A “D” in History

 

Translation from Thai 
Daily News, April 16, 2018

 

The airstrike against Syria on April 13 was an act of aggression against a sovereign state. It was committed by the United States, the United Kingdom and France in violation of the Charter of the United Nations. The action was taken without a mandate from the UN Security Council, the body on which the UN member states conferred primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security. It clearly constitutes a gross and flagrant violation of norms and principles of international law.

The legal aspect of this horrible wrongdoing is more than obvious. It must be immediately condemned by the international community in the strongest terms.

But to me the recent aggression against Syria was also a manifestation of degradation. Not only a sign of degradation and deterioration of the entire system of international relations but a sign of degradation of the perpetrators of this outrageous crime. Nations claiming to be global leaders, permanent members of the UN Security Council, members of G7 dynamited themselves in such a mess!

The airstrike was aimed at hurting Syria, not terrorists in Syria. Syria, a country devastated by the civil war but still bravely fighting on the frontline of the battle against international terrorism. Regardless of whether we like or dislike Mr. Bashaar Assad we cannot but recognize that Syria fell victim of terrorism, that Syria is a country which has been tormented by ISIS, Jabhat an-Nusra and the like for long seven years. The Syrian Government assisted by Russia and Iran has achieved an impressive progress in crushing them. However, the war is not over yet. Doesn’t that mean that the airstrike of April 13 played into the hands of terrorists giving them a breathing space and time for regrouping so that they can embark on another assault against the civilized world? What a setback for the international counterterrorism campaign!

The US President self-confidently explained to fellow Americans that the military strike had been delivered “in retaliation for suspected chemical attack”. Wait a moment! Can you imagine a person being executed in the 21st century on the grounds of suspicion? Are we living in the dark age of medieval inquisition? How about the principle of fair trial? How about presumption of innocence?

Take note that over 100 “smart missiles” were fired at targets in Syria including Duma City in the suburbs of Damascus, venue of the suspected chlorine attack one day before the beginning of investigation by experts of the Organization for Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) who had already arrived in neighboring Beirut. Maybe the real goal of the airstrike was to complicate the investigation of the fake incident, a staged poor quality drama, which – we know it for sure! – was used by liars from the “White Helmets” as a pretext for the airstrike? What a disgrace!    

These days politicians and diplomats talk about attacking foreign countries in a “business as usual” manner. In addition to disdain for international law, they demonstrate indifference if not hatred to people living in these countries. Their missiles do not target terrorists: they target civil objects and infrastructure, including airports and research centers as this time in Syria. Do those politicians and diplomats understand that every military action entails a risk of human sufferings? May bring about collateral damages?

From History lectures during my university years I remember methods used by colonial powers to reach their political objectives. They sent gunboats to harbors of countries to be colonized, and many of them had to surrender under the deterring threat coming from a stronger and more technologically advanced “guest”. The tactics of a street hooligan worked for several centuries until the Russian Revolution of 1917 and the victory over German Nazism and Japanese militarism in 1945 inspired colonies to stand up and liberate themselves from the colonial rule.

The UN General Assembly resolution 1514 also known as Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples of 1960 condemned colonialism – once and for all – as “a denial of fundamental human rights”, a phenomenon “contrary to the Charter of the United Nations” and “an impediment to the promotion of the world peace and cooperation”. Strange, but colonialism seems to remain alive as we see British and French warships firing missiles against Syria (by the way Syria was a British Protectorate from 1916 to 1920 and then a French colony from 1920 to 1946). We seem to be dealing with D-students in History. The lesson has not been learned.

Isn’t it a huge regress from such great achievements of the humankind as establishment of the United Nations with its “We the Peoples”? As decolonization? As principles of international law including “sovereign equality of states”, resolve “to settle international disputes by peaceful means” and “to refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state” (Article 2)? Isn’t it a symptom of political amnesia? Or of a moral decay?

It is shameful and sad to watch Great Britain and France, founding fathers of classical diplomacy, resorting to such inappropriate instruments as illegal sanctions, unilateral restrictions, ultimatum, intimidation, rude language, expulsion of diplomats, fake news, false accusations, orchestrated demonization of foreign countries through mass media and social networks etc. Decency is being abandoned. Bullying is becoming a new norm.

We in Russia remain hopeful that common sense will prevail. To our regret, as of now common insanity is dominant.

As Mr. Vladimir Putin, President of Russia emphasized in his statement of April 14 “the US already bears the heavy responsibility for the bloody wars in Yugoslavia, Iraq and Libya”. Here comes another one. But “history will set things right”, added Putin. No doubt about it.

 

Kirill Barsky is Ambassador of the Russian Federation to the Kingdom of Thailand

 

 

EMBASSY OF THE RUSSIAN FEDERATION

IN THE KINGDOM OF THAILAND

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