Russian Veto Threat Turns Tables on Biased American Policies

By Ray Hanania

February 1, 2012 5 min read

The United States and its allies planned to introduce tough new sanctions against the Government of Syria in the United Nations Security Council, but the government of Russia has said "Nyet!"

Russia says it will not support international intervention in Syria, where pro-democracy protesters have been battling with the brutal regime of dictator Bashar al-Assad. With a Russian veto guaranteed, there's no chance that the UN Security Council will be able to adopt tough sanctions to pressure Assad.

That's a shame, on one hand. The people of Syria have been brutalized long enough by the Syrian dictator, although, in truth, every Arab country is governed by a dictator of varying levels of brutality and oppression. On the other hand, now maybe the United States knows what it's like to have politics stand in the way of justice.

Since 1948, the United States has acted far worse than any other member of the UN Security Council in using its veto to protect its political ally. Why should Russia, based on the American practice, be any different?

The United States has used its veto to prevent the International World Body from adopting resolutions critical of Israel, America's primary Middle East ally. Since 1970, the United States has cast 44 vetoes to prevent the UN Security Council from condemning Israeli actions against Palestinian civilians living under Israel's military occupation. Don't the Palestinian people have the same rights as any other citizen to freedom?

The U.S. has even used the veto to block resolutions that have reflected American foreign policy. Last year, the U.S. vetoed a resolution condemning the expansion and building of illegal Jewish-only settlements in the occupied West Bank, even though official U.S. policy opposes settlement-building as an obstacle to peace.

In other words, even when American foreign policy is at stake, the United States will contradict that policy to stand with Israel.

When the United States is willing to abuse its veto power to protect a guilty ally, why shouldn't Russia do the same? Why are the U.S. and its allies now excoriating Russia for doing in the Security Council what the U.S. has done there, too — and has done far more often?

The issue here isn't about whether or not Syria is brutalizing its citizens. It is, and it has murdered thousands since protests began last year as a part of the chilly Arab Spring. I say "chilly" because despite the name, which suggests the Arab world will experience a new fresh era of democracy, Arab dictators and military regimes have been manipulating the protests to their own advantage.

Some of the worst Arab dictators have been leading the charge against Syria, and the Arab world protests have not been honest. None of the Arab countries that supports regime change in Syria is doing so to defend the rights of Syrians to freedom and an end to repression. They're doing it because of sectarian differences.

The Arab world is predominantly Sunni Muslim, while the Syrian Regime is Alawite, an offshoot of the Shiite Muslim sect. That religious difference has pitted Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states against Syria for more than a quarter-century. Only hatred of Israel's brutality has united them, and even then, the unity has been a mirage.

The Gulf Arab states want Syria to be ruled by a Sunni government. And they won't care if the Sunni government is a democracy or another brutal tyranny. That religious unity is also behind the Gulf states' unity against Iran, which is a Shiite nation.

Any idiot can see through the charade of how the Arab world leaders are claiming to support democracy. The United States can certainly see through the phony motives.

But the United States is more political than anyone. Their exercise of veto power in the UN Security Council has been cast more often against justice and freedom than it has been cast on the side of the defense of freedom.

This battle isn't about the poor victims of Syrian brutality. It is all about power politics. And if the United States wasn't such a hypocrite in the UN Security Council already, maybe it would've been the perfect voice to point that out.

Ray Hanania is an award-winning Palestinian American columnist. To find out more about Ray Hanania and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit www.creators.com.

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