Wednesday, September 4, 2013

UPDATE: UC Irvine political science professor urges ICC for Assad, not military strike...

According to the CBC website, Professor of Political Science at UC
Irvine, Tony Smith, told CBC news that taking Assad to the International Criminal Court, where evidence could be collected, and Assad could be prosecuted, "in his presence"...where the world would be watching, would be preferable to any military strike.

We whole heartedly concur!...
It is more than possible that the request for authorization to strike Syria, from the White House to the Congress of the United States, will be turned down. The Congress, although several leaders on  both sides of the aisle have initially come out in favour of granting the petition, limited as it is to strikes to degrade and deter Assad's capacity to deploy chemical weapons, is so dysfunctional, and so embedded in its dysfunction that even on a foreign policy issue, under the current president, it could well be unable to reach a concensus.
Testing the limits of the elected representatives' resolve to prove their irresponsibility and their intransigence, the president is calling their bluff. Some, and we concur, consider it a prudent political move whether the final vote supports the president's decision to strike or not. Nevertheless, there are still other avenues open to the Congress and the president to call Assad to account, including the legal approaches of both the United Nations and the World Court.
It was Senator Udall from New Mexico who, in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing yesterday, urged the administration to call out Russia, and president Putin, as "supporters of the use of chemical weapons" and to hit them repeatedly with such a public charge. It was Senator Rand Paul who posed the multiple hypotheticals of what happens if we strike.... with Iran, with Hezbollah, with...and Israel, and even with Assad. Secretary of State John Kerry, nor anyone else, really cannot provide answers to such questions, although Kerry did "guarantee Paul that Assad would attack if the U.S. failed to act. It is such a step too far that is confounding this whole initiative, the capacity of any government to predict what another government will do, in the face of both military action and a failure to act. We were confronted with the prospect of mushroom clouds coming from weapons of mass destruction, uttered by the mouths of Condolessa Rice and the former President George W. Bush, along with then Vice-president Dick Cheney, prior to their attempt to intervene in the Middle East to destroy a regime and bring about the fall of Saddam Hussein.
So Bush cuts both ways: some propose that if he were president making the same request that Obama is making, the Congress would readily concur, while others point to the "cloud" of suspicion that Bush has left hanging over United States credibility, and the deployment of the U.S. military no matter what the intelligence is telling the administration.
A president who prefers no military entanglements, having got the U.S. out of Iraq, and still in the process of getting the U. S. out of Afghanistan, Obama would prefer not to have to even make this request of Congress. He has assiduously avoided any entanglements in the now-thirty-month-old civil war in Syria. Over 100,000 have died, and well over 2 million refugees have spilled over into neighbouring countries like Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon, and Egypt, and according to the Prime Minister of Sweden this morning, even into that country.
And then there is the pursuit of nuclear weapons by Assad's ally, Iran, and what the U.S. and the western countries do or say about precluding such a development. And there is also the infiltration of the Syrian rebels by Islamic terrorist elements, whose dream would be to capture some of those chemical weapons under Assad's control and deploy them against the U.S. and its allies.
We often hear about "perfect storms" around raging forest fires, or raging hurricanes, and now we are witnessing what might be called a perfect storm around the raging fire of Middle East turbulence, including, but clearly not restricted to Syria. And there no single answer, or a single approach to bringing the conflict to a peaceful resolution.
Putin and the leaders of China cannot and must not be permitted to hold the world, including the United Nations and the agencies of the world's legal system, hostage to their support for Assad. Prying both of them from their intransigence, and their intractability, on this issue, as a start at thawing relations with the rest of the world, is not the sole responsibility of President Obama; there are many other western leaders who have the ear of leaders in both countries. There is a common enemy, among radical Islamists, for all countries, including China and Russia to at least get their attention and their focus, in any discussion on Syria.
Should the Congress vote, "No!" and the Russians and Assad claim victory, along with the Chinese, there are very serious ramifications that we do not like to contemplate...and those consequences could echo through our global geopolitical conversations for decades.
It is all very well for the British Labour Party to claim they stopped this U.S. campaign dead in its tracks without having to take responsibility for the future of the Middle East. And perhaps their "isolationism" can be shown for its inherent short-sightedness, especially in the light of events that play out over the next weeks and months, if not years.
No one wants a war; everyone, including Assad and Putin, want a negotiated settlement of the civil war. However, actions speak much louder than words at this point, and Syrians are being killed, maimed and uprooted from their homes as these keys are being tapped.
The international community either insists that chemical weapons cannot be deployed or it does not.
This is not a question of whether or not some politician from Hackensack New Jersey can see past his contempt for the president. It is a question of the sinew, muscle and will of the world community going forward, in the face of despicable actions by those unable to be shamed into withdrawal, or even responsibility, given the cover provided by the political and business allies.

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