By Jon Keller

BOSTON (CBS) – Do you remember the aftermath of September 11, 2001?

Many of us vowed that we would never again allow ourselves to become complacent about foreign affairs, about the sponsorship of mass murderers by rogue states that created a safe haven for Al Qaeda to plot its attacks on us.

We wouldn’t look the other way, many of us said, while barbarians slaughtered civilians, just because it wasn’t happening on American soil. And we wouldn’t shrink from bringing America’s unequaled clout to bear on unacceptable violence elsewhere, even when we were tired of the financial and human cost taking that role entails.

Here we are a little more than ten years later, and we’re doing everything we said we wouldn’t do.

For more than a year, the government of Syria has been systematically suppressing a civilian uprising against decades of oppression by the Assad regime by indiscriminately massacring civilians. Syria, Iran, North Korea, Iraq under Saddam Hussein, they’re all cut from the same mold, dictatorial regimes lining their pockets as they decimate their economies and brutalize religious minorities and political dissenters.

But now Syria, with military assistance from Iran and political protection within the toothless UN from Russia and China, has upped the ante by ignoring a cease-fire and sending a message to those who would challenge Assad’s fascism by going door to door and executing the most vulnerable innocents, one by one, with this past weekend’s slaughter of dozens of women and children in Homs being only the most recent and vivid example.

As always, Europe prefers to look away. Arab states that detest and fear Iran and Syria as much as anyone won’t act; they’re too busy peddling the absurd myth that Israel is the bad guy.

That leaves us as the only nation capable of arming the rebels, bringing the Russians to heel, and prodding the rest of the allegedly civilized world to grow a spine and act. But so far, we’ve done nothing, and it’s likely any action will have to wait until after election day.

No, we didn’t remember the lesson of 9/11, that it’s a fatal blunder to let the most violent tyranny fester. So now it seems we’ll have to be taught it all over again.


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