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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

On Responsibility
 
There is little one can say about the latest, unspeakable massacres in Syria. They strike a pain even the cold, antiquated heart of Talleyrand. Not simply on the face of it but also because they were both predictable and predicated, not least by Mr Assad himself. The world's response then was a policy of scold, combined with wait-and-see. Those who care about their interests there face an important choice now. They have to understand how the last couple of interventions look to some people. Saddam Hussein was overthrown and killed, it was said, for having wicked aims and a nasty reputation and track record. Muammar Qaddafi was overthrown and killed largely for the same reasons; both were unloved and, it is significant, comparably weak. In both cases, those who expedited the process insisted upon outsiders’ 'responsibility to protect' against anticipated outrages. But if a regime murders some 10,000 people and gives no evidence of stopping, what is the response? It’s hard to say which is more nauseating: the crying wolf or the hand wringing after the fact. Neither can compare to the desperation and fury the Syrian people must now be feeling.
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