Opinion » Columnists
Author`s name Ольга Савка

Please do not support us in condemning Assad, Mr. Bush

Please, really, don't. You're not helping
 
The news of the 2000th American soldier to be killed in Iraq comes at a time when real problems of international importance have once again resurfaced in the Middle East region. It has recently come to light that Syria's President Assad was directly responsible for the assassination of Lebanese leader Hariri. This is indeed a heinous development and if ever a point of international law needed the threat of force to be observed, that against assassination was one of them. It is only right, therefore, for the US to call upon the UN and the international community to condemn and aggressively prosecute President Assad for his involvement in this crime. Syria map Why then does this indictment from the US ring false in the ears of the UN and the international community? Why does it strike others as simple warmongering rather than a real call for justice?  Most importantly, why does Syria simply shrug off this posturing from the US?

The truth is that, with the 2000th American soldier dead and the outlook of the US military being engaged in Iraq for at least the next nine years, it looks like the Bush administration has actually succeeded in initiating the US' fall from the title of World Superpower. The US no longer has the military flexibility, much less the diplomatic ability, to properly enforce its international agenda. While previously, the US was looked to for leadership in international affairs; it is now purposely contradicted in the UN even when their cause may have moral backing. 

It has become increasingly clear with the Valerie Plame investigation that Vice President Cheney coerced the American intelligence community into supporting the claims that Saddam was seeking nuclear materials from Niger – a keystone piece of evidence that brought the UK, Spain and the US Congress into agreement with plans to invading Iraq. After all, nuclear weapons are no small matter. Even while Saddam's potential ability to reach Europe or the US was undoubtedly exaggerated, if one believed the claims that Hussein possessed nuclear weapons then one could understand the need to neutralize that threat to Iran, Kuwait, Israel or Saudi Arabia, Iraq's traditional enemies. The possession of nuclear weapons by the notoriously unbalanced dictator would be a serious concern. It is clear now, however, that the evidence for this is was not only misinterpreted, but a pure fabrication.  It was a fabrication that the UN did not believe, but the Bush administration was so bent on war with Iraq that it cashed in all of its diplomacy chips so to speak and invaded. 

Is it any surprise then that the call for justice in Syria by Secretary Rice is received with skepticism? One of my favorite analogies of the US and the Iraq war is that of a small child who pokes a wasp's nest with a stick and then gets upset when he is stung.  Who wants to help that child poke that wasp's nest?  Nobody.  Who would listen to the same child suggestion to attack a wolf's den? Even if this wolf attacked a nearby rancher's cattle, would you be the first to jump at the chance to follow this child still covered with stings and sores from the wasps? (The swarm by the way is still on him.)

President Bush has largely rendered the US State Department impotent. It is unable to build the coalitions it depends on for meaningful reaction to actions performed by rogue or terrorist states. These states, like Syria, enemies to the US, its allies, the entire Western world and their own people, now see that, with its hands tied in Iraq, they are free to behave with impunity. They cannot see any meaningful punishment for killing off their neighbors' leaders. They cannot see any real action for the UN against the international crimes that the body was created to enforce, not because they see the UN as weak for not supporting the Iraq war, but because they know that the international community is so sick and disgusted with the US' unnecessary involvement in Iraq that any involvement with the a state in the Middle East region seems distasteful even when one country has committed an act of war against its neighbor with impunity. No defense of democracy. No enforcement of international law. No threats from the US, previously the only necessary show of force, makes an impact with those who would seek to compromise the security of the entire region – its nations and its peoples.

In contrast President Clinton gathered several coalitions together to conduct military operations everywhere from Bosnia to Rwanda, including the much forgotten Operation Desert Fox air campaign, which retaliated against Iraq for failing to comply with UN inspectors' demands.  He was not always supported by everyone in the international community, but he never alienated an ally to the point that this ally would never work with him again. Bush now has little to no diplomatic clout. If he ever does have a military action in mind that was not connected to his obsession with Iraq or was for a good and noble cause, he will have a very hard time gaining the international support necessary to completing the goal. In fact, it is best that the US stay away from truly noble diplomatic goals, since the Bush administration's involvement is more likely to prevent action than cause it. Therefore, from all of us who feel that Syria's President Assad be held accountable for his government's actions against Lebanon, please, Mr. Bush and company, do not support international action.  It is better for us that you call for inactivity.

Jason de Kanter

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