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Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Gail Collins, "The Least We Can Do": No Mention of Genocide in Syria

Yes, the Oval Office is now inhabited for the first time by an invertebrate, but is there anyone from the op-ed staff of the president's favorite newspaper with the spine to tell the president that his Syria policy is a catastrophe?

I looked at the title of Gail Collins's latest New York Times op-ed, "The Least We Can Do" (, and asked myself, is it remotely possible that Collins, of all people, has the guts to tell Obama that his handling of the Syrian fighting marks a new nadir in American foreign policy? Answer: No. In her opinion piece, Collins would instead have us focus on Senate ratification of the UN treaty on the rights of people with disabilities. Collins concludes:

"We will now pause for a sigh. Then we will acknowledge that our choice is to give up on the U.N. or try to make it stronger. Since our recent history is crammed with disasters caused by going it alone on the international stage, that brings us down to only one good option.

We need an effective international organization that supports the rights of the world’s most vulnerable people. Ratifying that disability treaty would be one small yet useful step in that direction.

It’s such a shame we’re not willing to be part of the solution."

"We will now pause for a sigh"? "We need an effective international organization that supports the rights of the world’s most vulnerable people"? "It’s such a shame we’re not willing to be part of the solution"? Well, I may not know who "we" are, but I certainly know who "they" are. "They" are the majority of nations of the UN, consisting of monstrous tyrannical regimes which have done absolutely nothing as Syrian mass murderer Bashar al-Assad has sought to gas, bomb and starve his civilian population, i.e. currently "the world’s most vulnerable people," into submission. Does it matter to the UN? No. What "they" worry?

Yesterday, in an editorial entitled "What Next for Syria?" (, The New York Times asked "what can the world do about a civil war that has killed an estimated 136,000 people, produced nine million refugees, displaced 4.25 million civilians internally and now threatens to destabilize several other countries in the region?" The conclusion of the Times:

"Mr. Obama has resisted being pushed into a war by critics who seem to believe that force is the ultimate sign of leadership. Leadership sometimes means not going to war. It also means, in this case, persisting in the frustrating search for a peaceful solution and, short of that, some means of lessening the misery of the Syrian people."

"Leadership sometimes means not going to war"? A pity Obama didn't think of that before escalating American involvement in Afghanistan.

But more to the point, sometimes there is a middle ground between war and watching from the sidelines as 136,000 people die. A no-fly zone to prevent Assad from dropping barrel bombs on civilians and to enable the airlift of food to starving civilians? The Times editorial never mentioned this possibility, because it would force Obama to actually do something to save human lives and avert human misery.

This would be "the least we can do."

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