Many Syrians were killed and wounded over the weekend. The casualties certainly numbered in the dozens. But this is not a news story, because the public has gotten used to it and because of the news now emerging from Egypt. If the land of the Nile were to slide into a protracted, bloody civil war, it would retreat from the headlines as soon as some other important regional power caught fire.
There is one single news story that will not die: the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It gets dealt with even when the situation is calm. It is fed and fanned even when there is "no story." Possibly, the explanation for this lies in Jerusalem on Friday by U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon statements to students. Moon admitted that Israel has never gotten a fair shake at the U.N.
He is the first secretary general to admit to this since the somewhat eccentric former U.N. Secretary-General, U Thant, conducted a passive policy that sent the Middle East tumbling into the 1967 Six Day War. But even Ban will not mention these things to students in Sweden, Norway or other European countries, not to mention Arab countries.
Despite the widening gap in coverage between the slaughter in Syria and mass shooting in Egypt, there is a strong connection between the two: The United States is in retreat from the special status it formerly exercised in the Middle East. Just as there is a double standard for Israel at the U.N., the United States conducts two different policies in each of these conflict areas.
It is strange that the United States has not lifted a finger to bring down the axis of evil spreading from Tehran to Damascus to Hezbollah's headquarters in Beirut. America is in an open conflict with Iran on the nuclear issue. There is no reason for the U.S. to shrug at the possibility that Tehran's agents in Damascus and Hezbollah will remain in power.
But if the argument is that U.S. policy must refrain from intervening in a country's internal battles, why doesn't it stick to this policy in Egypt? In what way is the Egyptian army's shooting of protestors worse than the slaughter in Syria? There is no explanation for this, not even through the lens of Western democracy and the Arab Spring. When Washington fails to intervene against Assad, the U.S. is worse off. When it condemns the Egyptian army, it once again loses out. America's policy is lose-lose.
U.S. President Barack Obama did not find anything wrong with the election results that reinstated Hosni Mubarak (over 90 percent) until crowds protested in Tahrir square, and then he turned his back on him. America's concept of democracy led it to cooperate with Mohammed Morsi, who drove all of America's friends from positions of power. But if America does not object to those who seize power in Egypt and other countries by force, why does it object when its natural ally is at the helm?
When the Arab winter reaches its peak in another year or two, the U.S. will find itself without a power base in either Damascus or Cairo. Had it been consistent in its policies, it could have overcome its rivals in at least one of these blood-soaked countries.