A recent offer by Russia may be a ray of sunshine, but then again it may be nothing but a cynical ruse.
On Monday, Russia announced it would be willing to help Syria gather up and dismantle its stockpiles of nerve gas, the same kind of gas the Assad regime used to slaughter more than 1,400 people, including 400 children.
People throughout the world, including those in the Obama Administration, have greeted Russia’s offer with extreme skepticism. It is Russia, after all, that has been a virtual accomplice in Syria’s use of nerve gas. From the get-go, Russia’s Vladimir Putin claimed it wasn’t done by Assad’s military, that it was perpetrated by rebel factions. Go figure. What else can you expect from the Russian government, which has long been a flagrant abuser of human rights?
Syria quickly agreed to the Russian offer. What a breathless switcheroo. Just the week before, the Assad regime was denying it even has stores of nerve gas.
It would be nice to think both Russia and Syria have had a change of heart and that they are suddenly responsible and accountable. Dare we hope they have developed a conscience or deep regret about the heinous crime that was committed? Well, don’t hold your breath, folks. As U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said, “Nothing concentrates the mind like the prospect of a hanging.”
There can be no doubt it’s the threat of missile strikes that caused Russia and Syria to “concentrate their minds.” We can only hope, at this writing, the U.S. Congress authorizes President Obama to use strikes against Syria, with a limited time frame and strict provisions.
The Russia-Syria offer is a good development, however, for the following reasons. If those countries are merely bluffing to buy time or forestall an attack, their ruse will backfire on them. More and more countries are slowly but surely getting the point – that chemical attacks cannot be tolerated anywhere in the world and that all countries must unite, with punitive actions, against such monstrous perpetrators. Let’s remember virtually every country, including Russia, signed an international agreement long ago forbidding and condemning any use of weapons of mass destruction, including nerve gas.
The Russia-Syria offer might give a new impetus for the United Nations to take actions against Syria, especially if the offer proves to be a time-delaying tactic. One reason Obama is so stuck between a rock and a hard place with his lonely decision is because of the failure of so many countries and the United Nations to immediately rally together and to condemn the nerve-gas attack, to live up to the agreement signed years ago. Obama is the only one who had the guts to roundly condemn the attack and to vow to punish the Syrian regime for doing it. Let’s hope the Russia-Syria offer finally unites the world and all the forces of diplomacy (and retaliatory force if necessary) against Syria’s barbarism.
It may take time, but the Syrian regime is not going to get away with its nerve-gas crimes. Make no mistake, sooner or later, one way or another, it’s going to pay – and pay deeply – for what it’s done.