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The Times
  • Editorial: Assad's savagery goes on as the world watches, fails to act

  • Bashar al-Assad's war on his own people continues in Syria, while the United Nations proves its impotence behind a Security Council not worthy of the name.

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  • Bashar al-Assad's war on his own people continues in Syria, while the United Nations proves its impotence behind a Security Council not worthy of the name.
    At least 12,000 Syrians have died thus far at the hands of their own government, with no end in sight as the shelling continues. In just the last two weeks, reports have surfaced of four massacres. Between rockets fired on homes from helicopters and door-to-door attacks that allegedly have included garroting and burning victims alive - some of them children - the details of the butchery and the subsequent attempts to buy time to cover it all up are bone chilling. Sunni Muslims - with a majority of the population if not seats in Syria's government - in particular have been targeted. If these are not crimes against humanity, then the term has no meaning. If this is what the U.N. calls a "cease fire," then that term means nothing, as well.
    Yet the U.N. does little but chronicle the casualties. Kofi Annan, special envoy for the U.N. and the Arab League, put together a peace plan that may still have them doubled over in laughter in the halls of hell in Damascus. He has insisted that his proposal can work if only the global powers would get unanimously behind it. Well, sure, and Chicago's Cubs are the odds-on favorite to win this year's World Series.
    There is virtually no chance that China and Russia - still selling weapons to Assad - will refrain from continuing to defend the indefensible, no doubt cognizant of their own human rights atrocities. Washington is supposedly talking to Moscow, but fat chance of getting any traction there.
    More and more, this is looking like the situation in the Balkans in the 1990s, which ultimately required outside intervention - from NATO - and the removal of Serbian tyrant Slobodan Milosevic to stop the sectarian bloodshed, or so-called "ethnic cleansing" there.
    Just because the Russians and Chinese are missing their moral voice, if they ever had one, does not mean the United States has to follow suit. The reluctance to intervene unilaterally and militarily in any direct way is appreciated, and remains warranted at this juncture - we have our hands full - but President Obama should not hesitate to call Assad out for the war criminal he is and to lead the charge for his indictment by the International Court. The president need not be particularly flattering in his comments regarding Russia or China, either. George W. Bush got a fair amount of grief for his "axis of evil" comments, but at least there was no question as to where the United States stood. Assad is massacring innocent civilians; there is no rationalization for that. Such emphatic clarity from the White House is needed now.
    Page 2 of 2 - Iran-like economic sanctions on Syria are a slam dunk, with participation not only from Europe but from the Arab League. It almost goes without saying that more humanitarian assistance should be provided, to the degree that safety zones can be established. Arming the opposition to the Syrian government in this 16-month-old civil war should be on the table, with an emphasis on containing the fighting to within Syria's borders. The Arab League, which by far has the most to win or lose here, could be of assistance, and frankly should be taking the lead.
    What is clear is that no diplomatic solution is to be had. Monsters of Assad's ilk have no understanding of the term. Do not mistake the tailored suits or the educated bearing or the Britain-born wife; Assad is a savage who like all such beasts speaks only in the language of force. Things must end badly for him, either as they did for Moammar Gadhafi at the hands of his own people in Libya, or as they did for Charles Taylor, the deposed leader of Liberia, recently at The Hague.
    The time for in-betweens has passed. How long will the world stand by as evil happens before its very eyes?
    Journal Star of Peoria, Ill.
     
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