US Leadership And International Law At Issue In Syria Deliberations

Regardless of whether the US takes action against Syria, Yuri M. Zhukov of Foreign Affairs says the eastern Mediterranean could be tossed into a further state of chaos.

“Whether the Syrian conflict continues in stalemate or ends in a rebel or an Assad victory, several developments seem all but certain. The regional economy is set to take a big hit. Any escalation in the eastern Mediterranean will make it costlier for energy companies to operate there, more dangerous for commercial shipping to traverse local waters, and riskier for tourists to travel,” he writes.

Cyprus, Turkey and other regional economies dependent upon tourism and still feeling the impact of the banking crisis will be weakened.

Those who may suffer most, ironically, are the Syrian people themselves.

“Meanwhile, Syrian civilians will continue to bear the heaviest burden. As demonstrated by conflicts in Sierra Leone, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and elsewhere, rebels with external support are less interested in earning local civilian support. The regime, too, has shown little concern about the population and will face pressure to make as many gains on the ground as possible while it still has the capabilities to do so. As the Kosovo experience has shown, all that may well increase civilian casualties in the near term,” he adds.

Mike Pompeo, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, counters that his fellow Republicans should support the Obama administration in taking assertive action against Bashir al-Assad.

Not only is American credibility at stake, he says, “our allies are being weakened and our enemies emboldened” by a hesitancy to hold Assad to account.

“Israel, our closest ally in the region, faces an existential threat from Iran and uncertainty in Egypt. The last thing Israel needs is Iran, Syria and Hezbollah on the march. Jordan, a close Arab ally and Israel’s partner in peace, is being destabilized by a massive influx of Syrian refugees. Turkey, our NATO ally, faces a similar refugee crisis,” the congressman writes.

US Shares In Benefit To Leadership Role William Galston addresses the role the United States plays in the global order and concludes that for better or worse, “the United States is the guarantor of the global order, which we took the lead in creating.”

Galston adds that the benefit gained from assuming this role is two-fold.

“True enough, the stability and security that this country provides allows other nations to be free-riders, to benefit from what we do without contributing to it. Understandably, the American people resent this—and when a foreign involvement backfires, they want to scale back the nation’s global role.

“But Americans benefit, perhaps more than anyone else, from the leading role the country plays in the world. The task of U.S. leaders is to remind the people that we have a lot to lose if others come to believe that we are no longer willing to bear the burdens of leadership,” he adds.

US Action Would Violate International Law
Ramesh Thakur asserts in The Japan Times that the US would violate international law if it strikes Syria.

“Military action without U.N. authorization would violate international law. No foreign country has been attacked by Syria. Other than self-defense against armed external attack, only U.N. authorization provides legal cover for military strikes. The international community cannot be collapsed into the FUKUS (France, U.K. and U.S.) coalition of the willing,” Thakur contends.

He argues further that Iraq, not Bosnia is the comparable situation.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon echoed the need to seek approval from his body before proceeding with punitive action – if evidence is found of chemical weapons use.

Speaking before heading to St. Petersburg, Russia for the G20 Summit, Ban said Syria “is about our collective responsibility to mankind.”

“I take note of the argument for action to prevent future uses of chemical weapons. At the same time, we must consider the impact of any punitive measure on efforts to prevent further bloodshed and facilitate a political resolution of the conflict,” he added.

He appealed that any decision that is made is done so within the framework of the UN Charter.


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