The short ride from “Soft Power” to No Power

It requires little discussion to show that the U.N. approved resolution on chemical weapons in Syria is a joke. As Brett Schaefer and Baker Spring point out, the resolution is toothless because it fails to establish a direct enforcement mechanism for assuring the complete application of Chemical Weapons Convention requirements in Syria. The resolution provides that in the event of non-compliance with its terms, the Security Council will impose undefined measures under Chapter VII of the U.N. Charter.

This means that Russia can block imposition of effective measures, as it has done repeatedly over the past two years. Schaefer and Spring remind us that Russia has made it clear all along that it opposes both sanctions and the use of force.

But the resolution is worse than toothless. It fails even to acknowledge that Syria has used chemical weapons. And it effectively makes the U.N. Security Council the partner of the Assad regime in a joint quest to a address a problem for which the regime accepts no responsibility.

It’s as if the police had responded to O.J. Simpson’s offer of a reward for information about his wife’s murder by joining forces with Simpson to investigate.

So what does our U.N. ambassador, Samantha Power, have to say about this toothless resolution? She made her name with fiery rhetoric about the horrors of practices like gassing hundreds of innocents to death. And following Assad’s use of chemical weapons she tweeted:

Reports devastating: 100s dead in streets, including kids killed by chem weapons. UN must get there fast & if true, perps must face justice.

Under the U.N. resolution, not only will the “perps” not face justice, they are not even identified. Yet today, Power praised the U.N. resolution. She stated:

Just two weeks ago, tonight’s outcome seemed utterly unimaginable. Two weeks ago, the Syrian regime had not even acknowledged the existence of its chemical weapons stockpiles. But tonight we have a shared draft resolution that was the outcome of intense diplomacy and negotiations over the past two weeks.

Actually, tonight’s outcome has seemed to us utterly inevitable since September 9, when Obama enlisted Putin as his Syria partner.

For Samantha Power, it’s no longer about zero tolerance for mass murder by a criminal state. It’s now about “shared draft resolutions” and “intense diplomacy and negotiations.” Or, to get to the heart of the matter, about doing her boss’s bidding.

As for her boss, who plucked Power from relative obscurity because of her professed outrage at mass murder, it’s about weaseling out of a political tight spot.


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