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September 03, 2013


Ian Butterfield

It's difficult to see how the Syrian situation can be addressed in the context of international law because you have two permanent UN Security Council members - Russia and China - who view this as a domestic rather than international issue.

They have both, in the past, murdered millions of their own people and probably are willing to do so again if fundamental political change threatens and they do not want other nations having any right to criticize or interfere. Consequently, any UN attempt to follow up on Ban Ki-moon's words will simply be vetoed by one or both of them in the name of "national sovereignty" - translated into the English, the right of a government to kill large numbers of its own people absent external interference.

Even if Putin retreats, the Chinese never will - they will not even admit that Tiananmen happened.

I find the much more interesting question to be what we think these air strikes are going to achieve, if anything. They worked in Kosovo/Serbia because Serbs live on the grid and quickly lost their warlike feelings when they were made to sit in the cold and dark with no TV. No such situation pertains in Syria.

Strikes might have served to swing the balance of power in the civil war if they had taken place before Hezbollah etc. arrived on the scene but Obama procrastinated and the moment passed, as he intended it should.

Now I cannot find anyone who can make any sort of argument that US air strikes actually will achieve anything other than demonstrate that the US is peeved. If bombing is not going to do anything useful, why do it?

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