It is easy to impute the worst motives to those advising increased intervention in Syria, such as the 51 diplomats who called for “a more muscular military posture” against Syria in a State Department memorandum shared with the New York Times. Sure, they may be trying to pave the way for the Hillary Clinton regime and her preference for a firm American footprint in the Middle East and elsewhere. But those who advocate that the United States taking more into its own hands and attempt to shut down the Assad regime deserve some benefit of the doubt for humanitarian motives. Who can sit by and watch both Bashar al Assad and the Islamic State ravage that country?
As mentioned in a previous post, I am in the process of reading a paper from March 2015 titled Failure to Protect: Syria and the UN Security Council by Dr. Simon Adams, Executive Director of the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect, a project of the Ralph Bunche Institute for International Studies of the Graduate Center, City University of New York. Yes, the United States bears a lion’s share of the blame for the state of Syria today because its invasion of Iraq turned the whole Middle East upside down.
But, as I mentioned in the previous post, today much of the blame for allowing the Assad regime to continue to wage war on its own people does not lay at the the feet of the United States. Dr. Adams writes:
Three years ago in February 2012, for the second time since the conflict began, Russia and China vetoed a United Nations (UN) Security Council draft resolution aimed at holding the Syrian government accountable for crimes against humanity. Watching the discussion in the chamber after the vote, the depth of un-diplomatic emotion was palpable. In particular, Susan Rice, then United States Ambassador to the UN and now President Barack Obama’s National Security Advisor, said her government was “disgusted” by the veto of a resolution intended to help protect civilians and halt atrocities. … What became clear in the aftermath of the February 2012 veto was that Security Council inaction emboldened those inside Syria most committed to a military resolution of the conflict.
What happened next (emphasis added):
The killing rate in Syria increased from approximately 1,000 per month to approximately 5,000 per month during 2012 as the civil war metastasised. Between February and November of 2012 the death toll soared from over 5,000 to almost 60,000. Patterns of violence also changed.
With each failure of the Security Council to hold the Syrian government accountable for its actions, President Bashar al-Assad’s forces deployed more extreme armed force. This, in turn, strengthened the most uncompromising and severe elements within the armed opposition, especially those with external sources of sustenance. The net effect has been to turn Syria into the world’s worst case of ongoing mass atrocities, civilian displacement and humanitarian catastrophe.
“As such,” Adams concludes, “the permanent members of the Security Council bear a special burden of responsibility for their failure to protect the Syrian people.”