Watching the Carnage in Syria

By Moshe Arens


October 21, 2016


People around the world are watching the carnage in Syria, day after day. Actually, Syria as a state has not existed. We are watching men, women and children who still live in what was once Syria being killed. Over half a million have died in the past four years, over a million have fled. We are watching the killing on our television screens. And nothing is being done to stop it.

The Holocaust comes to mind. The world stood by while six million were being killed. But at the time, in the age before television and the internet, it took years before the full horror of what happened became known. Millions were already dead before the first news of the systematic killing arrived. And then it seemed too terrible to be believed, and months were wasted trying to confirm the unbelievable reports, as the killing continued. And there was the argument that in any case nothing could be done until victory over Germany had been achieved. And so, almost nothing was done to save those marked for extermination.

The daily killing in Syria is there for all to see. It can be stopped. Syrian President Bashar Assad’s army is not the German army of World War II, and Hezbollah’s fighters — Assad’s helpers — number no more than a few thousand. But the world is focusing on other things, presumably more important at the moment.

Who should be leading the move to put an end to the killing? The president of the United States, Barack Obama, of course. He is the recognized leader of the free world and he has both the duty and the power to do it. Projecting a small fraction of American power in the air, at sea and on land to the area could put an end to the carnage in Syria. He should have done it long ago. The endless procrastination, the idiotic idea that Russian President Vladimir Putin could be America’s partner in stopping the killing, has made the task more difficult. But it can still be done.

But Obama’s mind is somewhere else. He is concerned about a new Israeli settlement in Samaria or a new building in Jerusalem. He worries about Israeli “occupation of Palestinian lands,” and not Assad’s butchery in Syria. He’s got his priorities mixed up.

And Putin’s Russia? Power politics is the name of the game he is playing and scorched earth is his preferred tactic, first in Chechnya and now in Syria. He has no compunctions about helping Assad kill men, women and children as long as it serves his vision of Russia’s strategic interests.

Obama and Putin are not the only ones turning a blind eye to the ongoing tragedy in Syria. Those claiming to represent Israel’s Arab citizens, the Joint List, have still not decided whether they support Assad or his opponents and so will not condemn Assad’s butchery, but they had no problem finding common ground when it came to not attending the funeral of Shimon Peres.

Not to be outdone is the radical left in Israel. These “bleeding hearts” of B’Tselem and their associates bleed for the suffering of the Palestinian people but seem to have no compassion left in their hearts for the victims of Assad’s barrel bombs and chlorine gas.

And the United Nations Security Council, presumably the organization charged with putting an end to war crimes, what are they doing at this moment? They are listening to Israeli representatives of B’Tselem and Peace Now urging them to take action to end the Israeli “occupation” of the West Bank. And Unesco, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, finds the time to determine that there is no connection between the Jewish people and the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. And the killing in Syria goes on. Who cares?