For the last six years, Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad has literally been allowed to get away with murder. This week his forces once again gassed their own people to death, including women and children, demonstrating Assad’s complete disregard for the sanctity of human life. So far, the international community has been unwilling to take the necessary steps to bring an end to the carnage.
Despite stark warnings by the United States not to use chemical weapons, Assad’s government did just that in 2013. Unfortunately, the Obama administration made a huge strategic error by declining to live up to our word, and in essence choosing to look away from Assad’s gross violation of America’s stated “red line.” In total, over a quarter million people have been killed in fighting in Syria, with millions more displaced.
The events have been disturbing at a level that is hard to even comprehend. Syrian civilians have been summarily executed. The Syrian military has bombed hospitals, clinics and aid workers trying to bring relief to the injured. Barrel bombs, designed to inflict maximum casualties, have been dropped wantonly on civilian areas not by mistake, but by design.
Today, Russia is continuing to empower Assad by blocking diplomatic moves to hold Syria accountable for its actions. Essentially, Assad is being given diplomatic cover at Turtle Bay so that Russia can retain a foothold and influence in the Middle East.
As news began to break of the latest chemical weapon attack, the Russian ambassador to the U.N. put forward a narrative completely divorced from reality, suggesting that Syrian airstrikes of rebel weapons on the ground released the chemicals that caused the massacre. Such a ridiculous assertion has been widely rejected by experts who contend that the rebels, with their limited military capabilities, certainly do not have access to chemical weapons.
The UN and its ability to act against Syria is being cynically stymied by continuous Russian intransigence. The United States is correctly calling for collective action by our allies to address the murder and mayhem that continues to be a part of daily life in Syria.
Nikki Haley, the excellent U.S. Ambassador to the UN, deserves credit for speaking bluntly and delivering the truth about the situation. Her scathing critique of Russia following this latest outrage was on point. Her decision to hold aloft actual pictures of children gassed to death by Assad and his military murder machine were theatrical, but stunningly effective at bringing attention to the gravity of the war and the heinous nature of Syria’s crimes. “How many more children have to die before Russia cares?” she asked.
Haley was right when she asserted that sometimes states have to act in their best interests without waiting for the UN. Time and again, the UN has proven itself to be completely ineffective when needed the most.
Video footage taken at the scene of the latest chemical weapons attack shows women and children foaming at the mouth and writhing in agony. Yes, it is very hard to look at, but we do not have the luxury of continuing to look away.
Russia should be ashamed of its support for a maniacal dictator whose depravity appears to know no depths. How many more innocents have to die before the world demands that Russia stop covering for the Assad regime. What will it take to bring a final end to this horror? That remains to be seen; however, continuing on our present course without trying new ways to stop the killing will yield the same result: more destruction, bloodshed and murder.
Mr. Williams is Manager / Sole Owner of Howard Stirk Holdings I & II Broadcast Television Stations and the 2016 Multicultural Media Broadcast Owner of the year.