Earlier this week I criticized Hillary Clinton and Susan Rice for their high-volume indignation over Russian and Chinese vetoes of a UN resolution that would have called on Syria's president to step down. And I still think Clinton and Rice were hypocritical, given America's long tradition of overlooking the atrocities of dictators who are as close to America as Bashar al-Assad is to Russia.
Still, it looks like the public shaming of Russia may have done some good. Russian leaders are sounding pretty defensive, and Russia's foreign minister says he'll work to start negotiations between the Syrian government and the opposition. His prospects can't be great, but I've got to think Russia has a better chance of influencing Assad than that UN resolution did.
I wonder if national leaders are more sensitive to international shaming now than they were back before electronics made the world seem small. Or maybe it's just that the things they're ashamed of are harder to cover up; the images coming out of Homs must make it harder for Russia to walk away. (In 1938 Chamberlain famously described turmoil in Czechoslovakia as "a quarrel in a far-away country between people of whom we know nothing." Today you couldn't say that about Papua New Guinea.)