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Monday, February 06, 2012  

Memory Hole Blues

The New York Times buries what might be an important detail in their account of the international diplomacy surrounding Syria's crackdown today:

[An editorial in China's Communist Party newspaper] also said that NATO had “abused” the no-flight resolution China had voted with others to allow NATO to establish in Libya, and “supplied one side of the war with firearms.”

“Was the promise on protecting civilians kept?” it asked.

I am a little surprised to hear the grandstanding from Hillary Clinton, Susan Rice, and William Hague on this matter so soon after they rather breezily exceeded the limits of the last U.N. resolution addressing an internal conflict in an Arab country. If anything, the Assad regime is more brutal and loathsome than Ghaddafi's was, but it's hard to imagine how the Security Council members who most steadfastly resist interference in the internal affairs of other nations could be persuaded to sign on to this resolution after what must have been a very disillusioning experience in the Libyan civil war. Western critics have been pointing out quite accurately that the last proposed language did not call for regime change and explicitly forswore military intervention. But the last time we saw this movie, the narrowness of the U.N. mandate was overlooked almost before anyone could object.

I don't have any brief for the vetoers on this issue, and I have no idea what the U.N. ought to be doing to prevent further bloodshed in Syria. But it couldn't hurt if American news coverage (and punditry) pointed out some relevant and agreed-upon facts of recent events to provide some context. Instead, we get nothing but self-righteousness from politicians and commentators alike. Libya, far from being a model for a new kind of humanitarian intervention, seems to have set the cause of a "responsibility to protect" back considerably at a moment in which it seems more urgent than it has in a long time.


posted by Benjamin Dueholm | 1:38 PM
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