Those who don’t learn the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them.
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In 1993, a young and new President named Bill Clinton came to power in the United States, and at about the same time a horrible genocide began unfolding in the Balkans during the Bosnian War. To his credit, President Clinton encouraged the International community to intercede, knocking on the doors of both NATO and the United Nations to urge them to join the United States and intercede.
Of course, the international community would not answer these knocks, and Clinton, a new and inexperienced President, refused to act alone. 3 years and a few hundred thousand dead women and children later, a genocide completed, and systematic rapes of 100,000’s of thousands of women completed , NATO finally decided to intercede with a bombing campaign that essentially ended the war and the slaughter within weeks. Had we acted alone, “illegally” as liberals would say, those lives would have been saved, the rapes wouldn’t have been committed, and there would be no mass graves which are still being dug up to this day.
And here we are, witnessing a slaughter in Syria, and we are doing nothing but making proclamations and condemnations. Yes, we went to the U.N. Security Council, and the results are just what we could have expected; a powerful resolution drawn up by our Ambassador to the U.N, Susan Rice, that may have ended the conflict quickly. That resolution, prior to a vote, was neutered by the criminal Chinese and Russian governments. And even then, that diluted resolution was rejected by both Russia and China.
And so Secretary of State Clinton calls the vote a “travesty”, and Susan Rice declares it an “outrage” and says she is “disgusted”. Such language immediately following the vote were encouraging, implying that alternative actions would be taken to stop the slaughter, because lack of action would be unacceptable and inhumane.
Alas, they turned out only to be words. Here we are a week later, who knows how many thousands of deaths later, and we gnash our teeth and wring our hands. We have invested so much in the U.N., and in international law and institutions, in “leading from behind”, that we find ourselves powerless to act.
If not for the tragedy that is being bestowed upon the people of Syria, it would be almost comical for them to observe all this. They would see men in suits and women in dresses at podiums making statements of condemnation and saying “this cannot stand”. As the Syrians would observe all this U.S. bluster, they watch their children die in their arms and wait for help that has not, and likely will not, come.
I recall in 1993 watching a video clip of a woman in the Balkans, face bloodied and tearful with fires burning behind her, with an anguished look on her face. She screamed towards the camera, “Where are the Americans?”
Well, where are we?