The Post reports: “The U.N. Security Council on Sunday blamed the Syrian government for most of the deaths in a massacre of 116 civilians in the village of Houla, issuing a unanimous statement condemning the killings that was supported by Syria’s staunch allies Russia and China. The killings on Friday, which included at least 32 children, represented one of the bloodiest single incidents yet in the 14-month-old uprising against President Bashar al-Assad’s rule and have served to highlight the failure of a U.N. monitoring mission to halt the violence, which appears to be steadily rising again.” Is there anyone who believes another empty condemnation will mean anything to Bashar al-Assad?
Israel released this statement: “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expresses his revulsion over the ongoing massacre being perpetrated by the forces of Syrian President Bashar Assad against innocent civilians, which continued over the weekend in Houla and included dozens of innocent children. ‘Iran and Hezbollah are an inseparable part of the Syrian atrocities and the world needs to act against them,’ the Prime Minister said.” Israel has long realized that the devil the world knows in Damascus is worse than most anything that would follow his removal.
Meanwhile, the level of inanity among administration officials increases daily. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton last week pronounced: “The Assad regime’s brutality against its own people must and will end, because Syrians know they deserve a better future.” If they gave awards for insipid rhetoric, she’d be hard to beat. But, of course, Assad’s reign of terror will end only if he is forced to leave or is killed, and right now Clinton has nothing but finger-wagging to offer.
Mitt Romney issued an appropriately scathing statement: “The Assad regime’s massacre of civilians in Houla — many of them young children — is horrific. After nearly a year and a half of slaughter, it is far past time for the United States to begin to lead and put an end to the Assad regime. President Obama can no longer ignore calls from congressional leaders in both parties to take more assertive steps. The Annan ‘peace’ plan — which President Obama still supports — has merely granted the Assad regime more time to execute its military onslaught. The United States should work with partners to organize and arm Syrian opposition groups so they can defend themselves. The bloodshed in Houla makes clear that our goal must be a new Syrian government, one that contributes to peace and stability in the Middle East and that truly represents the brave Syrian people.”
But, as former deputy national security adviser Elliott Abrams reminds us, Obama’s response to these kind of events for well over a year has been empty rhetoric and a new bureaucracy:
In large part because President Obama has provided no leadership, apparently preferring to watch these massacres to taking the risks of acting. He is, to use Clinton’s phrase, standing idly by, making speeches from time to time but denying the opposition the assistance they need. If the killing goes on at these levels of brutality he may be forced to act, but that will not eliminate the stain on his record that these 14 months will leave. An “Atrocities Prevention Board” is a nice thing to have; I’m for it. But I’d trade it in an instant for a president determined to prevent atrocities.
Now we hear Obama is thinking Russia — which is sending arms to Assad — will help us move Assad out. Good grief. Even a novice observer knows this is daft (“the plan hinges on the cooperation of Russia, a strong defender of the Assad regime, which has blocked United Nations actions intended to raise pressure on the Syrian government”).
The inaction of this administration is a disgrace. It may have no domestic political repercussions (foreign policy is not uppermost in voters’ minds), but it has horrendous ramifications for the Syrian people. And someday, a future president will perhaps go to the U.S. Holocaust museum to decry how “this evil was allowed to happen.” The answer: The United States had a president who couldn’t be bothered to do more than make self-serving speeches.