Hell in Syria. Indifference in America.

In Syria, more than 40,000 people have been murdered; millions have been forced to flee; countless souls have been psychologically and physically scarred for life; entire villages, towns and farming communities no longer exist; and throngs of desperate, starving children have lost both their parents and their homes.

On December 30th, Senators McCain, Lieberman and Graham published an op-ed entitled Syria’s Descent into Hell. I urge you to read it. Contemplate the Assad regime’s unleashing of evil and the moral depravity of the American regime’s response. Here are three excerpts:

The world has failed to stop this slaughter. President Obama has declared that his ‘red line’ is Assad’s use of chemical weapons. Many Syrians, however, have told us that they see the U.S. red line as a green light for Assad to use all other weapons of war to massacre them with impunity …

For months we have argued … that the United States, together with our allies in Europe and the Middle East, must do more to stop the killing in Syria and to provide help to moderate forces among the opposition. Specifically, we have advocated providing weapons directly to vetted rebel groups and establishing a no-fly zone over part of Syria. Neither course would require putting U.S. troops on the ground or acting alone. Key allies have made clear again and again their hope for stronger American leadership and their frustration that the United States has been sitting on the sidelines …

Most distressing of all are the swiftly deteriorating humanitarian conditions in Syria. … Recent visitors to Aleppo have told us they saw no sign of U.S. aid there, nor were local Syrians aware of any American assistance. … [This has created] opportunities for extremist groups to provide relief services and thereby win even greater support from the Syrian people. To many, these extremists appear to be the only ones stepping in to help Syrians in the fight. Meanwhile, moderates in the Syrian opposition are being discredited and undercut by our lack of support. 

Nowhere is the lack of a moral compass more evident than in the Obama administration’s Syria policy – a policy indifferent to human suffering and destructive of Middle Eastern struggles for democracy. In response to the slaughter, the disappearances, the torture, the executions, the bombing of towns, the terrorizing, maiming and imprisoning of children, and the targeting of religious groups, official American policy has been to do nothing. Before America did nothing, it did positive harm; Recall that President Obama and Secretary Clinton picked the brutal Assad as Middle East “peace intermediary,” thereby emboldening and elevating him. In (non)response to the Syrian cataclysm, the administration has:

– Deferred to the U.N. Security Council, which it knew would veto any meaningful action

– Obstructed or diluted every substantive congressional proposal

– Rejected France’s call for a humanitarian corridor and Turkey’s plea for a stronger response

– Accepted a Russian-backed U.N. plan which did not call for Assad to step down

– Failed to make a moral case for the Syrian people

Rather than succumbing to the indifference that the Obama administration encourages, let us record the tragic sequence of Assad’s annihilationist policies: In response to peaceful pro-democracy protests, Assad employed heavy artillery to gun the people down. When state brutality only fanned the rebellion, he employed tanks, attack helicopters, and fighter jets against rebels and civilians alike. When that didn’t do the trick, he launched Scud missiles at the people. He now prepares, and by many accounts is already employing, chemical weapons.

The evil taking place in Syria is not Syria’s alone, and it will affect us eventually. Russia continues to abet the regime. Iran actively supports it. Hezbollah is fighting in Syria. Al Qaeda is exploiting the vacuum created by U.S. policy, using Syrian despair at American indifference to recruit Syrians. Turkey, Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan, and Israel face grave instability; Syrian war might ignite wider conflict.

I agree with the Senators: 

If we remain on the current course, future historians are likely to record the slaughter of innocent Syrians, and the resulting harm done to America’s national interests and moral standing, as a shameful failure of U.S. leadership and one of the darker chapters in our history.