Wishful politics

Members vote during a United Nations Security Council meeting on Syria July 19, 2012 at the United Nations in New York. (AFP PHOTO DON EMMERT)

The desire to learn from history is in short supply, judging from the Syrian uprising.

Iraq’s late leader Saddam Hussein used to call his fellow citizens “dogs,” and more recently, Libya’s Moammar Gadhafi came up with the term “rats” to describe his country’s citizens when they dared demand an end to his decades in power. Their fellow passengers on a sinking ship, namely Syrian President Bashar Assad and his regime, have opted for the equally clichéd term “terrorist gang” to describe the millions of people in their country who have stood up to say that enough is enough.

The policy of labeling one’s fellow citizens with such coarse and insulting phrases is a sure sign that the leaders in question are undertaking their final stand. This final stand is taking place before the eyes of the world, even though some of the most powerful countries in the world, namely Russia and China, decided Thursday to once again use their veto power in the United Nations Security Council to defeat a resolution that would ramp up the pressure on the Syrian regime to back down on its policy of violent crackdown against people opposed to Assad’s rule.

The United States has said Moscow and Beijing are on the wrong side of history, while in fact they are on the wrong side of humanity.

It has been proven, without a shred of doubt, that Russia and China are accomplices in the massacres taking place in Syria, and whether they, or Damascus, like it or not, the end of the Syrian crisis is nearing.

Assad and his regime continue to ignore that this end is near, and the various spokesmen who appear from time to time recall the infamous Iraqi information minister, Mohammad Said Sahhaf, as well as Gadhafi’s people, who would utter the most bald-faced lies when they were staring collapse in the face.

Gadhafi, as everyone remembers, would vow that the rats would be exterminated, and Assad and his people are following the same line, even though they have preferred the term “terrorist gangs” to stooping to call millions of Syrians animals.

Meanwhile, China and Russia remain equally blind to the course of history; they believe that they are engaged in a hard-nosed game of realpolitik, and are simply acting in a way that will preserve their role and influence in a future Syria.

But these are pipe dreams. These actions are in fact putting their futures in jeopardy, and are creating enemies through the region – they have been unable to even remember the lesson of the last decade or so, when Washington’s heavy-handed approach to the Middle East was earning enemies on a daily basis.

The final stand is now here, and the only positioning that Russia and China are engaged in is a headlong rush to being full partners in the ultimate defeat of the Syrian regime.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on July 20, 2012, on page 7.




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