One more bloodbath, one more mass grave in Syria: it is becoming routine. The New York Times reports on the latest atrocity in a suburb of Damascus:
The [local human rights] group said its activists found one mass body dump after another. They posted two videos showing what they said were different groups of victims; in one a series of charred bodies could be seen wrapped in blankets; in another, a far larger group of bodies — more than 150, according to the video’s narrator — had been lined up together in a dark area of what was said to be a local mosque.Activists said most of the people killed were executed by government forces, who have been shelling the town for days as part of a scorched-earth campaign by Syrian troops to wipe out rebels and their sympathizers in several suburbs of the capital.
How inspiring all that “right to protect” rhetoric was around the time of the Libya war. How we used to be regaled with pronouncements about ‘never again’, etc. Could it all have been just a bunch of clichés proffered by a bunch of starry-eyed professors who thought the world would bow before the awesomeness of their moral commitments? It looks more and more that way.Via Meadia doesn’t think ideals and ideas are out of place in foreign policy. We don’t think the president of a democratic society can conduct the country’s affairs with the serene amorality of Catherine the Great and Louis XV back in the good old days of the 18th century. And we also think that America’s deep interests are connected to the development of a new framework of international relations more respectful of the rights of human beings around the world.But we also think this stuff is hard: harder, actually, than the old kind of amoral chess match kind of foreign policy. And sloganeering professors and moralistic loudmouths usually cause a lot more harm than good when they wade into complicated situations they do not understand while chasing their various illusions. Promising the moon but delivering chaos and bloodshed is pretty much standard operating procedure for the missionary mentality when, untested and inexperienced, it gets into power.The dead will continue to pile up in Syria while the contrast between the Obama administration’s overblown rhetoric and its pygmy performance continues to undermine the authority of the U.S. even as it stores up trouble for the future. “Never again” remains the world’s hollowest slogan, even as yet another American administration painfully discovers that just because your ideas are pretty doesn’t mean your policies work.