Posted by Bob Lord
I've always had trouble understanding the world's failure to react more quickly to genocide. Syria today is a case in point.
Very recently, I was told something that I'd not seen in the media. Apparently, the Free Syrian Army is asking for very modest help from the White House. Saudi Arabia and Qatar are prepared to provide invaluable anti-tank and anti-aircraft weaponry to the Free Syrian Army, but, because it is American weaponry, White House consent is required. Obama is unwilling. Reportedly, McCain doesn't want to enter the debate, becuase he is reluctant to criticize Obama on an issue of foreign policy. Huh? All McCain does is bash Obama's foreign policy.
So, how does this make sense? I really don't know, but I can think of three possibilities:
1. A concern that the weaponry in the wrong hands could be used against the U.S.
2. A concern that the weaponry in the wrong hands could be used against Israel.
3. A strategic decision that the more Syria is reduced to rubble, the less of a threat it can be in the future, regardless of who is in control.
I discount the first of those possibilities. The need for the U.S. to strike Syria in the future is remote and It seems that a smallish quantity of even our own weaponry could not prevent a sussessful military strike on our part. That leaves doors number 2 and 3. Or some other consideration that I've not thought of.
Regardless of the answer to this riddle, it reveals a cold hard truth about foreign policy. Humanitarian considerations have less influence than just about any other factor in forming foreign policy. For example, I don't know if Obama is concerned that the weaponry Qatar and Saudi Arabia want to make available could be turned against Israel one day. I have little doubt, however, that if Obama did have that concern, it would outweigh the concern that hundreds of Syrians are dying each day through the world's inaction and this is a chance to end the bloodshed with zero risk to American troops. And I have no doubt that any other President would balance such competing considerations in the same manner, as would any ohter world leader.
When it comes down to it, the lives of ordinary people just don't matter much to those in control. And that's why the world's reaction to genocide is always so maddeningly slow.