by: Timothy Villareal on October 10th, 2013 | No Comments »
When a head of state, Bashar al-Assad, whose regime has already used what amounts to mobile gas chambers on his own people, remains firmly in power – with no prospect of end to that power – there is nothing whatsoever about that circumstance that can be remotely characterized as a moral victory.
And yet, many on the Tea Party Right and what I’d call the Neo-Soviet Left are indeed crowing about the post-August 20th series of domestic and international political events vis-a-vis the Syria crisis; political events, like the deluge of Americans calling and writing to their members of Congress, which have averted what may or may not have been a pointless and merely “symbolic” cruise missile strike against the Assad regime, a mere “shot across the bow” as President Obama put it.
Simultaneously, the one-note nature of this particular brand of opposition against any U.S. military intervention in Syria has effectively midwifed a new – and exceedingly dangerous – geopolitical paradigm: the use of the United Nations to elevate the regime of a gas murdering despot to a legitimate interlocutor on the world stage. As a card-carrying liberal, as a spiritual progressive, that’s not an international system I want this generation, nor future generations, to live in.
Earlier this week, at a Syria policy panel discussion held at Washington’s Busboys and Poets, Judith Le Blanc, field director of Peace Action, openly thanked Vladimir Putin – yes, the same Vladimir Putin who is presently making life a living hell for gays in Russia – for his “leadership” on bringing about the recent Syrian chemical weapons disarmament plan. It is a plan that, as thoroughly explained by Daniel DePetris in the Christian Science Monitor, will likely be torn to shreds by Assad in the absence of a threat of military action against the regime.
Fortunately for Bashar al-Assad and his thug generals who launched the sarin gas attacks, this newly established Tea Party/Neo-Soviet domestic alliance has already slammed the door shut on military action to prevent the Assad regime from committing further mass atrocities – with conventional and/or unconventional weapons. For certain, Senator Ted “Shutdown” Cruz of Texas is no more likely to be swayed to support military intervention against Bashar al-Assad – even if the despot slaughtered a hundred thousand people in one day – than Judith Le Blanc of Peace Action: both are content to let gay-bashing Vladimir Putin call the global shots on Syria, while the U.S. Congress does nothing but it’s usual, feigned bipartisan praise of “our men and women in uniform.”
For those who would buy into the Putin-praising nonsense from the Tea-Party Right/Neo-Soviet Left coalition that the government of Russia is actually a “peacemaker” in the Syria crisis, here is what U.S. Representative to United Nations, Samantha Power, said last month about Russia’s role in the two-year old conflict:
Since 2011, Russia and China have vetoed three separate Security Council resolutions condemning the Syrian regime’s violence or promoting a political solution to the conflict.
This year alone, Russia has blocked at least three statements expressing humanitarian concern and calling for humanitarian access to besieged cities in Syria. And in the past two months, Russia has blocked two resolutions condemning the generic use of chemical weapons and two press statements expressing concern about their use.
We believe that more than 1,400 people were killed in Damascus on August 21, and the Security Council could not even agree to put out a press statement expressing its disapproval.
As I wrote about previously here at Tikkun Daily, it’s unfortunate that Samantha Power eroded so much of her moral credibility during her confirmation hearing, in which she stated over and over again to members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that in her position at the U.N. she would “never apologize for America.” As Nick Turse so chillingly lays out today in a New York Times op-ed titled “For America, Life Was Cheap in Vietnam” about the massive U.S. military atrocities inflicted on the civilian population of Vietnam, the United States has a lot to apologize for. And we can start with Vietnam.
I hope Samantha Power, eventually, will connect the dots – or, in her case, reconnect the dots – between a nation’s refusal to atone for its past sins and its wholesale inability to effectuate present-day moral consciousness, domestic and foreign, in the face of real-time global atrocities. Put another way, America doesn’t need a Sisyphus on steroids representing us at the U.N.
Power’s Senate confirmation hearing – including her nasty swipe against American human rights hero Edward Snowden, a man who has single-handedly expanded and transformed the debate on Executive branch surveillance – played right into the hands of global despots like Bashar al-Assad. Indeed, I wouldn’t be surprised if Assad was watching Power tick off her bullet points of state belligerence during her confirmation hearing. As demonstrated by his deft performance with Charlie Rose at the height of the crisis, Assad’s ability to effectively typecast our entire country as a global, unapologetic thug and supreme hypocrite on war and morality was made all the more easy with a U.S. representative to the United Nations who loudly rejects the very principle of national atonement.
What a tragedy, because Power’s more fundamental assessment about what the civilized world is facing in this historical moment – namely not a mere bureaucratic breakdown of the UN system, but a total distortion of its original spirit – is an assessment which desperately needs to be understood, and heeded, by this generation. About the purpose of the United Nations to prevent the kinds of atrocities we have seen in Syria, Power said:
The international system that was founded in 1945, a system we designed specifically to respond to the kinds of horrors we saw play out in World War II, has not lived up to its promise or its responsibilities in the case of Syria. And it is naive to think that Russia is on the verge of changing its position and allowing the U.N. Security Council to assume its rightful role as the enforcer of international peace and security.
In short, the Security Council the world needs to deal with this urgent crisis is not the Security Council we have.
Frankly, much the same can be said for the political left in this country. So long as political opposition to chronic Executive branch warmongering in this country is dominated by what I would call the Neo-Soviet Left – those who would actually have the audacity to call a thug like Vladimir Putin a peacemaker – this country will not develop the kind moral consciousness and legal reforms required to confront, and end, our own Executive branch’s abuse at home and abroad, while simultaneously building an international system that will not tolerate gas-murderers like Assad being heads of state in the community of nations.
Politically speaking, to follow the instructions and programs of the Neo-Soviet Left and their Tea Party brethren on the Right is tantamount to robbing Peter to pay Paul; it’s just shuffling the public’s moral indignation at the abuse of state power from one hemisphere to another.
In other words, ideological purity, whether it sprays from the right or left, might be enough to create a mass e-mail list or phone list to get people to contact their members of Congress, or even get people to show up for a rally.
But it won’t do a thing to heal and repair what is broken with the world.