Readers Write: (Sept. 5): Syria, studies abroad, local schools

  • Updated: September 4, 2013 - 7:17 PM

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The U.N. role, framing the issue, the realities

The United Nations has warned the United States that “punitive” action taken against Syria would be illegal without Security Council approval.

Due to the complexity of international law, the legality of an attack without U.N. approval is up for debate. Regardless of the legality, the willingness of the Obama administration to go into Syria alone shows how highly ineffective the U.N. is when responding to human-rights abuses caused by government actors.

The reason for such innateness is the destructive veto power possessed by each of the five permanent members of the Security Council. The United States will not receive U.N. approval or military support because Russia and China have made it clear they would use their veto power to prevent any type of intervention. Theoretically, every member could vote for intervening and it would take just one veto to derail any action.

While the veto should not be completely revoked, limiting its power is necessary so the U.N. to be more effective in responding to human-rights abuses. For example, the U.N. should adopt a veto override procedure similar to ours (i.e., requiring two-thirds of member nations to override). This suggestion would not go over well with Security Council members — including the United States. Without any type of reform, however, the veto power will continue to force the U.N. to sit on the sidelines and watch human atrocities being carried out.


• • •

How we frame an issue often seeds a logical or at least reasonable conclusion, so I hope Congress demands to see the Syria issue framed in the following ways:

• The U.S. long-term strategy relative to our worldwide commitments.

• Long-term peace in the world.

• Long-term peace in the region.

• Lowest loss of life over the next five to 10 years.

• Lowest loss of life in the next 12 months.

• Prevention of the spread of weapons of mass destruction.

• Justice for war criminals.

In my view, the U.S. long-term strategy relative to our worldwide commitments creates context for all of the other analyses. The overlap in strategy and tactics that emerge from each of these vantage points is where our answer probably comes from.


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