Obama, the presidential elections, Syria and Iran—Obama’s Debacle in Syria — Update #51 (June 12)

More Opinion on Obama, drones, the elections, Syria and Iran

(1) Anne-Marie Slaughter, “Syrian intervention is justifiable, and just,” The Washington Post, June 8, 2012. The author is a professor of politics and international affairs at Princeton University and former dean of Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. She was the State Department’s director of policy planning from January 2009 to January 2011.

Slaughter pinpoints the key fact that military intervention would have as its goal bringing a halt to the killing, not necessarily regime change. She writes,

Henry Kissinger recently argued against intervention in Syria [“The perils of intervention in Syria,” Sunday Opinion, June 3] on the grounds that it would imperil the foundation of world order. His analysis was based on a straw man, one put forward by the Russian and Chinese governments, that outside intervention would seek to “bring about regime change.”

The point of an intervention in Syria would be to stop the killing — to force Bashar al-Assad and his government to meet the demands of the Syrian people with reforms rather than guns. If the killing stopped, it is not clear what shape the political process would adopt, how many millions would take to the streets or whom different factions would support. The majority of Syrians would almost certainly demand that Assad leave office, but by the ballot box or a negotiated political settlement that would leave the Syrian state — in the sense of bureaucracy, the army, the courts — largely intact.

(2) David Meyers, “Inaction in Syria means a nuclear Iran more likely,”The Jerusalem Post, June 11, 2012 (23:16 h).

Meyers writes:

For more than a year, the international community has dithered and delayed action to stop the bloodshed in Syria, and there is no end in sight.

But the biggest beneficiary of the world’s inaction lies next door in Iran.

The Iranian regime has seen a world community unwilling and unable to stop a ruthless dictator from killing his own people. And Iran’s leaders have surely calculated that the world will never act to stop them from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

(The writer is a former White House staffer who is pursuing a PhD in political science.)

(3) Frida Ghitis, “Obama’s re-election delaying action on Syria?” CNN, June 11, 2012 (updated 8:57 p.m. EDT)

(4) Michael Boyle “Obama’s drone wars and the normalisation of extrajudicial murder; Executive privilege has seduced the president into a reckless ‘kill first, ask questions later’ policy that explodes the US constitution,” The Guardian, June 11, 2012.

(5) Michael Bohm, “Putin Has a Responsibility to Protect Syrians,” The Moscow Times, June 7, 2012 (opinion).

Bohm writes:

What Putin’s position on humanitarian intervention fails to recognize is that the global, collective responsibility to prevent the mass killing of civilians by government forces ­— a concept that was developed after the horrors of World War II and the Holocaust — provides a fundamental UN framework for global order and security.

Thus, the gross abuse of human rights committed by Syria’s government troops and security forces cannot be dismissed as an “internal matter” for Syrian President Bashar Assad to sort out himself, as the Kremlin maintains. It has now become an international issue by definition.

In any case, Russia needs to change its fundamental ideological position opposing UN-­sanctioned humanitarian interventions, or what the Kremlin scornfully calls “Western neointerventionism.” Russia needs to join the post-World War II era by rejecting its primitive, cynical notion of “sovereign democracy” — not only within its borders but for other countries as well.

Most of the world’s nations have adopted the Responsibility to Protect norm as a guiding principle for global order and security. It is time for Russia to take this responsibility as well.

(6) John McCain, “McCain on Syria: ‘How many more have to die?'” Tucson Sentinel, June 7, 2012.


1. The Kofi Annan 6-point peace plan was a fiasco from its conception, as pointed out here at the time. Annan had the chutzpa to state, in an interview after the meetings at the U.N. General Assembly and Security Council on Syria on June 7, that the 6-point plan had not necessarily failed, but rather that its implementation had failed. Annan’s mission has failed. He should be removed from the deliberations.

Annan has all the formulaic solutions in the U.N. quiver of arrows to draw upon with his imagination and dogged determination to stay at the center of efforts to resolve the crisis in Syria. These words are familiar: “road map”, “contact group”, etc.  They haven’t actually led to the successful conclusion of any negotiations, but rather stand for interminable negotiations leaving nothing resolved (e.g., Israel-Palestine negotiations, Iran’s nuclear program, North Korea’s nuclear program).  They will not lead to a resolution of the Syrian conflict.

Ban Ki-moon should either resign or assume responsibility for being Secretary General of the United Nations himself. We have seen far too much of Kofi Annan, and his disastrous 6-point plan which has cost over three months of time and many thousands of lives in Syria, with absolutely nothing to show for the effort. Absolutely nothing.

What the Secretary General and the Security Council need to do now is to end the delegation of their solemn duties to Annan, and assume those duties directly themselves.

2. Those Security Council members who suppport action in Syria (everyone but China and Russia) should now draft and bring to a prompt vote in public session a resolution under Chapter VII of the Charter which:

a) Establishes jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court over the crimes against humanity and war crimes that have been and are being committed in Syria, giving effect to the affirmations in earlier resolutions calling for the accountability of those responsible for these crimes; and

b) Establishes the United Nations Supervisory Mission in Syria with a new and stronger mandate, and provision for an expansion of its numbers in the future, with an immediate increase to 1,000 observers. If the Mission does not already have its own armed security personnel and armored vehicles for the protection of its members, authorization of such additional personnel and equipment should be included.

The resolution should, after a short period for consultations, be put to a public vote. The Russians and the Chinese should not be allowed to water down the resolution.

If Russia and China will not vote for even these mild steps, given the carnage in Syria which is accelerating every day, let them them cast their vetoes in the full view of the world, their own populations, and history.

Even if China and/or Russia vetoes the resolution, we would be no worse off than we are now, while the air would have been cleared for fresh thinking and prompt action to bring the atrocities in Syria to a halt.

The Trenchant Observer


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