The news from Syria is all bad. The various UN ceasefire proposals and peace plans have been abject failures — predictably. And while diplomats talk, and talk, and talk, the Syrian people are getting slaughtered by their own government in a series of bloody massacres. The latest incident came last night, when Syrians in the town of Deraa were shelled, apparently by government forces, even as UN observers try to investigate an earlier atrocity.
The Syrian situation is one of those instances that reveal the remarkably cold-blooded nature of foreign policy in the modern world. Unfortunately for the Syrians, their dusty country is one of the few places in the Middle East that lacks oil reserves. Nor is it a place that has served as the launching ground for successful terrorist attacks. As a result, for all the hand-wringing, neither Europe, nor the United States, nor any other country has sufficient skin in the game to do anything to depose the evil Assad regime and stop the awful civilian carnage in Syria. And any effort to take military action under the umbrella of the UN inevitably will be blocked by the Russians and the Chinese, who aren’t fans of international interventions, anyway.
Compare events in Syria to what happened in Libya, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Life in Syria is as violent and repressive as it was in any of those countries before regime change was imposed at the point of a sword. The difference is that the United States and other governments viewed those other countries as involving crucial geopolitical interests and had the ability, through their own resources and the NATO construct, to take affirmative steps to address those interests. The Syrian situation doesn’t invoke such crucial interests, and therefore the Syrian people will continue to suffer and die.
I’m not advocating that America act unilaterally for humanitarian reasons; our human, financial, and military resources are finite, and I don’t think we can or should serve as the world’s policeman whenever tyrants begin campaigns of indiscriminate killing in distant lands. I’m just noting that the sad futility of the Syrian “peace plans” and escalating rhetoric of the diplomats exposes the ultimate hollowness of most multi-national organizations, like the UN and the Arab League. Why aren’t Syria’s oil-rich Middle Eastern neighbors taking steps to stop the bloodshed in their own backyard? The Arab League should be ashamed.