Earlier this month, in an interview with John Kerry, the BBC’s Katty Kay asked: “Do you feel that the Obama administration bears any responsibility for the situation in Syria, which deteriorated remarkably during your time as Secretary of State?”
After initially saying that it wouldn’t serve “any purpose,” with just a couple of weeks left before a new administration’s swearing-in, to speculate about what the Obama team might have done differently in Syria, Kerry launched into what can only be described as a bizarre defence of what he and Obama accomplished there:
“What I do know is that the United States has been the leading initiator of any number of efforts to try to get ceasefires, to try to encourage a political resolution. We led the efforts to put the International Syria Support Group together; we got an agreement, including from the Iranians and the Russians, as to the broad framework of a resolution in Syria. We got an agreement on what principles we ought to be organizing our efforts around – a united Syria, one that is going to be democratic, that has elections, that protects minorities, that has a transitional process – we agreed with all those things. So, we made a lot of progress.” Some progress!
Just a few weeks earlier, the Washington Post condemned Kerry’s diplomatic initiatives with Russia over Syria as “delusional.”
At the time, Russia and Iran, along with Iran’s proxy, Hezbollah, were vigorously supporting Syrian president Bashar Assad’s murderous assault on the civilians of east Aleppo. Russian fighter aircraft dropped bunker-busting and cluster bombs on hospitals, clinics, schools, and apartments while Assad’s helicopters dropped barrel bombs and used the chlorine gas Obama thought, with Russia’s help, he’d forced Assad to give up. All war crimes.
So much for Kerry’s idea of working with Russia and Iran. His repeated pleadings for a relevant American role in Syria were met with indulgence, then scorn and, finally, indifference. It was Russia and Iran, with Turkey, that set the conditions for the so-called ceasefire in Aleppo. The U.S. was excluded altogether.
“Above all, Aleppo represents a meltdown of the West’s moral and political will — and, in particular, a collapse of U.S. leadership,” wrote the Post in its editorial.
The UN had, of course, for years, been completely irrelevant on Syria because of Russia’s veto.
But even in mid-December while atrocities in Aleppo continued, the U.S. ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power, a highly respected human rights advocate and author of A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide, was confined to railing: “Aleppo will join the ranks of those events in world history that define modern evil, that stain our conscience decades later. Halabja, Rwanda, Srebrenica, and, now, Aleppo.”
Yet the most she could muster against the Assad regime, Russia, and Iran was to ask – with almost pathetic naiveté: “Are you truly incapable of shame? Is there literally nothing that can shame you? Is there no act of barbarism against civilians, no execution of a child that gets under your skin?”
Years ago, it became clear that Obama was not going to act to help protect Syrian civilians even through the minimal imposition of a no-fly zone. We can only speculate on Power’s reasons for staying on to witness the barbarism rather than resigning in protest.
In the meantime, as helpless as the U.S. was at the UN over Syria, it could have acted on another Mideast issue, one which was an assured victory.
In last week’s CJN, Mordechai Ben-Dat passionately critiqued America’s dangerous, shameful enabling a one-sided gang-up against Israel with the passage of UN Security Council Resolution 2334.
Among other things, this resolution determined in the distorted legality, which only UN bodies can manage to achieve where Israel is concerned, that the Western Wall and the Temple Mount — Judaism’s holiest sites — belong to “occupied Palestinian territory.”
What is more delusional than that?