Shadow Government

How to do nothing

Bashir al Assad’s government killed another 90 civilians on Saturday, firing artillery shells into a village and following up with gunshot-to-the-temple executions. At least 32 children under the age of 10 were among the victims. If you have the stomach to bear witness to the Syrian people’s grief, most major news outlets have posted pictures.  ...

Bashir al Assad’s government killed another 90 civilians on Saturday, firing artillery shells into a village and following up with gunshot-to-the-temple executions. At least 32 children under the age of 10 were among the victims. If you have the stomach to bear witness to the Syrian people’s grief, most major news outlets have posted pictures. 

The reaction of the Free World’s leaders reads like a parody of fecklessness, but here are the actual quotes from the New York Times article:

In Washington, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton focused on what she described as the "vicious assault that involved a regime artillery and tank barrage on a residential neighborhood."

"Those who perpetrated this atrocity must be identified and held to account," she said in a statement. "And the United States will work with the international community to intensify our pressure on Assad and his cronies, whose rule by murder and fear must come to an end."

Laurent Fabius, the French foreign minister, issued a statement accusing Syria’s government of committing "new massacres" and added that France would organize a meeting of the roughly 80-member Friends of Syria group as soon as possible.

The British foreign secretary, William Hague, said Britain was looking for a strong international response and hoped to convene an "urgent" session of the United Nations Security Council "in the coming days."

The New York Times explains that the Obama administration is working with Russia to ease Assad out of power, and that "Mr. Obama, administration officials said, will press the proposal with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia next month…." But it also reveals that Obama administration National Security Advisor Tom Donilon raised the same proposals in Moscow more than three weeks ago. The massacre in Houla is what we have to show for it.

Kori Schake is the deputy director general of the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

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