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Hullabaloo


Tuesday, May 29, 2012

 
Global fecklessness

by David Atkins

Stories like this are infuriating:

Western nations expelled senior Syrian diplomats on Tuesday in a hardened and coordinated condemnation of the weekend massacre of more than 100 villagers in Syria, nearly half of them children.

The response by the United States and others came as the top United Nations peacekeeping official gave new credence to suspicions that pro-government Syrian thugs, known as shabiha, were at least partly responsible for the killings, despite official Syrian denials of complicity.

Outrage over the killings, which constituted one of the gravest atrocities in the 15-month-old uprising against President Bashar al-Assad, coincided with a visit to Syria by the United Nations special envoy, Kofi Annan, who met with Mr. Assad in Damascus to salvage a failing cease-fire.

Mr. Annan, speaking to reporters later, said he had warned Mr. Assad time is running out.

"We are at a tipping point," he said at a news conference in Damascus. "The Syrian people do not want the future to be one of bloodshed and division. Yet the killings continue and the abuses are still with us today. As I reminded the President, the international community will soon be reviewing the situation. I appealed to him for bold steps now — not tomorrow, now — to create momentum for the implementation of the plan."
Yes, I'm sure Assad is just shaking in his boots.

The international community needs to figure something out. It either cares about what the Assads of the world are doing, or it doesn't. If it doesn't care, stop the pretenses at outrage, the expulsions of diplomats, the security council handwringing and the rest of it. Let them consign themselves to the idea that no one should ever meddle in what happens within another nation state's borders, that any change in a country must come from within, and that we should turn a blind eye to massacres by national leaders because any sort of intervention would just make things worse and lead to more deaths. Every nation and person for itself in a global federalism, and if your particular ethnic group or democratic reformist protest is marked for death, too bad. Not our problem.

Or it can create an actual organization with teeth that can enforce principles of human rights with the same authority that a federal marshal can exercise against murderers within a nation state. Doing that would also delegitimize the selfish actions of individual nation states playing the world's self-appointed cop.

One or the other. But enough pretense of outrage, horrified protestations, diplomatic expulsions and sternly worded letters. The Assads of the world couldn't care less what anyone thinks of them as long as they don't feel personally threatened.

Do something or don't do anything and stop pretending you care. Expelling diplomats doesn't count as doing something.

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