For a whole year of "Arab Spring," the Americans sought paths to the hearts of Arab world masses yet hit an impasse. Despite the repeated declarations of support for the masses' right for freedom and political reform, the stains of the past were not washed off by diplomacy and America continued to be seen as the patron of tyrants.
On Saturday, the Americans recognized an opportunity and rushed to capitalize on its. The massacre in Homs required the Americans and Europeans to act quickly. It was a moral duty, which also offered diplomatic gains.
In order to encourage Russia and China to endorse a UN Security Council resolution, a toothless draft was submitted, without economic sanctions and without an arms embargo. There was also no obligation to comply with such resolution as it was not proposed in line with the UN Charter's Chapter 7.
Yet this wasn't enough for the Russians and they attempted to also scrap a clause urging the Assad regime to remove heavy weapons from populated areas. The American and European response to this was "Niet."
The Americans realized that the Russians are resorting to foot-dragging and trying to postpone the vote. Indeed, Russia has a problem. Syria purchases Russian arms worth $4 billion and is the only state outside Russia that hosts a Russian naval base. On top of this, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who will be running for president in about a month, wishes to show that he is restoring Russia's days as a superpower in the Mideastern theater.
The moment of truth was the charged meeting between Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. The conversation between the two figures was difficult, as they found themselves at a dead-end. Russia wanted to postpone, while the US decided to put the Russian position to the test and expose the bluff, assuming there was one, via an immediate vote.
Americans stunned RussiaThe American decision to vote immediately stunned the Russians. Usually, on these issues it is customary to work behind the scenes, in a bid to reach understandings before calling for a vote, yet the massacre in Homs did not allow the Americans to wait. They recognized an opportunity and decided to put the pedal to the metal.
The veto imposed by Russia and China a few hours later did not make much difference, because the resolution which the two states refused to endorse was toothless in any case. America's objective was to portray the United States as supporting the Arab masses hungry for political freedom – in the face of Russia and China, which support a tyrant who slaughters his own people.
When America's UN Ambassador, Susan Rice, left the Security Council session and headed to the reporters waiting for her, she said: "Let me begin by speaking directly to the Syrian people. The United States stands with you, the Syrian people, and we will not rest until you and your bravery achieve your basic, universal human rights, to which all human beings are entitled."
"Today, we saw clearly which countries are prepared to support the people of Syria…as they struggle to attain a future of peace and democracy. And we saw which countries, for their narrow interests, do not," Rice added. "But let there be no doubt. The United States will continue, with partners around the world -partners particularly in the Arab world - to ratchet up the pressure on the Assad regime until finally the people's voice prevails."
Voice of America has been broadcasting to the Middle East for many years now over the head of the Arab masses. Yet this time around, America's voice aimed well. The US did not put an end to the massacre in Syria, but secured nice diplomatic dividends.