There are no good options left in Syria. The recent chemical attack in Douma and the response by the United States, United Kingdom, and France to that attack highlighted this point. The attack by the three Western powers raised many questions. In the United States, we are rightly debating the legality of the use of force in Syria without congressional approval. We are also debating the goals of such action, both what they are and what they should be. Read more at LobeLog
President Obama shocked many with his announcement that, despite the fact that he had decided to strike Syria, he was going to seek authorization from Congress. At LobeLog, I examine some of the implications for US politics and foreign policy, as well as the immediate meaning for an attack on Syria.
My latest piece at LobeLog, where I frequently write on US foreign policy, examines the inadequacy of the current system of international law. It has gotten so ineffective that it is now more hindrance than help. Syria shines a spotlight on the problems.
I continue to believe that Obama correctly does not want to escalate US involvement in Syria. But the geo-politics are robbing him of options very quickly. I explore at LobeLog.
While all eyes are on Obama as he walks the tightrope between his foolishly drawn “red line” and the lack of good options for intervention in Syria, it’s worth examining the predicament Israel finds itself in with regard to the ongoing Syrian civil war. I do so at LobeLog today.
According to reports on Syrian television, 23 people were killed along the border with Israel as they tried to go across the border with Israel.
The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) disputed the numberand the circumstances.
Considering the sources of both the accusation and the denial, both highly dubious with long track records of dissembling, I’m keeping my mind open on this. But there are some very important points to be made about the violent confrontations on the northern border.
Let’s start with this: Uri Avnery was right when he said the IDF used disproportionate force. The IDF itself said all the injuries were on the Syrian side of the border—this is why they say they cannot confirm any casualties. The IDF also says they shot live fire at the legs of protesters heading toward the border fence, but still on the Syrian side. Hard to see how that can be called proportionate force. And at least one witness, a journalist, said that the Israelis are understating the severity of their response.
Let’s also be clear about another point: Israel is not defending its borders here. The Golan Heights, which is the area Israel is defending in these incidents, is occupied territory, internationally recognized as Syrian. Unlike the West Bank, which is claimed by the Palestinians but was not previously part of any sovereign state (it was occupied by Jordan from 1949-1967 and part of Mandatory Palestine before that), the Golan is Syrian, and Israel’s annexation of it in 1981 is illegal and recognized by no other country, including the United States.
So, Israel is not defending its borders here, but is defending its occupation. And herein lies the problem, because what is happening on the Syrian border, though certainly heartfelt and significant, is counter-productive for the Palestinians. Continue reading