Rami G. Khouri writes: I chuckled softly to myself last week when I followed the news coverage of how angrily the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, condemned the Russian and Chinese vetoes of a Security Council resolution that sought to end the escalating conflict in Syria. The media emphasized that Rice was really, really angry, as only a righteous American ambassador can be when condemning moves by other great powers to use their veto to stop collective action by the council in the service of applying the rule of law.
Rice said that she was “disgusted” by the double veto, and added that, “A couple of members of this council remain steadfast in their willingness to sell out the Syrian people and shield a craven tyrant.”
She was correct, of course, and we should all share her anger at the double veto, because the ongoing killings by all sides in Syria are unacceptable by any standards. We should take her position seriously because displays of public anger by ambassadors are noteworthy in themselves, and this is especially true for ambassadors of powerful countries like the United States that send their army around the world at will, usually at great cost to all involved.
Yet I chuckle nevertheless, because am not sure whether we should assess Ms. Rice’s outburst at the level of Russian and Chinese policy, conditions in Syria, the work of the U.N. Security Council, or the foreign policy consistency or duplicity of the United States.
Each of these domains is significant. Yet try as I may, I cannot take Rice and the U.S. seriously here, because the U.S. sets the world’s gold standard on using vetoes in the Security Council to shield criminal activity, by Israel in particular. I am not sure if Rice and the U.S. government think the world is stupid or merely perpetually servile to American swagger.