Roberta Jacobson, the top U.S. State Department official in charge of Latin American affairs, told me Wednesday that “there is disappointment that more countries (in the region) would not have put out stronger statements condemning the Assad government’s use of Sarin gas, and supporting the Geneva U.S.-Russia agreements.”
Jacobson added that “countries in the Western Hemisphere want to be, and increasingly are, global actors. (But) If countries want to be global players, they should step up and confront challenges to the international community.”
My opinion: It’s entirely legitimate for Latin American countries to oppose a unilateral U.S. intervention in Syria, or even a U.S. intervention with dozens of allied countries but without the blessing of the United Nations. I myself have serious doubts about the wisdom of an intervention to stop Syria’s war crimes without some sort of U.N. cover.
But defending a dictator who has massacred a sizable part of the 100,000 people who have died in Syria’s civil war, and who according to all available evidence is responsible for the Aug. 21 attack with chemical weapons, is outrageous.
Maduro may be over-reacting on Syria because he needs to keep his Chavista radical base behind him after his dubious and narrow election victory April 14. His almost daily blunders, alongside Venezuela’s steep economic decline, are seriously weakening his government. And his adoration for dictators may explain his natural sympathy for Assad.
Still, Venezuela’s enthusiastic support for the Syrian regime after the Aug. 21 attack with chemical weapons should be denounced by everybody for what it is: an open defense of crimes against humanity.