“My View” from the May 31, 2012 edition of “Viewpoint with Eliot Spitzer.”
A year has passed since the Arab Spring swept dictatorial leaders aside in Tunisia, Libya and Egypt. And while the results in these nations are not precisely what we might have hoped, the move towards democracy and freedom is welcome and historic.
Which is why the hesitancy we have shown in supporting the next front in the Arab Spring — the Free Syria forces opposing Assad’s tyrannical regime — is more than a bit troubling. Assad is raining violence, mayhem, murder and cruelty down on his own citizens, with over 10,000 killed and countless numbers tortured.
Meanwhile, we have been waiting for others to lead. Waiting for Kofi Annan’s well-intentioned but now irrelevant ceasefire to take hold. Waiting for the Russians to join us in abandoning their ally. And by waiting, we permit Assad’s methods to go unchecked, placing the risk of another Bosnia or Darfur in our hands.
As those of you who saw former Ambassador Marc Ginsberg on the show Tuesday evening know, there is much we can do that falls far short of putting troops on the ground.
These steps can be separated into two categories: those that, while symbolic, are still important, and those that are actually tangible, that will either increase pressure on the Syrian government or provide direct assistance to those most in need.
First, the symbolic:
• Delegitimize Assad by filing charges against him in the International Criminal Court.
• Isolate Russia by making perfectly clear to the international community that Russia is standing in the way of action against Assad — force Russia over and over to veto a resolution before the UN Security Council.
And the tangible:
• Provide arms to the Free Syrian Forces so they can fight back and are not at the mercy of Assad’s greater fire power.
• Impose sanctions on any company that we believe is shipping arms to Assad.
• And impose financial sanctions against Syria that are akin to what we have imposed on Iran.
Most of all, show the leadership that has been lacking so far. This is no longer a situation where basic humanitarian principles permit us to lead from behind — or worse, not lead at all.
That’s “My View.”