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China and Russia Block U.N. Action on Syria

Thirty years after his father massacred tens of thousands of innocent Syrian men, women, and children in Hama, Bashar al-Assad has demonstrated a similar disdain for human life and dignity. [...] Every government has the responsibility to protect its citizens, and any government that brutalizes and massacres its people does not deserve to govern. The Syrian regime’s policy of maintaining power by terrorizing its people only indicates its inherent weakness and inevitable collapse. Assad has no right to lead Syria, and has lost all legitimacy with his people and the international community… – Pres. Obama

Diplomatically, it was Secy. Clinton versus Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, giving dueling public speeches that came before the U.N. vote delivering a double veto. From Clinton at the Munich Security Summit:

Here in Munich, I have had productive discussions with a number of my counterparts concerning a list of critical issues. One that kept coming up is the ongoing violence in Syria. As a bankrupt regime clings to power by shelling its own people in their homes, we have seen a living nightmare play out in the city of Homs. It’s a nightmare that has been repeated across Syria over these past many months. Almost 30 days — almost 30 years to the day after the infamous Hama massacre, the international community must send Assad a clear message: By repeating the horrors of Syria’s past, you have lost your place in Syria’s future.

From the New York Times we get the outcome:

A United Nations Security Council effort to end the violence in Syria collapsed in acrimony with a double veto by Russia and China on Saturday, hours after the Syrian military attacked the city of Homs in what opposition leaders described as the deadliest government assault in the nearly 11-month uprising.

The veto and the mounting violence underlined the dynamics shaping what is proving to be the Arab world’s bloodiest revolt: diplomatic stalemate and failure as Syria plunges deeper into what many are already calling a civil war. Diplomats have lamented their lack of options in pressuring the Syrian government, and even some Syrian dissidents worry about what the growing confrontation will mean for a country reeling from bloodshed and hardship.

According to Reuters, the latest death toll was 217 people.

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5 Responses to China and Russia Block U.N. Action on Syria

  1. Art Pronin February 5, 2012 at 12:12 am #

    SICK. We jumped into Libya but not Syria? Now what?!

  2. fangio February 5, 2012 at 1:13 am #

    I guess the best one can hope for is that when it is over and if the opposition wins it drags Assad from his palace and blows his brains out.  It should also insure that the Alawite sect never again rules Syria.

  3. fairmindedindependent February 5, 2012 at 2:02 am #

    Russia has its own problems, they have their own OWS to deal with. There are massive protests against Prime Minister “President” Putin. Wait until Putin becomes President again, “like he ever left”, this was the guy who claimed the North Pole for Russia, started Russian bombers flying into NATO airspace including ours in Alaska and our territory Guam, you can rest to sure he will be a pain in the a** to President Obama and this country. Russia is still selling weapons to Syria and Syrian military are using tanks, rockets, among other heavy military equipment on citizens of their own country including women and childern.  I am hearing and reading that there have been thousands that have been killed since the uprising began in Syria. With Isreal threatening to use military force on Iran, Not knowing whats going to happen in Egypt and Libya, were looking at a major sh*tstorm brewing in the Middle East.

  4. Joyce Arnold February 5, 2012 at 8:42 am #

    The death count numbers continue to climb, while the convuluted politics of “the Middle East” continue to play out in terms of civilian deaths, one or two or three or however many nations at a time

  5. Stacy February 5, 2012 at 3:19 pm #

    I don’t mean to be the ant at the picnic here, but I’m going to play devil’s advocate. While the slaughter by the Syrian regime is despicable, there are a couple of things worth noting here:

    1. China and Russia are doing exactly what powerful nation states do when faced with a declining superpower- they are staring us down and protecting their own interests. The US does this all the time, but it’s ok because, well, we’re the United States. In addition, China is notoriously averse to chastising other nations for their horrendous human rights abuses because China engages in its own horrendous human rights abuses and always trots out the “don’t interfere in our internal affairs” line (Iran being a recent and unusual exception, but now cooperation on that front is falling apart). Also, that we can’t reign in China on this or many other issues is a result, in part, of the fact that we have become subservient to them because they essentially serve as our banker. Russia is also peeved at us, for a variety of reasons, and as noted above, they are busy trying to relive the good old days of the USSR and probably planning for their future takeover of Antarctica.

    2. It’s time we come up with a coherent foreign policy regarding when we use military action to beat back despots. Our current foreign policy seems to be something along the lines of “we will engage in military action against horrific human rights abusers/nations whom we don’t like while ignoring the human rights abuses of nations we do like, or who at the very least are politically expedient to us so as to justify intervention.” With Libya, our decision to intervene seemed to be based on little other than selective appeals to emotion and the fact that we figured it wouldn’t be too tough a slog. Syria is a totally different matter- just look at their history, a map and the possible consequences of going in and fucking it up. Then there is our hypocrisy problem. That the Obama admin. found and is taking advantage of a neat loophole in order to give the despotic rulers in Bahrain lots of shiny new weapons systems and parts is indicative of just how little we actually care about human rights when it comes to our decision to not only use military action, but whether or not to impose even the most minor consequences for abuses, such as, you know, withholding weapons to autocratic despots. I’m not saying Bahrain is as bad as Syria, but neither is our attention focused there and even if it WERE as bad as Syria, the US government, Saudi Arabia and even our media would likely find lots of good excuses to not go over there and report about it. If we ultimately go into Syria, it will be to secure our interests in the region, not because lots of people are dying- human rights may be used as a pretext, but ultimately other factors will control.

    3. If we are going to march into Syria like we did in Libya, it’s time to start owning up to the fact that the people replacing these autocratic despots are often just a different version of those autocratic despots. Not always, of course, but it’s an issue. When countries that have no political infrastructure because of decades of repression suddenly find themselves leaderless, the chance that some pro-Western, secular leader is going to magically sprout up is a tad unrealistic. Then what? The human rights abuses that are allegedly being perpetrated by the current leaders of Libya- abuses not just during the fighting but continuing to this day- are an example of this problem. It’s all rather awkward and thus the US, Britain and France are now largely ignoring it because it casts a shadow on the afterglow of Our Great Victory. Do you think John McCain, British PM Cameron, French Pres. Sarkozy and Obama want to answer questions about THAT? Basically, you break it, you buy it. Or you just ignore it and move onto the next Arab nation to invade, hoping no one notices your human rights hypocrisy. So if we go into Syria, we need to either have a plan for some sort of transition to our liking (which raises sovereignty questions) or openly acknowledge that because Syria is not our country, we simply are going to shrug our shoulders and leave when all is said and done.

    Now before I get attacked for not caring about the bloodshed in Syria, I do care. But I also care about the ethnic cleansing in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the ongoing violence in Sudan/Southern Sudan (conveniently being ignored by our media) and a lot of other places too. I just think that at this point, pretending that the US is motivated by human rights concerns while ignoring our staggering hypocrisy, is giving the US government a big pass on this front.

    If we want to use military intervention to stop human rights abuses then lets have an open, honest debate about that and insist that the US government (and our allies) answer some hard questions about when and why we go in. It will be an uncomfortable discussion because we’ll have to articulate why some human rights abuses are worse than others, all other things being equal. Also, we need to confront unpleasant issues such as cost, consequence (regional war, ongoing abuses, etc.) and why an already stretched-to-the-limit military should be stretched even further, while we cut social programs and spending here at home. Perhaps if we want to hop from country to country in the Middle East we should have a military draft so that everyone gets to share in the burden? It’s easy to support military action when we don’t have skin in the game.

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