By Ray Fleming

THERE has been a torrent of abuse directed at Russia and China for their veto of the UN Security Council resolution on Syria supported by the other 13 Council members. “Breathtaking arrogance” and “monstrous hypocrisy” were typical descriptions of the attitudes of Russia, apparently concerned for its own advantageous military and other agreements with President Assad, and of China, probably fearful of a UN vote that upheld the rights of people repressed by their governments. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was in vituperate form at the weekend, claiming that what happened in the Security Council was “a travesty”. But in fact what happened was two permanent members of the Security Council using their right to veto a substantive resolution for reasons which Russia set out in some detail. That right is something which the United States has used freely over the years --- on 82 occasions between 1946 and 2007 --- in a great number of cases in defence of Israel, and has also often prevented votes merely by making its position clear in advance. The killing in Syria is awful and should be condemned -- but so was the killing of 100'000 innocent Iraqis by America which is seldom heard of. The Times called the vetoes “the most serious East-West confrontation since the end of the Cold War”. All the more reason to avoid arrogant and hypocritical grandstanding.