Moral cowardice in Europe and elsewhere: Bad-faith arguments on Syria by Germany and other countries lacking the courage to act

(Developing article)

Following are the statements and ways German and other European and world leaders use to disguise the moral cowardice of nations that give lip service to universal ideals of truth and justice, but are nowhere to be found when action is required to put those ideals into practice.

1. Military action against Syria would violate the U.N. Charter unless it were backed by an authorization from the Security Council.

Is there anyone making this argument who sincerely believes it will help solve the Syrian crisis, and bring to a halt the atrocities being committed by al-Assad in that country?

Is there anyone unaware of the Russian and Chinese vetoes of draft resolutions in the Security Council, and Russia’s current role in the Council of blocking any effective action?

2. What is needed in Syria is a negotiated solution, which should be achieved through the Geneva II peace conference backed by U.N. Special Envoy Lakhdar Brahimi and U.N Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon.

Has no one studied the history of Kofi Annan’s “castles in the sky”, or failed to understand how he was helping the Russians defer any outside action through his illusory peace proposals, and his last illusion of convening a peace conference in Geneva, to which everyone gave lip service on June 30, 2012—not because they thought it would work, but rather to gain diplomatic cover for looking the other way and doing nothing?

3. Arguments about Syria that proceed from the assumption of a tabula rasa, as if there were no history of what has happend in Syria in the last two and a half years.

So, we can debate whether the rebels gassed their own people, despite the overwheming evidence of this and previous attacks by the Syrian government, and the entire history of al-Assad’s armed forces’ actions in the conflict since 2011.

Why does anyone even listen to the arguments of Russia, Syria and Iran? How stupid can we be?

4. Failure to speak frankly and forthrightly about what is really going on in Syria. and in the United Nations and the Security Council. (Bravo! to Samantha Power for speaking out!)

See Jennifer Rubin, “Hats off to Samantha Power,” Washington Post, September 6, 2013 (8:45 a.m.)

5. Failure to interrupt and immediately rebut statements that are no more than propaganda–propaganda which falls far short of the standards set by Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s propaganda minister.

No nation bears greater responsibility for its silence than does Germany, as no nation has a darker history of violating these universal ideals in the past–until 68 years ago, in fact, until 1945. Nor should we forget how Germany blocked decisive action in the Balkans prior to Srebrenice and the Dayton Accords in 1995.

German complacency about war crimes and crimes against humanity in Syria reminds us, sadly, of how complacent Germans were when these same crimes were taking place in their midst.

Obama and other leaders of the feckless West share a huge responsibility for shaping public opinion to support their policies of looking the other way and doing nothing when faced by the utter barbarism of Bashar al-Assad.

Now they must explain to their populations what has actually happened in Syria since 2011, in great and bloody detail, and rally their peoples to confront the greatest threat to Western values of our time.

This threat also engages our most vital national security interests. Tel Aviv is only 134 miles from Damascus. Damascus is closer than we think:

Beirut, Lebanon — 53 miles
Amman, Jordan — 110 miles
Tel Aviv, Israel — 134 miles

If Germany and NATO want to stand idly by, at this critical moment, then the U.S. should give the most urgent consideration to withdrawing from NATO–both militarily and financially.

It is time for the moral cowards in Europe and elsewhere to wake up, and to seek to hear, to speak and, above all, to act upon the truth regarding the situation in Syria, and what has been going on there for two and a half years, as the world averted its eyes.

The Trenchant Observer

About the Author

The Observer
"The Trenchant Observer" is edited and published by The Observer, an international lawyer who has taught International Law, Human Rights, and Comparative Law at major U.S. universities, including Harvard, Brandeis, the University of Pittsburgh, and the University of Kansas. He is a former staff attorney at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of American States (IACHR), where he was in charge of Brazil, Haiti, Mexico and the United States, and also worked on complaints from and reports on other countries including Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Guatemala. As an international development expert, he has worked on Rule of Law, Human Rights, and Judicial Reform in a number of countries in Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, and the Russian Federation. In the private sector, The Observer has worked as an international attorney for a leading national law firm and major global companies, on joint ventures and other matters in a number of countries in Europe (including Russia and the Ukraine), throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, and in Australia, Indonesia, Vietnam, China and Japan. The Trenchant Observer blog provides an unfiltered international perspective for news and opinion on current events, in their historical context, drawing on a daily review of leading German, French, Spanish and English newspapers as well as the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and other American newspapers, and on sources in other countries relevant to issues being analyzed. The Observer speaks fluent English, French, German, Portuguese and Spanish, and also knows other languages. He holds an S.J.D. or Doctor of Juridical Science in International Law from Harvard University, and a Doctor of Law (J.D.) and a Master of the Science of Law (J.S.M.), from Stanford University. As an undergraduate, he received a Bachelor of Arts degree, also from Stanford, where he graduated “With Great Distinction” (summa cum laude) and received the James Birdsall Weter Prize for the best Senior Honors Thesis in History. In addition to having taught as a Lecturer on Law at Harvard Law School, The Observer has been a Visiting Scholar at Harvard University's Center for International Affairs (CFIA). His fellowships include a Stanford Postdoctoral Fellowship in Law and Development, the Rómulo Gallegos Fellowship in International Human Rights awarded by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, and a Harvard MacArthur Fellowship in International Peace and Security. Beyond his articles in The Trenchant Observer, he is the author of two books and numerous scholarly articles on subjects of international and comparative law. Currently he is working on a manuscript drawing on the best articles that have appeared in the blog.

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