avatar
Optimism And Fear: President Obama on War in Syria


 

 

 

 

line-height:150%;font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif";mso-fareast-font-family:
"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"”>Boston Globe
font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif";mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";
mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"”>the President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.”
 

All of that led to the drive towards war slowing a bit. But it didn’t stop. And that’s a problem. Because whatever Congress may decide, a U.S. military strike against Syria will still be illegal, immoral and dangerous, even reckless in the region and around the world. Congress needs to say NO.

 

ILLEGAL 

 

 

mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman";
color:black”> 
mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman";
color:black”>IMMORAL 

font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif";mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";
mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"”>

font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif";mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";
mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"”>

mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman";
color:black”>A U.S. military strike on Syria will increase levels of violence and instability inside the country, in the region, and around the world. Inside Syria, aside from immediate casualties and damage to the already shattered country, reports are already coming in (including from al Jazeera, known for its strong support of the Syrian opposition) of thousands of Syrian refugees returning from Lebanon to “stand with their government” when the country is under attack. It could lead to greater support to the brutal regime in Damascus. In Kosovo, more Kosovars were forcibly expelled from their homes by the Serbian regime after the NATO bombing began than had happened before it started; Syrian civilians could face similar retaliation from the government.
 

 

 

 

 

mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman";
color:black”> 
mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman";
color:black”>SO WHAT SHOULD THE U.S. DO? 
mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman";
color:black”>First thing, stop this false dichotomy of it’s either military force or nothing. The use of chemical weapons is a war crime, it is indeed what Secretary Kerry called a “moral obscenity.” Whoever used such a weapon should be held accountable. So what do we do about it?

font-family:"Verdana","sans-serif";mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman";
mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman"”>

  • First, do no harm. Don’t kill more people in the name of enforcing an international norm.
  • Recognize that international law requires international enforcement; no one country, not even the most powerful, has the right to act as unilateral cop. Move to support international jurisdiction and enforcement, including calling for a second UN investigation to follow-up the current weapons inspection team, this one to determine who was responsible for the attack.
  • Recommend that whoever is found responsible be brought to justice in The Hague at the International Criminal Court, understanding that timing of such indictments might require adjustment to take into account ceasefire negotiations in Syria.
  • President Obama can distinguish himself powerfully from his unilateralist predecessor by announcing an immediate campaign not only to get the Senate to ratify the International Criminal Court, but to strengthen the Court and provide it with serious global enforcement capacity.
  • Move urgently towards a ceasefire and arms embargo in Syria. Russia must stop, and must push Iran to stop arming and funding the Syrian regime. The U.S. must stop, and must push Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, Jordan and others to stop arming and funding the opposition, including the extremist elements. That won’t be easy – for Washington it may require telling the Saudis and Qataris that if they don’t stop, we will cancel all existing weapons contracts with those countries. (As my colleague David Wildman has said, why don’t we demand that the Pentagon deal with arms producers the way the Dept of Agriculture deals with farmers – pay them NOT to produce weapons. And then the money can be used to retool their factories to produce solar panels instead of Tomahawk missiles, and the workers stay on the job….)
  • Stand against further escalation of the Syrian civil war by voting NO on any authorization for U.S. military strikes.