4 Humanitarian Alternatives To American Military Action Against Syria

As discussed on The Rachel Maddow Show tonight, there are alternatives to American military strikes against the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria. While there are no options that will result in an immediate halt to human suffering in Syria, we know military action, particularly a strike designed to “send a message,” will only add to the human carnage. It will only result in more destruction, more death, more suffering. So let’s consider 4 alternatives to American military action in Syria.

1. Call out and then continue to put pressure on Syria’s allies and suppliers. In this case, we are largely talking about Russia, and according to Human Rights Watch, the most specific target should be Rosoboronexport, a state-owned arms trading company.

2. Economic sanctions against Syria. Arguably this is the least practical or desirable of the alternatives as there are already extensive sanctions and embargoes in place, which you can read about here. But even if there is more that can be done in this area, the pain of economic sanctions is usually felt by the innocent long before the guilty. But I offer this option here because it is nonetheless an alternative to military action.

3. America could offer to accept Syrian refugees, and we could lead on this issue by nudging our allies to do the same, as well as offer aid in the form of money, resources, food, and whatever else is needed to bring these victims of war some semblance of a normal life. We can spend money where it will truly aid the victims of Assad’s war crimes. This would be a much better use of money than using it towards more Neanderthal warfare.

4. And speaking of war crimes, we could try Bashar al-Assad and his henchmen for those war crimes in the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Syria: A Potent Alternative to Military Action (The Globalist) — As the typical Washington game of “manufacturing” consent unfolds, there has been little or no discussion in the United States of another potent action. This course of action has special appeal because it would have real and lasting consequences for the Assad family and its defenders. It would also be consequential enough to help deter future chemical weapon use.

This action is the indictment in the International Criminal Court (ICC) of Bashar Assad, his brother Maher (commander of the Republican Guard) and the identifiable senior military officers involved with Syrian chemical weapons use. The ICC is a permanent tribunal established in 2002 to prosecute individuals for genocide, crimes against humanity, as well as war crimes. It is empowered not only to convict and imprison, but also to obtain reparations from the convicted for their victims.

A conviction would allow seizure of Assad’s assets from foreign bank accounts, and travel by any indicted Assad associate or family member to signatory nations would result in immediate arrest. Sure, this action does not physically remove Assad from power, but it would serve to further isolate him, and it would offer a punitive economic measure (seizure of Assad family wealth) that does not directly impact the citizens of Syria.


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