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NEW YORK – The civil war in Syria has highlighted serious pitfalls for the Obama administration, especially at the United Nations in New York.
In a rare Saturday meeting, the Obama White House received a double blow as both Moscow and Peking vetoed a U.S., U.K. and French resolution aimed at pressuring Syrian President Bashar al-Assasd to step down.
The Russian-Chinese action came only hours after reported news that the Syrian government had killed hundreds in an attack on the city of Homs and that President Barack Obama issued a statement insisting Assad relinquish power.
Said Obama: “The Council now has an opportunity to stand against the Assad regime’s relentless brutality and to demonstrate that it is a credible advocate for the universal rights that are written into the U.N. Charter.”
The president insisted that “the Assad regime must come to an end.”
The diplomatic imbroglio was embarrassingly illustrated just a few hours later when U.S./U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice pleaded in full view of TV cameras with her Russian and Chinese counterparts not to veto the proposed resolution.
While Rice lobbied in New York, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton held a conference call with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who was visiting Germany.
It was the second call Clinton paid to Lavrov since the Council met in a special meeting on Syria earlier in the week.
The strain between the two foreign policy officials became evident as the week progressed.
In the end, all the U.S. efforts fell flat.
Former U.S./U.N. Ambassador John Bolton told WND he was not surprised by the Russians and Chinese: “The vetoes were entirely predictable and show why the Obama administration’s Syrian policy has repeatedly failed.”
After the Russian and Chinese vetoes, a visibly perturbed Rice told the Council members that she “was disgusted with the Russians and Chinese.”
“For months this Council has been held hostage by a couple of members,” Rice said. “These members stand behind empty arguments while delaying and seeking to strip bare efforts that would force Assad to abandon his actions.”
Rice added: “This intransigence is even more shameful when one continues to send weapons to Assad.”
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon, who opted not to attend the Council meeting, did weigh in shortly thereafter, saying he was “disappointed” with the vetoes.
Then the U.N. chief uncharacteristically blasted the Russians and Chinese action: “It undermines the role of the United Nations and the international community in this period when the Syrian authorities must hear a unified voice calling for an immediate end to its violence against the Syrian people.”
Israel’s U.N. delegation declined any comment on the Security Council developments.