Sunday, 5 February 2012

Selective tears

I love the Obama team’s rending of garments over the Syrian massacres, which are horrifying. But the Washington foreign policy/security establishment has a lot of hypocritcal balls to denounce them. These are the same guys (and gals) who stood idly by—no, actively cheerleaded—while the Salvadoran nazis massacred peasants in the 1980s and looked the other way when Saddam Hussein (yes, that Saddam Hussein) used poison gas against Iranian soldiers, and when the Argentine generals rounded up union leaders and students and tossed them out of airplanes by the thousands. Not to mention the vast crimes committed in Iraq in more recent memory.

One could come up with a dozen more examples of murderous indifference when the outcomes suited our national interests, and I’m too old to think that nation-states are liable to act humanely when wealth or power are at stake. But it is downright laughable to see UN ambassador Susan Rice and the Hillary wax all indignant with moral outrage over the Russian and Chinese vetoes. If it were Netanyahu committing the atrocities instead of Assad, how distinct would be the tune heard from their righteous lutes.

The situation also demonstrates what NATO lost by turning the UN resolutions against Khaddafy into a de facto authorization for war and regime change. Had NATO acted with more restraint to prevent massacres and less like an active participant in the civil war, the Russians might have less reason for recalcitrance with their Syrian ally today. But the logic of war-making trumped all else. As usual.

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