When the regime of Qaddafi started to crumble, he reacted quickly and brutally, attacking his own citizens. Not much differently Assad is trying now to crash down the insurgency. Years before Saddam Hussein did the same. The rationale is the following: the power of the state is always borrowed from the people and when a leader suppresses in blood the request of change, he is committing an heinous, criminal act.
So far, so good. But when you wave the flag of humanitarian principle only when it’s convenient, it becomes only another trick, a move amongst the other. The West brands itself as the champion of the human rights and everybody recognizes that Qaddafi and Hussein were bloody tyrants. Assad was governing with the iron fist and the brutality of the repression, though unexpected in the West, has been rapidly condemned. But for example in Bahrain, the silence of the governments has been almost deafening. And I will remind also of the case of Sri Lanka. It is slightly different, the enemy wasn’t a spontaneous movement of a season.
The LTTE was a very organized army and engaged the Sri Lankan government for almost 30 years. The elimination of that army is not really the problem. The issue involves the civilians killed in the final stage of the conflict, with the military victory already defined. The UN has already estimated the toll of the victims: 40 000. But other sources refer to more than 100 000. What was the condemnation from the West? None.
In private of course, the diplomats are expressing quite clearly their opinions. It has just recently published a Wikileaks, dating September 2009, where the US ambassador stating that the Sri Lankan administration lost any credibility.
The government chased more than 500 000 people with heavy artillery, with the shelling hitting hospitals and other emergency shelters. What happened to the humanitarian principles? Disappeared on the shores of Mullivaikal.
The problem with such changeable ethics is that you start to doubt even when it is righteous. I have little doubts that the Libyan and Syrian regime are committing atrocities. But the point is: the support against them occurs for this reason? To bring more justice? This is not just an intellectual debate. The West amassed credibility amongst its own citizens because of the right cause it is supposed to fight. The big question marks on China is precisely with regards of the lack of transparency about principles. Leaders in the West are not rulers and when they lost the battle for principles, they lose the right to lead. But if the West systematically supports regime-change for its tactical advantage, it loses any credibility of its stance. So if the principle stands, that government must not attack their own citizens, why Syria and Lybia on one side and Sri Lanka and Bahrain on the other?