The hunt for evidence of the use of chemical weapons in Syria is a red herring and shouldn’t be the focus of the international community’s (minus Assad’s apologists in Moscow and Tehran) efforts to stop the Assad regime’s relentless campaign of bloodshed against its own people.
Irrespective of the good intentions of UN Secretary general Ban Ki Moon, President Obama and French Minister of Foreign Affairs Laurent Fabius, the search for proof of a likely use of sarin, nerve, or other deadly gases on a huge number of innocent civilians (between 136 to 1300) outside of the Syrian capital Damascus in a town called Ghouta, will be near impossible under the circumstances. Besides, it wouldn’t make the case against the President of Syria, Bashar (“the butcher) El Assad, and his cronies any more credible. In the minds of many international criminal law experts, that case is already open and shut.
Setting aside the question of whether Assad has violated the universal taboo among states with respect to using chemical weapons against his foes (a category that apparently includes women and children!!!!), there is already sufficient proof based of eyewitness accounts of survivors of his atrocities and enough documentation of his crimes collected by impartial international observers, since the beginning of the civil war in Syria in 2011, to indict Assad and his generals for their part in the brutality. And yes I am aware of crimes being committed by rebels forces in Syria. They too will have to be held to account for their crimes, at the end of the day.
With the chances of some sort of robust humanitarian intervention, along the lines of what NATO did to fellow glorified thug Colonel Muammer Gadhaffi, looking increasingly slim, and seemingly every military analyst in the world insisting that there are no good options in Syria, it might be time to explore alternatives to the use of force. Moving the U.S. Navy’s 6th Fleet into range for possible air strikes against the Syrian military, may have some deterrent value.
While I realize that an International Criminal Court investigation and possible future prosecution of war criminals in Syria will be at best a moral victory, at worst an empty threat and futile attempt to bring an end to daily murders, tortures and disappearances, there is something to be said for what the head of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay is suggesting about referring the case to the ICC for them to take all necessary legal measures against the Assad regime.
This will, of course, never give the murderers who rule Syria sleepless nights, but it just might shame those who, like Russia, continue to defend their legitimacy, into abandoning their allies in Syria or at least keeping their mouths shut when the matter next comes before the UN Security Council for discussion.