The world is bewailing the horrific events in Aleppo, Syria – the vicious bombardment by Assad’s regime and his willing executioners, the Russians, of the city of Aleppo. Having utterly destroyed every hospital and clinic in the area, they are now aiming directly at anyone left alive in the city, even if (or perhaps specifically because) they are women and children.
The pictures coming out of Aleppo are indescribable in their horror. The utter devastation of the city, the terrified faces of fleeing civilians, the despair of those left with nowhere to go and unable to flee. The stories too are equally stomach-churning: descriptions of bombings, shootings, summary executions, orphaned children left to die with no one to take care of them.
After the Holocaust the world swore “never again” – but here we are – yes, again. No, it’s not a Holocaust, but most certainly multiple war crimes. And if it is not yet a genocide this is merely a matter of scale, not intention.
And like during the Holocaust there was so much the world could have done, but didn’t, in order to prevent this mass-murder.
Yesterday, the US Ambassador to the UN, Samantha Powers, slammed the Russians and Syrians for their murderousness, and yet, how hypocritical of her. As Israeli writer Sherri Oz writes on her Facebook post in reaction to Powers’ speech:
While everyone was counting houses Jews built, people were being killed in cold blood and today the cries and photos coming out are horrid enough to make her stop pointing fingers at Israel and talk about shame! Hypocricy at its most cynical.
Watch Samantha Powers’ speech. It’s very powerful and yet – the hypocrisy:
What we can see in the West’s wailing and gnashing of teeth is not only hypocrisy but mind-boggling stupidity, lack of statecraft and a severe lack of self-awareness. After President Obama set red lines, threatening intervention in Syria if Assad used chemical weapons against his own poeple, Assad duly went ahead and gassed his civilians. Obama then blinked and backed off, aided and abetted by pathetically limp responses from Britain and others, while gratefully accepting the “generous” offer of Putin to take care of business.
What did Obama and the west THINK would happen after that? How could anyone have thought things would turn out any different to how they have turned out?
Lee Smith, writing in The Tablet back in February, slams the failings of Ambassador Samantha Power: (Again, I stress that this article is from February 2016, almost a year ago. How many lives could have been saved if America had stepped up to the plate while there was still time?)
There can be no doubt that the murderous campaign of sectarian cleansing that Assad and his allies Russia and Iran have been waging against the Sunni Arab population of Syria is a crime of historic proportions—the first genocide of the still-young 21st century, or, if you prefer the language of a recent U.N. report, state-sponsored mass extermination. Power herself has documented it all on Twitter:
Power’s tweets are a legitimate response to a horror that is unfolding daily. What’s so odd about them is the Twitter account they come from belongs to the American Ambassador to the United Nations, who has been a member of Obama’s inner circle since before he hit the campaign trail in 2007. Hence, Ambassador Power’s doe-eyed outrage against the policies that she helped to shape in her time in the White House and whose current public face is literally Samantha Power leaves a casual observer a bit slack-jawed.
As Ignatieff and Wieseltier suggest, Power is a handmaiden to war crimes. And no number of righteous tweets or broadsides against Russian diplomats can hide how the White House has used her monumental 2002 classic, A Problem From Hell, as a how-to manual in how to enable genocide and still maintain your soulful cred. From the very beginning when Assad opened fire on peaceful protesters, to the present, as Russia bombs hospitals, the United States has done nothing to stop Assad and his gory friends—and all the faux-outraged tweets and Putin-blaming in the world will not distract a single Syrian from the plain facts that the United States was not only indifferent to the destruction of their country, but has also diplomatically enabled their horrific suffering.
Lee Smith then describes how the US Administration weaseled its way out of its responsibility (emphases are mine):
… How have the president and his aides managed to avoid being held accountable for their complicity in a five-year-long orgy of mass murder that has now taken an estimated 470,000 Syrian lives? In her book’s conclusion, Samantha Power lists a number of popular and relevant tactics that U.S. policymakers have used over the last century to avoid being tagged as accessories in crimes of war.
In the past, she notes, one of the key ways to shirk responsibility was to claim that no one really knew what was going on. But that doesn’t work in the age of the 24-hour news cycle and social media. In fact, long before ISIS became known for its depredations, the Assad regime posted YouTube videos in order to terrorize opponents and keep them from trying their luck against regime forces. So, everyone knows what’s happening in Syria.
One way around that inconvenience, as Power shows, is to “overemphasize the ambiguity of the facts.” The White House has used this strategy to great effect, especially early on, when it claimed that there were “no good guys” in Syria. Sure, they’re victims of a genocide, yes, but when they fight back to save themselves, they kill people, too.
Yet there were—and are—clearly other options. In A Problem From Hell, Power suggests that the United States “should set up safe areas to house refugees and civilians, and protect them with well-armed and robustly mandated peacekeepers, airpower, or both.” Lots of people did argue for a no-fly zone or buffer zone to protect Syrians fleeing from Assad’s killing machine. But the White House said no. Mighty Syrian air defenses were too much for the U.S. air force, said former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey.
There was a time when virtually all of Obama’s national security staff advocated arming the rebels to take down Assad. The president was against it.
The entire White House, from the president on down, is complicit in the crimes that Power tweets about. As the person who quite literally wrote the book on how the American superpower must stop genocides when it has the power to do so, why hasn’t she resigned?
The incomparable Melanie Phillips also slams the pathetic response of the West to the slaughter in Syria, accusing it of “virtue-signalling and myopia”: as they completely miss the point (emphases are mine):
The hand-wringing by western politicians and commentators over the appalling humanitarian catastrophe in Aleppo reveals something far worse even than the nauseating virtue-signalling of pointlessly blaming themselves for having decided not to bomb Syrian President Assad’s forces. It reveals they still don’t understand just how morally culpable they actually are.
…People were, however, totally missing the point then just as they are doing now. Assad is the puppet of the Iranian regime whose infernal purposes, in gaining regional power in order to perpetrate genocide against Israel and jihadi terrorism against the west, he dutifully serves. Iran needs Assad in power. Without Iran, Assad would not be committing these atrocities. To stop him, the west needs to stop Iran.
The hand-wringing over the involvement by Russia’s President Putin, who is providing Assad with the military might to crush the Syrian people, also totally misses the point. Putin has merely stepped into the vacuum left by the collapse of western power and resolve in the world. The Obama administration ended America’s historic role in defending western interests in the developing world. Instead it empowered the west’s enemies, principally Iran, and infamously promoted a supposed “reset” with Russia – which Putin unsurprisingly took as a green light to stomp all over any territory useful to his imperial ambitions.
It was the US, UK and EU which between them empowered Iran and turned Russia into the most powerful kid on the block. The slaughter in Syria is the result.
Thus we have arrived at a stage where desperate residents of Aleppo post emotional goodbyes via Twitter and other social media. And the world stands by and does nothing besides offer mealy-mouthed words of condemnation.
It’s time the world copied Israel instead of constantly condemning it, and started taking practical action to help the civilians of Syria, if it is not already too late.