as Syrian ruler Bashar Assad wages a brutal campaign against his own people, the greater the chances are that one will ensue.
“Humanity compels us to retaliate against murderers,” the man wrote, “but politics forces us to remain unmoving spectators. Our poorly considered humanity would be more gruesome than our well-considered inhumanity.” These words, which sound like a more elegant version of the Western nations’ tepid statements of solidarity with the Syrian insurgents, were penned 221 years ago by Jean Baptiste Cloots, a baron who had emigrated from the Lower Rhine region to France to join the revolution.
All the same, Cloots’ words are depressingly contemporary. In 1791, it was the residents of Liège who revolted against their regime and looked to France for support, albeit in vain.
Today it is the entire world that looks on helplessly as the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad wages a brutal campaign against its own people, seemingly unable to prevent it from massacring a rebellious population in city after city, attacking residential neighborhoods for days at a time with rockets, shrapnel grenades, snipers and, as it did in Homs, even with knives and hatchets.
The victims’ only crime is that they have been protesting peacefully since March of 2011, first for reforms and freedom, and then for the overthrow of a dictatorship in power since 1970, legitimized by nothing more than a coup and its ability to keep the population in a constant state of fear.
It almost seems as if the world community had exhausted its ability to express empathy with its intervention in Libya, and as if the “responsibility to protect” people against genocide and crimes against humanity resolved by the United Nations General Assembly in 2005 were nothing but a flag fluttering in the wind of changing interests.
The West Masks Its Own Helplessness
The watered-down draft of a resolution against Syria, which Russia and China rejected in the Security Council on Feb. 4, had already been stripped of anything that could have put the Syrian regime in check. It called for neither sanctions nor a freeze on arms shipments to Syria, and it made no mention of a Libyan-style military intervention.
What could such a resolution have achieved, in the presence of a military so determined to crush the rebellion that it murders its fellow Syrians and rapes children in the presence of their fathers? A military whose supreme commander cheerfully tells the United Nations Human Rights Council that the government is merely fighting terrorists and armed outlaws? A regime whose intelligence services fire on government troops who refuse to participate in the killing of civilians, stage fake attacks and fire on their own people in order to pin the blame on the “terrorists?”