Inaction on Syria will come with a price – by Lori Handrahan
The Syrian genocide has begun. Regardless of what the Obama Administration is willing to call Assad’s bloodbath, Syria has entered the genocidal realm. The butchery in Homs, Houla, Tremesh and Aleppo are all pre-genocidal indicators. Mass atrocities and mass graves have been documented. President Obama’s non-action is unbearable as sheer horror radiates from Syria.
President Obama honed an image as a “foreign policy president.” He has been adored abroad. At home, he championed human rights and humanitarian responsibility. With a genocide under way in Syria, that the president has refused to prevent, his foreign policy is exposed as a dangerous hypocrisy; one damaging America’s domestic security and global leadership. Here’s why.
Cooperation with Russia on Syria?
President Obama’s behavior with Russia is terrifying. First, President Obama declared cooperation with Russia at the June G-20 Summit, “in order to stop the bloodshed in Syria.” While Syrian blood flows at alarming levels, President Obama remains silent; never revoking his official position of cooperation with Russia in Syria.
Then Russia drew their foreign policy “red-line” saying they would veto any Security Council resolution on Syria that included the UN Charter’s Chapter 7. The Obama’s Administration said American would not support resolutions lacking Chapter 7. Chapter 7 includes Article 42 which authorizes forceful intervention. Russia vetoed. America then voted in favor of a new resolution absent Chapter 7. After the Russian veto, President Obama spoke with President Putin. The White House reported continued cooperation with Russia on Syria. Members of Congress were so alarmed they passed an amendment preventing the Obama Administration from sharing defense technology with Russia.
Russia, with President Obama’s assistance, has used the Syrian crisis to establish foreign policy dominance. Russia drew a line. America countered. Then America withdrew our line allowing Russia’s to stand. Russia’s line means slaughter in Syria. The Obama Administration has demonstrated consistent support for this.
Preventing mass atrocities
In April 2012 President Obama unveiled a bold, new foreign policy; placing mass atrocities and genocide prevention as a “core” national security interest and moral responsibility. At the time, Syrian children, as young as two years old, were already suffering mass atrocities, rape, detention, torture, murder and use as human shields as targets of a Syrian state military strategy.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recently spoke at the Holocaust Museum supporting a recent poll that details America’s support for genocide prevention. As she spoke, BBC’s Ian Pannell reported Syrian military fighter jets, Russian MiGs, had been unleashed on the city of Aleppo. A NATO-enforced No Fly Zone (NFZ) would have prevented this carnage. Turkey had asked NATO for a NFZ over Syria in June. NATO declined because, apparently, the Obama administration refused.
Declaring foreign policies that America has no intention of enforcing, destroys our integrity and credibility. Can American allies, or voters, trust a president who establishes a national-security foreign policy he refuses to uphold and instead cooperates with Russia? America, and our allies, cannot afford this kind of leadership. Not now. Not ever. At home or abroad.
After the Election?
The liberal excuse, reverberating in Washington, is the president’s hands are tied until after the election. Democrats are expected to say, “Yes, of course.” Dissent is met with a hiss “Do you want Karl Rove back in The White House? What kind of liberal are you?” The kind that puts country, constitution, and human rights before political party.
President Obama does not have the right to put his election first. He took an oath of office to serve American interests and security above all else. The refusal to interevene to prevent Syria’s mass atrocities, sliding into genocide, exposes an abdication of the President’s oath of office.
Nothing illustrates the danger of this abdication more than the words of one young Syrian woman, “When we control Syria, we won’t forget that you forgot us.” A US-led NATO intervention would result in a key Middle-Eastern ally brimming with gratitude to America for generations to come. This is absolutely critical to our domestic security. Instead, America may now face the exact opposite.
Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King said, “We will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” President Obama’s silence on Syria has created a danger Americans, Syrians, and the world cannot afford. The damage of America’s silence on Syria may be long-lasting and severe.
Handrahan, Ph.D. is a professor at American University’s School of International Service in Washington DC and serves on UN’s Inter-Agency Standing Committee (ISAC) working groups on humanitarian response. She worked for UNHCR in the Balkans and Chad.