Yes, there must be consequences for those who ordered the chemical weapons massacre in Syria, but this is not an argument for military strikes. Robust options are available for mobilizing international pressure against the Assad regime and seeking an end to the killing. The United States should:
Provide the evidence
- Give a detailed report to the UN Security Council and the world media of the evidence it claims to possess identifying the Syrian political and military leaders responsible for the chemical attacks; clarify the inconsistencies in the information that has been presented to date,
- Support continued and more thorough investigation by UN inspectors to develop further evidence of precisely what happened and who was responsible for the massacre.
Apply international pressure
- Seek approval of resolutions at the UN Security Council, the Arab League and other international bodies condemning the chemical massacre as a war crime and a crime against humanity,
- Urge the UN Security Council to impose targeted sanctions against those who are found to be responsible for the massacre,
- Urge the Security Council to refer the Syrian chemical attacks to the International Criminal Court with an expedited mandate for gaining further criminal evidence and issuing indictments against those responsible,
- Apply additional U.S. sanctions against the Assad regime, cancelling all business dealings and barring from U.S. markets any governments or firms that enable or finance Syrian government atrocities,
- Work with European governments and other countries to urge the imposition of similar sanctions.
Pursue diplomatic options
- Engage with Russia and Iran to seek their support in a coordinated strategy to take international legal action against those responsible for the chemical massacre and to encourage a negotiated end to the Syrian civil war,
- Renew and intensify pressure on the Syrian government and rebel forces to participate in the proposed Geneva II peace negotiations, toward the goal of reaching a ceasefire and agreement for dividing power in Syria,
- Increase humanitarian aid to provide support for the growing number of refugees from Syria.