President Obama’s failure on Syria missle strikes
By Julian Weiss, Contributing Writer
The disarmament of Syria’s Chemical Weapons program is one of the few good things which have come from the now three year old Syrian Civil War. The program was disabled after chemical attacks in Ghouta (near Damascus) by the Assad regime led the Obama administration to an- nounce its entrance into the war with an illegal missile strike.
Before the attack commenced, a welcome surprise of diplomatic wisdom from Russia led to a disarmament agreement in exchange for an indefinite recall of the American strike. The conclusion of this episode is a victory both in the field of diplomacy and in the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
However, President Obama was mistaken if he thought missile strikes would be productive in Syria. He created an immense risk for the United States, which cannot be forgotten.
The missile strike would have been illegal and done harm to America’s international credibility.
The United Nations’ charter prohibits military force that is not in self-defense or approved by the U.N. Security Council. With Russia on the Security Council, the U.S. action would never have been approved.
Although the U.N. does not have the power to enforce its charter in such situations, it is the prevailing keeper of international norms. These laws have the ability to be important checks on the powers of international actors. For instance, the U.N. Security Council would have rejected Bush’s invasion of Iraq, which would have saved America from its greatest waste of lives and resources since Vietnam.
If American administrations continue to ignore international norms when it comes to military action, costly, unilateral violence will be the only effective option as the rest of the world continues to lambast America’s military. Although violence may create more immediate pressure, it would have irreversibly hamstrung American diplomatic relations with the Assad regime, which is now decisively winning the war and will rule Syria for some time to come.
“Diplomacy is the only way forward.” The United States is a member of the Chemical Weapons Prevention treaty, which joins one hundred ninety nations by law in the disarmament of all chemical weapons.
Syria was not a party to the treaty until the events following the Ghouta attacks, but the nations which did at the time represent- ed over 97 percent of the world’s population and more than that in capital. The Obama administration has promoted the common falsity that America needs to be the world’s police and continues to fail in making serious discussions with critical nations to the development of the Middle East like Iran and Russia.
If Obama is serious about doing right by the Arab people, he needs to work with their neighbors from the beginning of actions and stop absurdly acting as if a nation across the world can possibly make history-defining decisions unilaterally in the Middle East.