Syria: Global Neighbourhood Watch failing


Neighbourhood_WatchUnited States president Barack Obama is facing a tough battle in Washington as he tries to sell his plan to engage in a military action in Syria – actually not in Syria, but at Syria as he has made it abundantly clear there will be no boots – US troops –  on the ground. Obama shouldn’t be too surprised that he has to fight this in congress; he’s had to do it with virtually every initiative during his mandates.

With most countries, including Canada and Great Britain, opting not to become involved in Syria’s internal problems the focus has been on Obama. But what if he’s right, and all the others are wrong?

If there is irrefutable proof that chemical weapons have been used in Syria. regardless of whether it was the state or the so-called rebels using it, someone has to do something to stop it. The Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) has been ratified by 165 countries. That’s a lot of countries that have agreed that the use of chemical weapons must not be tolerated. So where are those counties now? Why is it just the US that appears to be concerned with upholding the convention – although Obama is sharp enough not to mention the convention lest US citizens suggest an outside entity is calling the shots, a thought they abhor ?

If you signed the CWC, then this is one of those situations where if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem

Let’s say the US congress votes down Obama’s plan for a military strike on Syria and chemical weapons are used again – regardless of who uses them on whom. None of the 165 convention ratifying countries would do anything. What is the point of having and maintaining a convention if, when the chips are down, no signatory wants anything to do with enforcing it. Is the US the world’s police force?

It strikes me that this is tantamount to having a Neighbourhood Watch group on your block, attending the periodic meetings to discuss the threats facing all neighbours but when seeing an actual robbery in progress, turning the other way and not getting involved (by which I mean not calling the police as opposed to becoming physically involved).

What is the point of having and maintaining a convention if, when the chips are down, no signatory wants anything to do with enforcing it.

It’s one thing to sign an agreement stating one is against something; but quite another to actually step up and do something about it. All 165 signatories to the CWC should be doing more than just shrugging and saying Syria’s problem is Syria’s business. I’m certainly not suggesting all-out warfare be considered, but looking the other way won’t help and may well hinder. If you signed the CWC, then this is one of those situations where if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.

Logo_3DCMontreal is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that. a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and Freans and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DC on Twitter @DCMontreal and on Facebook, and add him on Google+
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