Announcing the first Article Series from Of Politics and Men: Syria and the “Mantle of Leadership”
The great play of sovereignty, with all its pomp and panoply,
can now be seen for what it hides: a posturing troupe of human actors,
who when off-stage are sometimes prone to rape the chorus.
– Geoffrey Robertson, Crimes Against Humanity: The Struggle for Global Justice
Since March 2011, Syria’s President, Bashar al-Assad, has been relentless in his attempt to crush an uprising, slaughtering thousands of civilians whom he considers members of terrorist gangs financed by hostile foreign powers. In the backdrop the world watches. Hiding behind the curtain of sovereignty. Waiting for someone else to act.On October 8, 2012, Mitt Romney delivered a speech at the Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, Virginia, entitled “The Mantle of Leadership.” In that speech, Romney acknowledged “the struggle that is now shaking the entire Middle East to its foundation,” and attempted to stake out a more activist position than President Obama with regard to supporting the Syrian rebels. Romney pledged to “work with our Partners to identify and organize those members of the opposition who share our values and ensure they obtain the arms they need to defeat [Syrian President Bashar al-]Assad’s tanks, helicopters, and fighter jets.” Doing so was crucial, according to Romney, so that the United States could “develop influence with those forces in Syria that will one day lead a country that sits at the heart of the Middle East.”
Although Romney’s speech was characteristically short on specifics, his position on Syria is notable because it represents a marked distinction between the two campaigns. Specifically, Romney’s support for equipping the Syrian rebels is at odds with the Obama Administration’s hesitancy due to a concern that the weapons could end up in terrorist hands.It is vitally important that both campaigns engage in a fervent public debate regarding how the United States should respond to the gross and systematic human rights violations in Syria. Recent events between Turkey and Syria have only heightened the necessity and urgency of this debate. This past weekend, Syrian and Turkish forces exchanged fire after three Syrian shells landed in a Turkish border town, prompting Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu to warn that “any future attack on Turkey from anywhere will be silenced.” And as tensions continue to mount, NATO has began preparing to defend NATO-member Turkey should the war in Syria continue to spill over the border.
Syria and “The Mantle of Leadership” is the first series Of Politics and Men will produce. While it is important that our presidential candidates debate the next steps the United States must take, it is equally important to understand the international framework that has permitted the crisis to continue for so long a time, and what we can do to better respond to gross and systematic violations of human rights in the future. This Article Series attempts to explain our current predicament and to offer such a vision for the future. Specifically, Syria and “The Mantle of Leadership” argues that the international communities failure to respond to human rights violations in Syria represents a failure to enforce the fundamental rules of international humanitarian law proclaimed at Nuremberg, promises that remain unfulfilled because of a lack of political will at the national and international level. To prevent the recurrence of this scenario, the international community should adopt a binding principle, founded upon the responsibility to protect, to both promote and protect international human rights.
Syria and “The Mantle of Leadership” contains six (6) parts. The articles form a coherent whole and are meant to be read in order. Originally, these articles were to be released over a six week period, but given the immediacy of the situation and the importance of the issue, they will be released prior to the third and final presidential debate on October 22, 2012, which centers on foreign policy. Each article written as part of this series can be found in the Archives.