President Obama now seeks Congressional approval for a military strike against Syria.
The Congress should save us and the President from this proposed folly by declining to authorize it. The US and its allies should refrain from attacking Syria and instead promote a durable ceasefire and a political solution.
Assuming chemical weapons were used in Syria last month, who used them will likely remain unclear. Carla del Ponte, former Swiss war crimes prosecutor and a member of a UN commission of inquiry on Syria, said last June in an interview with Swiss Italian broadcaster RSI that, “According to the testimonies we have gathered, the rebels have used chemical weapons, making use of sarin gas.”
An attack on Syria without UN authorization would in any case be a clear violation of international law. It would also be ill-advised, hypocritical, and deeply immoral.
As a senior British military commander told the Financial Times (8/29/13), “The idea that the west can neatly restrict any attack to a short duration punishment with the limits drawn exclusively by us is naïve in the extreme.”
If the President is really upset by the use of chemical weapons, perhaps he could arrange compensation for the victims of US use of other internationally condemned weapons of war, such as cluster bombs, depleted uranium, and white phosphorous in Iraq and Afghanistan, and Agent Orange in Vietnam. This is not to diminish or denigrate the horror of chemical weapons. But unexploded cluster bombs can release over a wide area tiny bomblets that can do terrible harm to children who pick them up. Iraqis are suffering terrible birth defects, especially in Fallujah, in the wake of widespread use of depleted uranium by the US military. White phosphorus gas melts the skin and burns to the bone.
For more on these issues, see “Killing Civilians to Protect Civilians” by law professor Marjorie Cohn and attorney Jeanne Mirer, at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/marjorie-cohn/syria-civilians-violence_b_3826961.html.