The following article was originally published here in English on August 28, 2012. The original version was published here in French on August 13, 2012.
The French text of André Gluckmann’s article on Syria and Vladimir Putin, published in Le Monde on August 11, has now been translated (in rather free form) into English.
André Glucksmann, “How Kofi Annan Allowed Putin To Become The Godfather Of Tyrants”, LeMonde/ Worldcrunch, August 14, 2012. from Le Monde, August 8).
Translation from the French, André Glucksmann, “Pendant les JO, la tuerie continue en Syrie,” Le Monde, 11 août 2012 (updated August 13, 2012).
An article by the Trenchant Observer on Glucksmann’s article, with concluding observations, was published here in French on August 13. An English version of that article (drawing on the WorldCrunch translation) is reproduced below.
André Glucksmann, “The killing continues in Syria”—Obama’s debacle in Syria — Update #74 (August 13) (translation)
André Glucksmann, an important French philosopher and writer, writes in Le Monde of August 11, 2012, that while the Olympic Games fascinate the world’s public and the tanks and the planes of Bashar Al-Assad “spoil, by themselves, the pleasure of sensitive souls,”
the resignation of Kofi Annan is received in a complete summer silence. Nonetheless, when the UN peace envoy to Syria threw in the towel, it marked the end of a shameful fiasco. The affable Ghanaian diplomat and Nobel Peace Laureate, who has been both number one and number two in the international organization, displayed goodwill, humanitarianism and pacifism but yielded only catastrophic results.
As the UN’s number two, responsible for peacekeeping operations in Bosnia and Rwanda, his passivity shielded the Hutu’s genocide of the Tutsi people. In 1994, 800,000 civilians were murdered with machetes over a three-month period whilst Kofi Annan refused to send 5,000 blue helmets to stop the genocide. Ten years later, he released a statement saying he could have personally done more to stop the genocide. Rather than being punished, he was promoted to UN General Secretary, a post he would assume from 1997 to 2006. During that time, he didn’t say a word as Vladimir Putin undertook to slash the living population of Chechnya by a fifth.
Were we to believe that this small people of one million inhabitants included 200,000 terrorists?
Glucksmann exlains why one should not have any hope for a change in the policy of Vladimir Putin, reminding us of his history:
Russia’s geriatric communist leaders have been replaced by a KGB member who knows neither scruples nor restraint. You have to be as naïve as a French diplomat or simply obsessed with elections, like Barack Obama and his European counterparts, to imagine for a second that the “executioner of the Caucasus” would bat an eye at the bloodshed in Aleppo, Homs or Damascus. “20,000 have died in a year!” cries the press and the NGOs. “Is that all?” Putin smirks, you can do better, Bashar al-Assad!
Don’t speculate about the charitable sentiments of the Russian leaders. They have felt the wind of the cannonball, offended as they were by the sight of the streets of Moscow submerged by the opposition. Everything that can stop dead the liberating contagion of “the Arab springs” interests the camarilla (entourage of officials) concerned about its own survival. If Putin protects Assad, it is a potential Assad victory that will protect Putin. A bloodily repressed rebellion, like that in Chechnya, would serve as an example and a warning for the Russian people and its close neighbors.
The drama taking place in the Security Council has gone on long enough. We cannot wait forever to see if Putin (and his Chinese comrades) ever becomes a little teary-eyed or if one humanitarian fiber in his body responds to the conflict in Syria. The failure of Kofi Annan is that of an idealist international community: for twenty years it has left its fate up to the phony unanimity of the Security Council, submissive to the diktats of Saint Vladimir, patron of the Lubyanka.
From another quarter, Nicholas Sarkozy, former president of France and the person who provoked the world into undertaking the humanitarian intervention in Libya in 2011, has made strong statements critical of the lack of action by the new socialist president, François Hollande, in the face of the developments in Syria.
See Matthieu Alexandre (avec Matthieu Deprieck), “Sarkozy veut coincer Hollande sur le front syrien,” L’Express, 8 août 2012.
As far as the U.N. is concerned, according to reports, Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon is poised to name Lakhdar Brahimi as the new Joint Special Envoy for Syria, Kofi Annan’s successor.
See Mark Leon Goldberg “Can a New Special Envoy Move Syria Diplomacy?” UN Dispatch, August 13, 2012.
Nonetheles, it is important not to lose sight of some points which are essential for analysis of the situation in Syria:
1. The failure of Kofi Annan was at the same time a failure of Ban Ki-Moon, who has been just as responsible for Kofi Annan’s disaster as Kofi Annan himself.
2. Until now, the Secretary General of the United Nations has shown himself to be totally incapable of organizing actions aimed at putting an end to the barbarism in Syria. He wants to continue the talks of Kofi Annan, with a new chief of interviews.
3. The problem in Syria is a military problem, not a diplomatic problem. To turn it into a problem susceptible of a diplomatic solution in the future, it is necessary now to utilize methods that are more energetic than words.
4. At the present, there is no valid reason for the appointment of a successor to Kofi Annan as Special Envoy. That is the game of the Russians. One must simply not play it!
5. In the event Lakhdar Brahimi is appointed Special Envoy for Syria, (a) he should not accept the position; and (b) in the event he does, the countries which are tired of playing this game with the Russians at the U.N. should not collaborate with him, given the fact that his mission tends to attract all of the attention of the international press to his efforts and to what the Russians think, or say, or accept or do not accept. The time for this should be finished.
6. The Russians, like the Chinese, have played a role of acting in bad faith, of supporting the murderous crimes of the Bashar al-Assad regime. Now, the West and the Arab countries and the other civilized countries of the world should search for a solution to the Syrian crisis on the path of facts, of actions, and never again on the roads of a dream world of formulations of beautiful words.
The Trenchant Observer