The Obama administration is absolutely furious at Russia and China. The two UN Security Council permanent members’ move on Saturday to veto a resolution on Syria utterly infuriated US President Barack Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and UN Ambassador Susan Rice. And they want us all to know just how piping mad they really are.
Rice called the vetoes “unforgivable,” and said that “any further blood that flows will be on their hands.” She said the US was “disgusted.”
Clinton called the move by Moscow and Beijing a “travesty.” She then said that the US will take action outside the UN, “with those allies and partners who support the Syrian people’s right to have a better future.”
The rhetoric employed by Obama’s top officials is striking for what it reveals about how the Obama administration perceives the purpose of rhetoric in foreign policy.
Most US leaders have used rhetoric to explain their policies. But if you take the Obama administration’s statements at face value you are left scratching your head in wonder. Specifically on Syria, if you take these statements literally, you are left wondering if Obama and his advisers are simply clueless. Because if they are serious, their indignation bespeaks a remarkable ignorance about how decisions are made at the Security Council.
Is it possible that Obama believed that Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin would betray Bashar Assad, his most important strategic ally in the Middle East? Is it possible that he believed that the same Chinese regime that systematically tramples the human rights of its people would agree to intervene in another country’s domestic affairs?
Outside the intellectual universe of the Obama administration – where stalwart US allies such as Hosni Mubarak are discarded like garbage and foes such as Hugo Chavez are wooed like Hollywood celebrities – national governments tend to base their foreign policies on their national interests.