December 13, 2005

Syria Tipping the Wrong Way

Carroll Andrew Morse

The Grape’s Vine (based in North Providence) has a good summary of the most recent events following from likely Syrian involvement in the car-bomb assassination of a Lebanese opposition leader…

The second report issued by German prosecutor Detlev Mehlis detailing his investigation into the assassination of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri further implicated Syria in the assassination plot. Adding to the seriousness of the mounting case against Syria, Mehlis found strong evidence of witness tampering and the destruction of key evidence on Syria's part….

Based on mounting evidence against Syria, the US is pushing for UN sanctions against the rogue state. As it did last time, however, France is once again waffling on any inclusion of the threat of sanctions in a UN resolution. France agrees with pushing forward another resolution against Syria, however it is still holding out against wording that would actually give that resolution some teeth. The French version of the revolution accuses Syria of not "providing full and unconditional cooperation" however it stops short of punishing them for their failure to fully cooperate.

In a TechCentralStation column from about a month ago, I predicted that events concerning Syria could drift in two different directions. Unfortunately, the worst case seems to be emerging…
And in the worst case? The liberal internationalists succumb to their own worst tradition. Instead of leading, they follow the lead of the visceral anti-Bush partisans and join tortured arguments that at best ignore, and at worst justify, state-sponsored political assassination. Sensing a divided America, the UN is never compelled to move beyond approving resolutions that do nothing more than threaten other resolutions...
I think we're in an "ignore" phase right now.

Syria’s government-sponsored, cross border assassination of a neighboring political leader -- an act of war by any reasonable standard -- is a case where those who believe in international law should be not just hoping for, but demanding meaningful, collective institutional action. But liberal internationalists too frequently disappear when enforcing international norms means taking action against a rogue regime.

Why is it that liberal internationalists and their fellow travellers make a big deal of obeying international laws and norms when it would stop the United States from doing something, yet ignore international law when it could be used to deter dictators from expanding their power by violent means?