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Susan Rice Wrings Hands as Grisly Milestone Passed in Syria

United Nations Security Council Holds Meeting On North Korea's Latest Nuclear Test

Susan Rice gave her last news conference at the UN before starting her new job as National Security Advisor yesterday, calling the West’s inaction in Syria “a moral and strategic disgrace that history will judge harshly.”

Susan Rice is well known as an architect of the “humanitarian intervention” in Libya, and after the Rwandan genocide she famously said “I swore to myself that if I ever faced such a crisis again, I would come down on the side of dramatic action, going down in flames if that was required.” She has remained cautious regarding Syria, but it’s telling that she used her last day at the UN to label the Security Council’s reluctance to intervene in the Syrian civil war “a stain…something that I will forever regret.”

Here at Via Meadia, though we’re not humanitarian interventionists, we’re also far from isolationists. The human toll in Syria is very real: even as Susan Rice was giving her last speech Syrian activists noted that the latest tally of deaths from the 27 months of conflict had passed a milestone: 100,000. That includes, among others, 36,661 civilians, 25,407 members of Assad’s forces, 13,539 Syrian rebels, and 169 Hezbollah fighters.

But as we’ve seen with Libya, the costs of a purely humanitarian intervention shorn of broader strategic interests can have seriously bad consequences. In Syria, there have always been important arguments for unseating Assad. Doing so would have sent a strong message to Tehran that Washington means what it says. As a result, as one former Obama administration put it, “events in Syria are spinning in Iran’s favor.”

Intervening now is like sticking a hand into a hornets’ nest. There are few options and all of them are bad. Perhaps doing something sooner would have improved the situation for the poor Syrian civilians and American strategic interests alike; perhaps not. All we know now is that sectarianism is on the rise everywhere as groups choose opposing sides of a distant conflict and the entire region is drawn further down the Syrian black hole.

[Susan Rice photo courtesy of Getty Images]

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  • JDogg Snook

    Sad about all of those civilians. Looking forward to that Hezbollah number going up though.

    • mbecker908

      In Islamic conflicts there are NO civilians.

  • qet

    I intensely dislike Susan Rice, but in fairness, Via Meadia has done a lot of handwringing itself on this situation for a long time. There is simply nothing the US can do or could have done unless you go back 5 years in which case you might as well go back 50 or 500. Providing arms to the “rebels” would inevitably mean their transference in part to terrorists for use agianst us or Israel. If we sent in troops, or established a no-fly zone, the first time a US soldier had to kill a Syrian of any description or shoot down a Syrian plane, whether in self defense or otherwise, the outcry from Syrians themselves as well as others around the world would put the US at the center of the world reportage on the situation and within weeks the mattter would become one of Syrians against the US rather than Syrian rebels against Assad. Just like in Iraq, the US would very quickly become the party blamed for Syrians slaughtering each other. Sanctions? Hahahahahaha. Humanitarian aid or assistance? LIke oil for food, it would have enriched only undesirables. No, better to let these conflagrations burn themselves out. Don’t worry about the Russians or Chinese stealing a march on us, diplomatically or otherwise. Middle Easterners don’t like Russians or Chinese any more than they like us.

    • f1b0nacc1

      As much as I dislike this administration (most especially its ludicrous excuse for a foreign policy), Via Media has got some real nerve criticizing the administration for handwringing on this. With a very few notable exceptions (and Syria does NOT fall into this group), most of the middle east is far beyond any help that the West (and most particularly the US) can or should provide.
      Let them kill each other, and perhaps the survivors might be more amenable to reason, but I rather doubt it.

      • Corlyss

        Well, let’s face it: who has the power to intervene? Who has the obligation to lead, but for the fact that Dems loathe military power unless it’s being deployed for humanitarian purposes in non-conflict zones?
        Not Via Meadia. The good professor and his troops can wring hands all they want because they don’t have the responsibility to act. Handwringing by the Administration always shooting off its mouth about its moral superiority is a whole nother thing.

        • f1b0nacc1

          I share your views re: the fecklessness of today’s left on military power, but that doesn’t change the fact that (in this case at least) there is very little that the US can do with or without military power to advance its own interests in Syria.
          Both sides are viscious barbarians, and we gain nothing by helping either side win. A victory for the rebels will harm Iranian interests and eliminate a vile dictator, but at the cost of putting in place a coalition that covers the spectrum of Islamists from radical to far radical. Lets not fool ourselves, whoever wins this messy civil war (is there another kind?) will be awful…staying out of it is likely our best strategy. We will be blamed for anything that goes wrong anyway…to paraphrase Bismark, the whole of Syria is not worth the bones of a single American soldier.

          • Corlyss

            “there is very little that the US can do with or without military power to advance its own interests in Syria.”
            IF the US has a serious national interest in Syria, one that needs protecting by military action, I agree with you as long as the US insists on fighting wars to suit the UN and the human rights lobbies. Li’l ol’ Sri Lanka showed how it should be done once the Chinese told ’em to cut the crap and finish off the Tamils. If a serious national interest is at stake, act like it and let the ankle-biters scream till they exhaust themselves.

    • jeburke

      Ditto that.

  • Corlyss

    Since the Dems are so tone-deaf when it comes to the use of the military, I’d just as soon handwringing were all they did. They are total failures when it comes to prosecuting military actions. It’s their bounden duty to slash, vilify, humiliate, and denigrate the military. Stick to that. Leave the exercise of military power to those that believe in it, i.e., Republicans.

    • bpuharic

      And how’d that Iraq war that the neocons got us into go? Big success?

  • Rich K

    These civilians had 50 years to change their fate and did nothing,so sad as it is, I, and no one in the west, should shed any tears for these animals.Let it burn as an example to the rest of the arab world.

    • xbox361

      We are bystanders on the Chicago Way.
      Nothing to do with us, didn’t see nothing.
      And it still Bush’s fault.

  • teapartydoc

    If Assad wins, his government will be perpetually illegitimate in the eyes of all. If his opponents win, they will enact the biggest bloodbath we have seen since the Cultural Revolution. I think I’d rather see a Middle Eastern country with one political and military hand tied behind it’s back than one that will simply slaughter, and look for ways to perpetuate the slaughter.

  • Barry McCleskey

    Yet another chimp led by her psychotic Zionist masters.

  • Rick Caird

    Obama was painfully unprepared for the Presidency. We could say he appointed mediocrities as his advisors, but that would be an insult to mediocrities everywhere. His appointments were not that good.

    • bpuharic

      Gee how’d the conservatives do with the presidency before Obama?

      Get us into any wars?

      Get us into any depressions?

      You were saying….

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