By DiMarkco Chandler
For the first time since 2008, both Russia and China cast a veto against the European-sponsored Security Council Resolution. It was a crucial UN showdown over the violence that rages in Syria. The council had been under pressure to come up with a decisive resolution. At issue was the use of sanctions as a tool to get the Assad regime to stop the systematic killing of civilians and turn to setting up democratic reforms. The UN resolution had been watered down to the point where the word sanctions had been completely omitted from the language. Nevertheless, both Russia and China vetoed the plan, a moment that mirrored the joint veto cast in July of 2008, when they bother vetoed a U.S. drafted resolution condemning Zimbabwe’s human rights record.
Vitaly Churkin, the Russian UN ambassador claimed that his veto should not be interpreted to mean that his country was in favor of the violence. Russia is merely opposed to it because it was “based on a philosophy of violence.”
Li Bandong of China said that “sanctions, or threat of sanctions, do not help the situation in Syria but rather complicates the situation.”
No one was as adamant as Susan Rice, who offered a brief speech expressing US disappointment with both Russia and China for their refusal to do what she called their responsibility. Rice’s attacks never mentioned the two countries by name; however, her point was understood by both.
Rice started her text by saying: “The United States is outraged that this council has utterly failed to address an urgent moral challenge and a growing threat to regional peace and security. Several members have sought for weeks to weaken and strip bare any text that would have defended the lives of innocent civilians from Assad’s brutality. Today, two members have vetoed a vastly watered down text that doesn’t even mention sanctions. Let me be clear, the United States believes that it is past time that this council assume its responsibilities and impose tough targeted sanctions, and an arms embargo on the Assad regime as we have done domestically. Yet today the courageous people of Syria can now see clearly who on this council supports their yearning for liberty and universal human rights and who does not; other’s claim that strong Security Council action on Syria would merely be a pretext for military intervention. Let there be no doubt, this is not about this is not about military intervention, this is not about Libya that is a cheap ruse by those who would rather sell arms to the Syrian regime than stand with the Syrian People.”
The Syrian UN ambassador spoke last. His speech appeared to be specifically aimed at the actions of the United States, though he never specifically identified them by name.