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Editorial: Solely relying on force won’t bring peace

The airstrikes launched by the U.S., the U.K. and France against Syria constitute a use of force that lacks legitimacy. They carried out the punitive attack on the determination that the regime led by President Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons. But solely relying on force won’t bring peace to Syria. They must use diplomacy.  


The U.N. Charter bans the use of force against other countries in principle, except in cases when the UN Security Council adopts a resolution and when the right to self-defense is exercised.


But the three nations mounted the attack without presenting evidence of the use of chemical weapons or the UNSC adoption of a resolution.


As for the purpose of the airstrikes, U.S. President Donald Trump explained that “we need to establish a powerful deterrence against the manufacture, proliferation and use of chemical weapons and establishing deterrence is in the U.S.’s vital interest.”


The U.S. is not subject to direct attacks from Syria. Thus it makes little sense to interpret President Trump’s argument as the exercise of self-defense.


Not so long ago, President Trump said “we leave the rest to others” and mentioned the withdrawal of the U.S. forces from Syria.


The military intervention represented a rapid sea change. It left the impression that the action was taken offhand without a solid vision for the end to the civil war. A year ago, the U.S. mounted similar airstrikes on the grounds that Syria used chemical weapons.


It is conjectured that the latest attacks are probably intended as a warning to North Korea. But there is even the view that President Trump may have come to feel he would like to use military force. 


To establish peace in Syria, the U.S. needs to engage tenaciously, not act on impulse.


Syrian President Assad, on his part, lacks legitimacy, as he continues to slaughter Syrians. Russia and Iran, which back him, should be held responsible too.


In 2013, Russia got the Assad regime to promise to abandon chemical weapons when the former Obama administration was prepared to attack Syria. But Russia is at odds with the U.S. and Europe over UNSC debate on Syria.


The Islamic State, the common enemy of all the parties in Syria, has been nearly exterminated, but now those parties are engaged in fighting along jumbled lines as the Syrian civil war enters its eighth year. 


According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a U.K-based non-government organization, over 500,000 people have been killed. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees estimates that 5.6 million people fled the country and 6.1 million are internally displaced.


The confrontation between the U.S. and Russia casts a dark shadow that has prolonged the civil war. The two superpowers must realize the need and their responsibility to address it. 

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