Posts Tagged ‘Washington Post Editorial’

Washington Post editorial decries “moral bankruptcy” of Obama policy on Syria—Obama’s Debacle in Syria — Update #80 (August 28, 2012)

Tuesday, August 28th, 2012

On August 27 the Washington Post published an editorial regarding U.S. policy on Syria, and the Obama administration’s “stubborn stance of passivity” in the face of the commission of horrendous acts of barbarism.

See Editorial, “Syria’s escalating slaughter,” August 27, 2012.

The Post noted that events such as the massacre last week at Daraya, where over 300 people were reportedly killed, “reflects a deliberate strategy”.

As the Post’s Liz Sly has reported, the Assad regime is seeking to regain control over opposition-held areas by teaching their residents that harboring the rebels will be punished with mass murder. In Daraya, opposition accounts said, government soldiers first drove the forces of the Free Syrian Army from the town with artillery and air attacks, then went house-to-house, rounding up people and shooting them in groups.

The atrocities have resulted in a growing tide of refugees neighboring countries are ill-equipped to handle. On August 30, Turkey is reported to be planning to ask the U.N. Security Council to authorize a “safe zone” for refugees, within Syria.

The Post notes the yawning gap between President Obama’s rhetoric and his administration’s policy on Syria:

Mr. Obama has said that that “preventing mass atrocities and genocide is a core national security interest and a core moral responsibility of the United States of America.” In a speech at the Holocaust Museum in April, he said that “we need to be doing everything we can to prevent and respond to these kinds of atrocities — because national sovereignty is never a license to slaughter your people.” Yet now, as atrocity after atrocity is recorded in Syria, he rejects proposals by aides and allies for even limited and humanitarian intervention. Administration officials reportedly have discussed options for a safe zone, but the president has repeatedly sided with those favoring inaction.

To be sure, Mr. Obama indicated last week that the use or dispersal of chemical weapons in Syria would cross a “red line” which would presumably justify military intervention. But as one Syrian blogger, Ammar Abdulhamid, has written, the drawing of the “red line” may have actually emboldened the Syrian government to act as if nothing short of the use of chemical weapons would draw a U.S. military response.

The editorial concludes,

Mr. Abdulhamid wonders “why slaughter would be deemed tolerable if it happened one way and not another.” It’s a good question — and one for which the administration’s morally bankrupt policy has no answer.

On the moral bankruptcy of the Obama administration’s policy toward Syria, see also these previous articles by The Trenchant Observer:

“Looney Toons” at the White House: New York Times article details Obama’s thinking on Syria—Obama’s Debacle in Syria
— Update #45 (May 27), May 27, 2012.

“The emperor has no clothes”: Foreign policy without a moral core—Obama’s Debacle in Syria — Update #19 (March 29), March 29, 2012.

“Into the Abyss: Washington’s Fecklessness, Syria’s Fate—Obama’s Debacle in Syria — Update #20 (March 30), March 30, 2012.

The Trenchant Observer

For links to other articles by The Trenchant Observer, click on the title at the top of this page to go to the home page, and then consult the information in the bottom right hand corner of the home page. The Articles on Syria page can also be found here.

Syrian forces carry out revenge attacks and targeted reprisals against those meeting with U.N. observers—Obama’s Debacle in Syria — Update #30 (April 25)

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

Latest News and Opinion

Chilling details of reprisals by Syrian forces against those who spoke to U.N. observers are provided by Ulrike Putz, reporting for Der Spiegel from Beirut. Putz describes the targeted attacks in a neighborhood of Hama that were directed against those who had spoken with the U.N. observers or been in the neighborhood. Between 28 and 50 people were killed in Hama in the revenge attack against them following the departure of the U.N. observers.

See Ulrike Putz, “Uno-Beobachter-Mission in Syrien: Wer redet, der stirbt; Uno-Beobachter in Homs: “Sie haben den Tod mit sich gebracht”; Die syrische Bevölkerung zahlt offenbar einen hohen Preis für die Anwesenheit der Uno-Blauhelme. Das Assad-Regime attackiert von den Beobachtern besuchte Stadtteile mit gezielten Angriffen. Niemand soll es anscheinend wagen, mit den ausländischen Besuchern zu reden.”(“Whoever speaks, dies,”) Der Spiegel, 25 Abril 2012.

Putz writes,

“Die Blauhelme waren kaum weg, da fielen die Bomben: “Nachdem die Beobachter abgefahren waren, hat die Armee die Gegend rund um die Alamain- und Mazarib-Straße gestürmt”, berichtet Abu al-Huda al-Hamwi von dem, was am Montag in seiner Heimatstadt Hama im Norden Syriens geschah. “Der Angriff begann mit einem Beschuss, der die Leute mitten auf der Straße überraschte. Die Leichen lagen über Stunden herum”, sagte das Mitglied des lokalen Revolutionskomitees Später sollen Soldaten Menschen aus ihren Häusern geholt und erschossen haben. Auch Gebäude seien in Brand gesteckt worden.

“Als die Beobachtertruppe der Uno sich einen Tag zuvor mehrere Stunden in der für ihre antiken Wasserschöpfräder bekannten Stadt aufhielt, war es ruhig geblieben. Die Bürger in der Oppositionshochburg demonstrierten im Beisein der Blauhelme gegen das Regime Baschar al-Assads, einige Mutige sprachen sogar mit den Emissären der Vereinten Nationen. Die Quittung gab es prompt: “Das Regime wollte die Menschen dafür bestrafen, dass sie eine Botschaft an die internationalen Beobachter gesandt haben”, sagt Aktivist Hamwi. Die Angaben, wie viele Menschen durch den Rachefeldzug umkamen, schwanken zwischen 28 und 50.”

Analysis and Observations

Security Council Resolution 2043 provides:

“The Security Council,

“8. Calls upon the Syrian government to ensure the effective operation of UNSMIS by: …allowing it to freely and privately communicate with individuals throughout Syria without retaliation against any person as a result of interaction with UNSMIS;…”

Like everything else in Kofi Annan’s 6-point peace plan, this provision is a dead letter.

See also

Neil MacFarquhar, “U.N. Observers Prove Little Deterrent to Syrian Attacks,” New York Times, April 23, 2012.

Neil MacFarquhar and Hwaida Saad, “Violence in Syria’s Capital Even With a Cease-Fire,” New York Times, April 25, 2012.

Editorial Board (Editorial), “Where U.N. monitors go in Syria, killings follow,” Washington Post, April 25, 2012.

The Post editorial underlines the fatuous nature of the approach of the U.S. and the Security Council toward dealing with the ongoing atrocities in Syria. Unfortunately, we seem to have a U.S. administration that cannot tell the difference between words and actions. As the Editorial poignantly noted,

It’s bad enough that the Obama administration refuses to learn the lessons of previous failures. More galling is its claim that it has made the prevention of atrocities a priority — as Mr. Obama did Monday in announcing the creation of an “atrocities prevention board.” “We see the Syrian people subjected to unspeakable violence, simply for demanding their universal rights,” he said. “And we have to do everything we can.”

Is sending unarmed monitors to besieged cities and shrugging when the people they visit are murdered everything the United States can do? Even in an election year, the answer has to be no.

We need an atrocities prevention program under military command, now, in real time, with our armed forces converging by land, air and sea on Syria, where this killing will be stopped. Not an advisory board focused on words. We need to focus on deeds.

One has to wonder what kind of information about what is going on in Syria on the ground U.S. offifcials are reading every day.

It is perhaps worth noting that while the Washington Post Editorial Board has demonstrated keen judgment in several key editorials, the reporting of events on the ground in Syria by the Post’s reporters has on the whole been intermittent and undistinguished. This may help explain why officials in Washington don’t seem to have any sense of what is going on in Syria on the ground.

Reading and listening to the news from Syria today, the Observer was filled with a sense of deep foreboding with respect to the future role and efficacy of the United Nations system for maintaining international peace and security. The fault lies not in the institutional architecture which was brilliantly established in the U.N. Charter in 1945. It lies in ourselves, in our current leaders.

The risk of failure is due to a lack of clarity of vision, a lack of clarity of moral purpose when it comes to issues of peace and war, and above all a lack of guts and determination to act to defend the very moral values and legal principles upon which our civilization is founded.

Much more is at stake in Syria than Syria itself.

If we don’t care about the individuals who are being killed in Syria when we could stop it, if we don’t care about stopping war crimes and crimes against humanity when every moral teaching and every bit of our own experience tells us they must be stopped, then who will care for us? Who will care for us when we face adversity? Who will join our coalitions? Who will make common cause with us in defense of our values and our civilization?

The Trenchant Observer

For links to other articles by The Trenchant Observer on this topic, and others, click on the title at the top of this page to go to the home page, and then consult the information in the bottom right hand corner of the home page. The Articles on Syria page can also be found here.