Here we are again. A war crime has been committed and Western states (the old WWII allies: USA, UK and France) try to find the right response. Their leaders are very quick in coming up with the idea of some kind of military action. The president tweets from new and smart missiles as if he has just got an email from his military industrial complex that this could produce a few more jobs for American workers. Macron is happy to join as he can distract from strike action in his country and May has her Brexit and could demonstrate what a jolly good leader she is – and has another opportunity to show that she can rule without the parliament. One of her parliamentarian even tries even to make the case for not involving the parliament, that the parliamentarians only know half of what the government knows. Let me add, the government does not KNOW what it was really and who committed it. If knowledge is the the basis of action ( and it should be) the government should not act, but they are very prepared to risk killing people.
And while Assad is supported by Putin with Russian soldiers on Syrian ground any military action of the Western allies could lead to an escalation and the next world war. The conclusion is, any military option may risk Arab lifes, but not Russians. And this is for a higher moral cause.
Within UK, the public debate moves in hitting out at Corbyn and his followers who are rightly critical and hesitant. Parallels are drawn to WWII, Holocaust, etc and the UK-ambassador thinks that Karl Marx would turn in the grave if he had seen Putin’s policy. Can someone please tell her that the Soviet Union doesn’t exist anymore? It is worrying when politicians draw historic parallels as the world has usually moved on and rarely politicians draw the right conclusion from their narrative of their country’s history.
Supporters of a military strike argue that it requires a sign to show that a chemical attack is not acceptable, but they admit it won’t be possible to destroy the production of chemicals weapons fully or forever. Whether Assad really cares in the light of fully destroyed towns in his country is very doubtful. In one word, a strike bears a lot of risk and no prospect of a real gain. It sounds a little bit like Brexit, but is can be deadly dangerous.
This hopefully makes clear in what a complete and utter mess the three political leaders are – politically,morally and intellectually.
Are military actions inevitable? No. It it is a choice. The West does not have to react like this. The case and the tool set is what the West want it to be and I don’t mean that a chemical strike is acceptable and I also don’t mean that it is acceptable that there have been a war, especially such a devastating one in Syria for more than 7 years. Sending some missiles or throwing bombs just adds to the mayhem without any benefit. And let’s be realistic, there is no such a thing as the only truth and the only way to act. Chemical weapons have been used in the past post WW1, for example by Iraq when Iraq was a Western ally.
So, let’s think about another option. Let’s take this case and develop further the way we are dealing with war crimes:
What is needed is a more effectful system to isolate war criminals under which the International Court of Justice in Den Haag can issue an Arrest warrant.
An international task force should be created that would have the task to arrest war criminals in the event they don’t come to Den Haag voluntarily.
Even if those war criminals were still state leaders, the task force would have the right to seize those persons, or hijack them as the Mossad did it with Eichmann and then to deliver them to the Court in Den Haag. – or if they resist, to kill them like it happened to Bin Laden.
Such a new tool would be a game changer as politicians would be held responsible not only if they are out of power and could not hide behind diplomatic immunity. Even an Assad would care if he can’t be sure that any time a commando appears at night to get him like it happened to Bin Laden. They might build fortresses, but at some point they have to get out of their palaces.
An Iraq war could have been prevented as Hussein was already a war criminal before he invaded Kuwait.
Western leaders couldn’t make any deals with politicians like Hussein who are searched as war criminals. Those politician and soldiers searched by the International Court would be rather seen as terrorists and very quickly as consequence loose their power.
There would be two main conditions for this more – call it straightforward – approach: The arrest warrant by the International Court of Justice in Den Haag must be based on sufficient evidence to ensure the legitimacy of the action and the Court must act independently. No politician, no general, no matter for which country he acts, should be immune.
So, the conclusion is: Deal with this in a way for what it is: A crime.
Unrealistic? Not in the 21st century. It only needs a will to find an alternative to making war in order to stop risking the lives of innocent people.
[Image by alpinedon on Pixabay ]