Just over 70 years ago, as the world was struggling to recover from the deadliest most destructive war ever, the mission statement Never Again was adopted by the United Nations. It became the major international effort to keep the peace.
While the UN can look back on a few limited successes, including situations like Cyprus and Suez where Canada played a significant role, when push has come to shove, the world body was handicapped from the start.
Russia, formerly the Soviet Union, was installed on day one as one of five permanent members of the Security Council. All five have veto power over any use of military force to end local wars, like the horrors that continue in Syria. The Russians had virtually nothing to fear when they struck from the air, killing women and children in Aleppo.
More than half a million people have died in the civil war, and millions more have lost their homes, as the brutally corrupt Assad regime has prevailed. Five years ago, there seemed to be real hope for a new era in the Middle East, but today it’s all but forgotten in the worst humanitarian crisis the world has seen since 1945.
The Americans, under Barack Obama have given it the old college try at the diplomatic table, with Secretary of State John Kerry pushing the envelope as far as he can, but without major international support, the possibilities are pretty limited.
What will happen after January 20th when The Donald takes over? Expectations have seldom been lower as the President-elect continues to skip the daily briefings on foreign policy that are available to him. What on earth is he doing besides going tweet tweet on his ‘Thank You’ tour?
In just over four weeks, American foreign policy will be lead by a hugely powerful oil executive who has Vladimir Putin on speed dial. Rex Tillerson loves doing deals with the Russian leader, but there’s been almost no sign that saving lives in Syria, and human rights generally will be high on the American agenda.
What a truly sad and tragic Christmas season it has turned out to be.
I’m Roger Currie