Thursday, September 12, 2013

Syria's False Choices and The International Criminal Court

(Syria/Wikimedia CIA)
Although the ground on the Syria crisis has started to shift, at this point we don't know how successful the Russian proposal for Syrian chemical weapons disarmament will be, neither what the response of President Obama and the Congress will be in case of failure. What we do know is how President Obama and his foreign policy team has framed the debate a few weeks ago. Now an intriguing article has been written by Hazel Henderson, well known as a sustainable economist, futurist and author of multiple books, specifically addressing the false dichotomy presented by President Obama and calling for a non-military and legally sound option of referring the perpetrators to the International Criminal Court (ICC.) In her article Averting Another U.S. Foreign Policy Disaster published in The Globalist, Hazel Henderson states:

"So far, the public debate in the United States on what to do about Syria has been largely limited to an almost childishly binary proposition: “Bomb Syria — or do nothing.” President Obama has taken a first step out of this box by correctly throwing the decision on Syria to the U.S. Congress, as required by the U.S. Constitution."

She then acknowledges that due to  Russia's initiative, President Obama has "now a way to put the military strike on hold. But should this initiative fail, there remains a strong possibility — given the grave doubts asserted by many, including military officers and other leaders — that Congress will answer President Obama’s request with a resounding “no” vote."

Henderson, then continues and calls for an alternative to the option of military action:

"Under those circumstances, President Obama’s best course of action is now to revert to his legal expertise, override the hawks around him and instead call for Bashar al-Assad and his brother Maher to be brought before the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague and indicted as war criminals.............

.....Rather than voting “no” to military strikes, they (i.e. U.S. Congress) could vote “yes” to referring the Syrian case to the ICC. Even if the UN Security Council continued blocking such a referral, the ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda has discretion to bring such an indictment herself."

Hazel Henderson ends with an impassioned plea for the U.S. to "change its tune"  and demonstrate that it is not only seeking to bring "democracy" around the world, but that it indeed has its own functioning democracy that doesn't resort to military "solutions" against the will of its people, Congress and the international community. I concur with the gist of this article, and frankly wondered from the beginning of this debate a few weeks ago, why the administration presented their case as "bomb Syria or do nothing", which reminded me of the equally simplistic words by former President George W. Bush "you're with us or against us" at the beginning of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars.
Let's hope that common sense and a vision for true solutions will prevail and start bringing not only a solution to this current political and diplomatic crisis, but will help to end the civil war in Syria..

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