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Sunday, December 25, 2016

Syria: Kamu, Orang2 Amerika, tangan2 kamu berlumuran darah!

Opinion Message from Syria: You, Americans, have blood on your hands
Aleppo, SyriaSyrian pro-government forces patrol an Aleppo district Dec. 12 after troops retook the area from rebel fighters. (George Ourfalian / AFP/Getty Images)

By Paul Thornton
Saturday, Dec. 24, 2016 4.00 AM

Good morning. I’m Paul Thornton, The Times’ letters editor, and it is Saturday, Dec. 24, 2016. Happy holidays to all our Opinion subscribers; I truly thank you for the time you spend each week catching up on The Times’ commentary. Now, let’s take a look back at the week in Opinion.

Don’t let the holiday spirit fool you — it didn’t stop incomprehensible bloodshed and misery from taking place in Syria, especially in what was once that country’s largest and most vibrant city, Aleppo. Syrian government forces, backed by Russia, recently retook control of the former rebel stronghold after years of conflict in which hundreds of thousands of people were killed and millions more face an uncertain future.

Writing on The Times’ op-ed page, Syrian activist Abdulfattah Alkhaled places much of the blame for the slaughter not on Russia or Damascus, but on the United States — and his rebuke is unsparing in its criticism of our government and of the American people:

Over the past few years, you have deceived us with your empty promises. From the first day of the 2011 revolution to the most recent breakdown of a life-saving evacuation effort, the killing of Syrians has been met with consistent U.S. inaction, or worse: U.S. acquiescence to Russian aggression. While the Assad and Russian regimes are responsible for the vast majority of Syrian bloodshed, by no means should you feel entitled to lecture the world based on your supposed “moral superiority.” You have let us down again and again.

After Rwanda and then after Srebrenica, you said, “Never again.” After Gaza you said nothing at all. Today, you can no longer rest on your hollow rhetoric celebrating freedom and equality. Today as Syrians, watching you glibly condemn a catastrophe that is partly of your own making, we ask if you feel any shame at all for your inaction.

President Obama, you declared that if President Assad used chemical weapons against his enemies, he’d be crossing a “red line.” You watched him cross it. Aren’t you ashamed? Ashamed that your concern and care for the Syrian people evaporated at the first sign of difficulty and complication? Are you not embarrassed that “strategic overseas interests” trumped your willingness to take any and all steps necessary to stop the wanton death of hundreds of thousands?

Do you and your spokespeople at the U.N. and beyond look in the mirror and think, “We encouraged the Syrian people to rise up, and then watched impassively as they were slaughtered for it”? Do you not feel cowardly for refusing to engage and confront Russian aggression beyond shallow public condemnations?

And President-elect Trump, have you no shame in your public affirmation of Russia as the U.S.’s strategic partner in Syria? The same Russia that has joined the Assad regime in massacring the Syrian people. Are you not uncomfortable with stating publicly that the Assad regime is fighting Islamic State despite the evidence suggesting that Assad has actually facilitated the growth, expansion and survival of Islamic State?

President Obama and President-elect Trump, your silence is deafening and has set a dangerous global precedent. You should be ashamed.

» Click here to read more.

Syria is President Obama’s greatest foreign policy failure. Columnist Doyle McManus notes that comments critical of Syria by Samantha Power, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, and Secretary of State John F. Kerry were anguished and sincere because they wanted President Obama to back up his support for the Syrian rebels with action. But the president failed to help, making the fall of Aleppo unsurprising. L.A. Times

Readers have been more supportive of Obama. They praised the president for withholding American forces from involvement in Syria’s civil war, saying it’s unfair to call the administration’s non-participation in a no-win situation a failure. “Every recent U.S. intervention in the Middle East has made the situation worse,” wrote John La Grange of Solana Beach. “Given the hole that we are in, stopping digging may have been the best choice Obama could have made.” L.A. Times

The GOP’s Christmas gift to America: repealing Obamacare without a backup plan. Like those out-of-pocket maximum protections, the ability to keep your child on your insurance plan until the age or 26 and free birth control? So do many Americans, but Republicans are so focused on repealing the Affordable Care Act that they’re “ignoring the catastrophe they could create,” says The Times editorial board: “It appears that Republicans are so determined simply to repeal the law, they’re going to make things worse in the short term with uncertain prospects at best for ever making them better over the long run.” L.A. Times

Don’t push away the white supremacists; confront them. UC Irvine Chancellor Howard Gillman encourages college students to fight the urge to block “alt-right” figureheads such as Richard Spencer from speaking on campus, and instead expose their hate to the light of day by engaging them. “Hate speech is like mold,” Gillman writes. “Its enemies are bright light and fresh air.” L.A. Times

Was the 405 Freeway widening worth it? A New York Times report implies that the answer is no, noting the years-long disruption and $600-million cost overrun of an effort to relieve congestion that may not even have the desired effect. Former L.A. County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky has misgivings: “I doubt the project would have been undertaken in the first place if we’d known it would cost $1.6 billion. There’s a lot of bad taste in my mouth about this. There were mistakes made all around. It was a nightmare of a project.” New York Times

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