From the midweek Morning Jolt:
The Bloodshed in Syria Finds a Way to Get Even Worse
Look, we get it. There don’t seem to be many good guys in Syria. The American people are exhausted from the Afghanistan and Iraq wars and feel like enormous sums of blood and treasure were wasted. We don’t do nation-building well. The countries we save never seem particularly grateful. When we descend into the world’s hellholes with the best of intentions, we mostly make ourselves a target for asymmetrical warfare. Most of the rest of the world has grown lazy, waiting for Americans to show up and pay the price for stopping the globe’s horrors and restoring order.
But how many people have to die in a particular far-off Godforsaken land before we as a country think, “we should have done something about that?”
We may never get a firm number on the death toll from the war in Syria. In February, one group estimated it at 470,000 people. Another 93 people killed in yet another gas attack, this time in Palmyra. Chlorine, mustard gas, sarin, perhaps Agent 15 – chemical weapons are back with a vengeance, used so often it’s hard to keep track. ISIS has used chemical weapons at least 52 times in Iraq and Syria. The “red line” is a long-forgotten joke.
Our government is full of some really harsh words for those engaged in slaughter.
Syrian regime forces were on the brink of taking eastern Aleppo on Tuesday as the UN said pro-regime forces had reportedly carried out executions of at least 82 civilians.
The UN said it had received reports that some civilians had been shot in their homes and on sight.
Speaking at a UN Security Council Emergency Briefing on Syria on Tuesday, US ambassador Samantha Power had some scathing words for her Syrian, Iranian and Russian counterparts.
“You bear responsibility for these atrocities,” she said of the plight of eastern Aleppo residents amid reports of widespread summary executions, including of women and children, by Syrian forces in formerly rebel-held areas.
“When one day there is a full accounting of the horrors committed in this assault of Aleppo — and that day will come, sooner or later — you will not be able to say you did not know what was happening.”
She said the actions of the three players “should shame” them.
“Three Member States of the UN contributing to a noose around civilians. It should shame you. Instead, by all appearances, it is emboldening you… Are you truly incapable of shame?”
No, they aren’t. Samantha Power literally wrote the book on genocide, one that denounced previous administrations for apathy and inertia as thousands of innocent people were slaughtered. Why does she seem so surprised that the Syrian, Iranian and Russian regimes have absolutely no concerns about civilian casualties?
We keep saying “Never again.” And then Cambodia happens, and Rwanda happens, and the Balkans happen, and North Korea continues to be a giant maniacal homicidal prison camp. And then the Taliban rises, al-Qaeda rises, and ISIS rises. And then Syria.
The world can have messy American military interventions, or the world can have massacres. Those are the options. Pick one.
Back in 2013, I wrote:
Dear world . . . do you remember how you greeted the invasion of Iraq?
The invasion of Iraq was treated as the greatest crime against humanity in the history of the world, denounced far more frequently and loudly than any act by Saddam Hussein, Bashar Assad, the Iranian regime, or North Korea.
Giant protests in lots of American cities. Giant protests in every foreign capital. The 2004 Guinness Book of Records described the anti-war movement around the globe as the largest mass protest movement in history — eclipsing any popular opposition to any act of the Soviet Union or any other totalitarian regime around the globe, ever. Among the elites in Paris, Berlin, and most corners of London, the Iraq War was the single-most important issue, and denouncing the evil of George W. Bush was the most important goal, not building a stable and peaceful Iraq. You recall Kofi Annan denouncing it, and the United Nations delegates scoffing when Hugo Chavez called our president the devil.
You recall the cries of “Bushitler,” the ubiquitous Code Pink interrupting every event in Washington, as if some ninny shouting during a press conference ever spurred sudden reversals in U.S. national security policy. You recall Hollywood’s relentless cavalcade of movies demonizing the war and those fighting it: In the Valley of Elah, Stop Loss, Green Zone, Redacted, Grace is Gone, Fahrenheit 9/11.
Hey, my Turkish friends so upset by a bloody civil war across the border and a flood of refugees, remember Valley of the Wolves: Iraq? Remember when that film suggested that Jewish U.S. army doctors in Iraq were harvesting organs from Iraqi civilians to be sold in Israel, and that U.S. soldiers use Iraqi children as human shields? Yeah, remember that? Well, go solve your #*%&^ border problems yourself.
The Davos set is horrified to learn that after spending the better part of a decade screaming at the top of their lungs that an American intervention to topple a bloodthirsty Arab dictator is the absolute worst thing imaginable, suddenly Americans are no longer interested in toppling bloodthirsty Arab dictators.
(Slap, slap) Wake up, anti-war movement! You’ve got what you wanted! The United States is out of the armed intervention business, besides the occasional “leading from behind” in Libya, or the occasional covert mission in Pakistan.
And this is what you get.