Resetting with Russia and China

Given Russia’s and the People’s Republic of China’s veto of an Arab League motion before the UN’s Security Council “aimed at ending the violence in Syria that called for Mr. Assad to hand over his powers to his vice president and allow creation of a unity government,” vetoes that came hours after Assad’s murderous artillery bombardment of the Syrian city of Homs with an estimated 200 civilian deaths )about which Russia and the PRC surely knew), it may be time to “reset” relations.

Plainly, these vetoes are motivated by either, or both, of two things.  Others have written of Putin’s reluctance to admit that a dysfunctional, even dishonest, much less a murderous government should be susceptible to abolishment by the people: for one thing, Syria is important to a Russian naval presence in the Med, for another, Putin doesn’t want to encourage the Russian people along the same lines, and so on.  Other Chinese motives also seem apparent: Iran is a convenient source of needed oil, and Syria is an important, if not critical, ally of the Iranians.

Another motive is much more stark.  A butcher in charge of Syria hurts the US.  American impotence in dealing with this butcher, especially after the benign (compared to the Syrian situation) affair of Gadhafi, hurts the US.  Vetoes of American-backed (if Arab-led in the present instance) public initiatives demonstrate that impotence.

Following these vetoes, we’re getting some unusually strongly couched statements from President Obama’s State Department.  UN Ambassador Susan Rice has said of the vetoes

The United States is disgusted that a couple of members of this Council continue to prevent us from fulfilling our sole purpose.


The people of Syria…have been slapped in the face by several members of the Security Council today.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said

What happened yesterday at the United Nations was a travesty.


Faced with a neutered Security Council, we have to redouble our efforts outside of the United Nations….


We will work to expose those who are still funding the regime and sending it weapons to be used against defenseless Syrians, including women and children….

The question becomes, then, is this a sign that resetting is beginning?  Or is it just more idle chit-chat and firm finger-shaking from the Obama administration?

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