Syria today. What to do?
by Ernesto Kahan
Catherine Thomasson, MD, the Executive Director of Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) of the USA, in a letter dated September 5, 2013 wrote “The use of chemical weapons, like any weapon of mass destruction, needs a strong response. However, the use of military force in Syria is not the answer” and added that “International action against a war criminal should be united and targeted; and justice for President Assad and his military should be delivered in the International Criminal Court.” This policy was based on the paper OP-ED: Defining Appropriate Action in Syria.
The Syrian present civil war is terrible, producing until now at least more than 110,000 killed, two million refugees, and seven millions of people in need of urgent humanitarian help. The use of chemical weapons that are forbidden genocidal weaponry, killing more than a thousand civilians, among them hundreds of innocent children, has provoked the reaction of everybody who cannot see such a crime without protesting. Even more, the existence of these arsenals is an evident threat to many countries in the Middle East that are in conflict with the actual Syrian regime or with terrorist groups that can access to these weapons. Thus, it is obvious that actions must be taken in order to stop the killing, remove the chemical weapons, and to put the criminals under trial.
These three issues cannot wait for a large trial at the International Criminal Court. On the other side, a military intervention with the use of force will also be a bloody involvement that will produce more suffering and killing of innocent people and can help militias formed by fundamentalist terrorist groups.
For me, it is clear that an urgent, political, non violent agreement should be the most accepted solution. The problem is, which are the parties that are for such an agreement? Since the last experiences, the UN is in a paralytic impasse, I suggest calling for an urgent meeting of the so-called quartet (UN, USA, Russia and the EU). The first issue will be the complete removal and elimination of chemical weapons.
I do not support unilateral military actions.
Ernesto Kahan, MD, is Professor Emeritus, Tel Aviv University, Israel; a former regional vice president of IPPNW; and the current president of IPPNW-Israel. He is a poet and cultural ambassador with many global affiliations. The above article is his personal opinion.