Strikes on Syria: Turning Criminals into Victims?

Among the many negative consequences of the proposed American military intervention in Syria is the diversion of attention away from the crimes committed by Syrian military forces toward the actions being planned by the United States. The world’s television screens are filled with images of the debate about an American strike, not the consequences of the chemical massacre committed by the Syrian army. The main story line is the military action planned by Obama – not the crimes committed by Assad.

The bombing of Syria risks turning Assad and his supporters into victims rather than perpetrators. As the missiles strike, media images will show civilians killed by American weapons rather than those who died in the chemical attacks. The focus will be on U.S. policy rather than the continuing crimes of the Assad regime.

It doesn’t have to be that way. Obama and his advisers still have time to turn away from their ill-advised military plan toward a more effective multilateral strategy that would have broad international support. The alternative approach I have proposed would apply pressure against those responsible for the chemical attacks while intensifying diplomatic efforts to end the war. It would focus attention where it belongs, on prohibiting chemical weapons and ending the war, rather than on American military intervention.

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