|OOooohh. Feel the Sexual Tension|
Then, again yesterday, the US sought to introduce a UNSC Resolution demanding an end to the violence in Syria. And once again, the Russians have promised to veto it to protect their client state. And again, predictably, the, US is apoplectic. US Secretary of State Clinton has stated her "...hope that Russia will play a constructive role..." and appealed to "...the International Community to come together to take action..." to protect the lives and freedom of the Syrian people.
Now perhaps these political machinations in the Security Council are beginning to take on an air of familiarity to many of you. Perhaps the specter of a major power using it's veto to protect a client state from the near-universal opprobrium of the International Community has a Déjà vu sense about it, like a movie you've seen before. Perhaps you're thinking of the way the US has used its own veto to shield Israel from United Nations condemnations, even in cases, such as the West Bank Settlements, where American policy stands in complete agreement with the Resolution.
Ahhh, but you recoil in shock, crying out "FALSE EQUIVALENCE" and quickly pointing out that settlements, and even the inhuman collective punishment of the people trapped in Gaza nowhere near rise to the level of the crimes the Assad regime is committing against his own people. And while you'd be right about the differences in degree, you would be entirely wrong about the falsity of the equivalence. Because in all these cases a large enough segment of the International Community found the behavior of the given regime to be unacceptable to the point where there were more than enough votes to pass the resolution, and the US veto, like the Russian one, appears as nothing more than a single benefactor nation using its arbitrary power to shield a client state from justice.
For the United States, this should serve as a teachable moment. First, that the day when the UNSC veto served any genuine purpose is over, and very much like the filibuster in the US Senate should go the way of the steam locomotive and the Soviet Union. But second, that it feels wrong when a major power shields a criminal from accountability merely because it is their criminal, that the diplomatic, military or economic relationship is more important than lives and justice - and it feels wrong because it IS wrong.
The US has a credibility problem in any event, because the American government has historically brought to power and supported any number of murderous, distasteful authoritarian dictatorships, but that credibility problem increases tenfold when compounded by the grossest of hypocrisy. If SecState Clinton were to stand up and say "Well, we certainly don't approve of the Russian veto of this Resolution, but we understand it because we regularly do the same thing with our client states - let's just move on to other business" then the other, weaker nations would have to at least recognize that the US wasn't completely blind to the consequences of its own actions, and was capable of seeing the unfairness inherent in these policies.
Ultimately these resolutions don't matter one whit anyway, because there's just no way for the International Community to act in Syria in any manner that would actually be constructive. Any direct action at all would immediately trigger a larger slaughter and would probably lead to a regional war. In addition to the geo-political alignments of Syria and the surrounding nations, there is the sad fact that it's win or die for Assad. Once you have an adversary who can't quit and survive, then you can't expect anything you do to cause him to quit. The best outcome from a minimizing casualties standpoint would be for the Loyalists to quickly crush the rebellion, and the best outcome from a justice standpoint is a long, grinding civil war. When those are the best outcomes you can hope for, it's probably not a situation you want to get any more deeply involved in.