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Editorial: Attack on Syria is irresponsible use of force

  • April 15, 2018
  • , Asahi , p. 8
  • JMH Translation

The attack on Syria constitutes irresponsible use of force without any vision for resolving the crisis. The major powers’ action may further aggravate the chaos resulting from the prolonged civil war.


The use of chemical weapons is definitely an unforgivable crime. However, the U.S., the UK, and France went ahead with the attack without presenting any evidence or obtaining the consent of the UN Security Council (UNSC). The legitimacy of their action is questionable under international law.


In the first place, this action was not based on a diplomatic strategy for ending the hostilities in Syria. It was a one-time “punishment” targeting specific weapons without the goal of ending the bloodshed or restoring order.


The Trump administration also launched airstrikes because of chemical weapons a year ago, but the situation has not improved at all and the civil war has continued. Casualties continue to increase among the people.


The latest attack was apparently twice as extensive as last year’s attack, but the Assad regime is unlikely to stop the fighting as a result. In fact, conflict between its backer, Russia, and the U.S., the UK, and France has become irreparable, rendering peace even more unlikely for Syria.


The U.S., the UK, and France, which launched the attack, must realize that they bear grave responsibility for building peace. If they return to their indifferent attitude toward the situation in Syria, they will certainly be accused of opportunism.


Meanwhile, the Russian government protested this action, warning that, “Such actions will not be left without consequences.” However, Russia is the one providing military assistance to the Assad regime and there is indeed valid reason for the international community’s criticism of Russia.


In UN deliberations, Russia is also obstructing an impartial investigation. It is obvious that it wants to expand its influence in the Middle East through the Assad regime and maintain its military bases there.


If it continues to behave in an egoistic way as a major power, the international community will naturally be increasingly wary of Russia. It should refrain from taking retaliatory action against the U.S. and others and exercise restraint.


Tension between the U.S. and Russia is casting a dark shadow not only in Syria, but also on the Korean Peninsula, Ukraine, Iran, and other regional issues. The selfishness of these two countries is causing concerns about the advent of a Cold War-like era.


The leaders of the concerned nations must not be narrow-minded because the devastation of failed states and regions such as Syria will bring about global problems such as refugees and terrorism.


Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has indicated his “understanding” of the use of force on Syria. It is inappropriate for him to simply affirm this act ex post facto. He should urge Trump to make serious efforts for the stability of the Middle East at the Japan-U.S. summit this week. (Slightly abridged)

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  • G7 Summit
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