Aug 30 2013

The Ethics of Action vs. Inaction, International Law, and Public Opinion on US War with Syria

Feature Stories | Published 30 Aug 2013, 9:59 am | Comments Off on The Ethics of Action vs. Inaction, International Law, and Public Opinion on US War with Syria -

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As President Obama’s administration makes the case to for a limited military air campaign against Syria, the British parliament voted yesterday against British involvement in a Syria military campaign. Despite a new poll showing overwhelming public opposition to air strikes in the US, members of Congress have been pressuring the Obama administration for months to take military action, and now Obama is closer than ever to doing so.

Even though UN inspectors are on the ground conducting an investigation into an alleged chemical weapons attack that killed upwards of 300 people and are not expected to deliver their report until the weekend, US and British intelligence sources are adamantly confident that the responsibility for the attack lies with the Syrian government.

Apprehensive of comparisons with the Iraq war, President Obama is quick to maintain that a Syrian operation would be very limited. However, the push for war, like the Iraq debacle, seems likely to circumvent international law such as UN authorization. Even Congressional authorization, if it is sought, appears unlikely. Instead comparisons with US military interventions in Kosovo in the 1990s, and the more recent attacks on Libya are being invoked as precedents and justification.

There is no foreseeable simple solution to the on-going civil war in Syria, neither is the guilt of the Syrian regime in question. But, in addition to the international and national legal justifications for war and the urgency of quelling a humanitarian disaster, the important questions at stake include: what is the US’s end goal in bombing Syria? Wouldn’t air strikes inevitably kill innocent civilians? And, could the air strikes spark a regional war drawing in Russia, Iran, Turkey, and other nations?

GUEST: Ramah Kudaimi is a Syrian-American activist based in Washington DC. She has a Masters in Conflict Resolution from Georgetown University

Click here to read Ramah Kudaimi’s article about Syria.

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