Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Jeffrey Sachs on Syria

Here. Quote:

Then and now, the US has claimed to speak in the interest of the Syrian people. This is very doubtful. The US views Syria mainly through the lens of Iran, seeking to depose Assad in order to deprive Iran’s leaders of an important ally in the region, one that borders Israel. The US-led effort in Syria is thus best understood as a proxy war with Iran – a cynical strategy that has contributed to the massive rise in violence.

The US should reverse course. A direct US attack on Syria without UN backing is far more likely to inflame the region than it is to resolve the crisis there – a point well appreciated in the United Kingdom, where Parliament bucked the government by rejecting British participation in a military strike.

Instead, the US should provide evidence of the chemical attacks to the UN; call on the Security Council to condemn the perpetrators; and refer such violations to the International Criminal Court. Moreover, the Obama administration should try to work with Russia and China to enforce the Chemical Weapons Convention. If the US fails in this, while acting diplomatically and transparently (without a unilateral attack), Russia and China would find themselves globally isolated on this important issue.

More broadly, the US should stop using countries like Syria as proxies against Iran. Withdrawal of US financial and logistical support for the rebellion, and calling on others to do the same, would not address Syria’s authoritarianism or resolve America’s issues with Iran, but it would stop or greatly reduce the large-scale killing and destruction in Syria itself.
It would also enable the UN peace process to resume, this time with the US and Russia working together to restrain violence, keep Al Qaeda at bay (a shared interest), and find a longer-term pragmatic solution to Syria’s deep domestic divisions. And the search for a US modus vivendi with Iran – where a new president suggests a change of course on foreign policy – could be revived.
It is time for the US to help stop the killing in Syria. That means abandoning the fantasy that it can or should determine who rules in the Middle East.