Sunday, April 22, 2018

Strikes on Syria violate global norms

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The missile strikes on Syria by the US, Britain and France are a matter of real concern for the rest of the world. The impunity with which the strikes were launched bring into question the international order which is clearly in danger of becoming unraveled through such action by three powerful nations against a country which has been accused of deploying chemical weapons against its own citizens.

The problem for the global community here is two-fold. On the one hand, the constant reports in the western media of the chemical weapons being used against Syrians by the Bashar Assad regime have created a hype which has many in the West supporting the missile action against the regime in Damascus. On the other, there are the very valid questions of whether Washington, London and Paris were morally right to launch an attack on a country in violation of international rules which uphold the sovereignty of nations.

There are grave reasons to question the manner in which the missiles were launched against Syria, which has repeatedly denied any use of chemical weapons against its people. The Russians have condemned the action by the three western nations and called for an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council, which took place on Saturday.

The worry here is one which arises as a reminder of the manner in which UN weapons inspectors in Iraq were not permitted to finish their work in 2003 and the United States and Britain went into launching an attack on the country on the spurious ground of Baghdad's possessing weapons of mass destruction. Those WMDs were never found, for they had never been there. In the process, though, it was Iraq which was destroyed and has been in a mess ever since. The fear today is that like Iraq and Afghanistan and Libya, Syria could be headed for disorder because of the action by the three countries determined to punish President Assad over his ownership, as yet unverified, of chemical weapons.

These are sad moments we go through when sanity appears to be absent, especially among politicians in the West from whom we expect better. Again, there are deep worries which this missile attack on Syria has caused, the worries being grounds for fear that the powerful nations of the world today have arrogated to themselves the right to violate the sovereignty of other nations. The United Nations has been ignored, no meaningful steps have been taken to engage the Syrian government in negotiations over its alleged bad conduct and the warnings by Russia on the consequences of a strike on Syria have fallen on deaf ears.

Principles must matter in international affairs. When morality is tampered with, as in the latest instance of the missile strike on Syria, the global community must rise in protest everywhere. Governments around the world will be undermining themselves by keeping quiet over the attacks.

A red line must be drawn, to inform governments such as the ones which at present govern in Washington, London and Paris that they cannot with impunity interfere with the sovereignty of other nations and thereby open the floodgates to chaos even greater than that we have experienced in the last many years.

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