By Charlotte Joy Martin
Although we deplore the mounting deaths on all sides of the Syrian conflict, and the use of chemical weapons, we firmly believe that the United States helps no one by a military strike and should remain committed instead to diplomatic and humanitarian efforts in Syria.
American intervention should be non-violent and geared toward extinguishing rather than adding to the horrific extent of killing and destroying. As Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Martin Dempsey has stated, the way to move forward is not military force: Costs and risks of unintended consequences dramatically outweigh possible benefits. Instead, the U.S. must engage all relevant stakeholders who have potential leverage with Syria’s president — and not least those stakeholders include Iran, Hezbollah, Lebanon, the Arab League and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.
The U.S. should convene an emergency summit of regional heads of state, including Iran, Jordan and Turkey, joined by the United States, France, Russia and the United Kingdom, to negotiate a way forward that can end the bloodletting, gain unrestricted humanitarian access, and forge steps for a negotiated political settlement.
The U.S. must lead new efforts to restrict the flow of weapons to all parties of the conflict. Cutting off military supplies could significantly slow the killing. And again, less killing, less destruction — not more — is what Syrians need.
We must press the United Nations Security Council to ask the International Criminal Court to investigate war crimes in Syria. Arresting war criminals costs less than any form of intervention. Once indicted, actors such as Assad can be arrested if they travel elsewhere, a prospect that decreases pressure we would feel to intervene violently and broadens diplomatic options.
And we certainly must increase and better allocate humanitarian funds to address refugee flows within Syria and into neighboring Iraq, Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon, whose resources are so stressed.
War is no solution and no help. The human race needs nations such as the U.S. to help lead the world out of the ridiculous logic that says humanity needs “good guys” to go on killing sprees that show the world how “bad guys” (who go on killing sprees) don’t deserve to live.
Too much is at stake here. Expenditures that we can scarcely afford anyway should obviously be the kind that will (and will at much smaller cost!) decrease and not increase the numbers of widows and widowers burying their spouses, orphans burying their parents, and parents burying their children.
We must lead toward a new hope for our war-ravaged world and not do the eternal return of killing to oppose killing.
Charlotte Joy Martin of Cedar Rapids is chair of Workers for Peace Iowa. Comments: email@example.com