[News] Syria: the Case for Peace - Former UN Officials

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Thu Sep 5 12:40:25 EDT 2013

September 05, 2013

*An Open Letter*

  Syria: the Case for Peace

by Former UN Officials

/This appeal against precipitous military strikes against the Syrian 
regime of Bashar al-Assad is signed by several former high-ranking 
officials of the United Nations, UNESCO, UNICEF and the International 
Labour Organsiation. "People who accuse the Security Council of inaction 
should remember how Western powers abused a Security Council resolution 
to stage a full-fledged attack on Libya in order to perform 'regime 
change' in that country -- this is what motivates Russia and China's 
opposition to any Security Council motion that may lead to intervention 
in Syria," they argue./


The drums of war are beating once more in the Middle East, this time 
with the possibility of an imminent attack on Syria, after the alleged 
use of chemical weapons by its government. It is precisely in times of 
crisis such as now that the case for peace can be made in the clearest 
and most obvious manner.

First of all, we have no proof that the Syrian government has used 
chemical weapons. Even if proofs were provided by Western governments, 
we have to remain skeptical, remembering the Tonkin Gulf incident and 
the Vietnam war, the incubator baby massacre in Kuwait and the first 
Gulf war, the Racak massacre and the Kosovo war, the Iraqi weapons of 
mass destruction and the second Gulf war, the threat of massacre in 
Benghazi and the Libyan war. All these justifications for previous wars 
were fabricated or dubious. We may also notice that evidence for the use 
of chemical weapons was provided to the U.S. by Israeli intelligence 
which is not exactly a neutral actor.

Even if, this time, proofs were genuine, it would not legitimate 
unilateral action from anyone. That still needs an authorization of the 
Security Council. People who accuse the Security Council of inaction 
should remember how Western powers abused a Security Council resolution 
to stage a full-fledged attack on Libya in order to perform "regime 
change" in that country --- this is what motivates Russiaand China's 
opposition to any Security Council motion that may lead to intervention 
in Syria.

What is called in the West the "international community" willing to 
attack Syria is reduced to essentially/two/ major countries (US and 
France), out of almost two hundred in the world. No respect for 
international law is possible without respect for the decent opinions of 
the rest of mankind.

Even if a military action was allowed and carried on, what could it 
accomplish? Nobody can seriously control chemical weapons without 
putting "boots on the grounds", which is not considered by anyone a 
realistic option after the disasters of Iraq and Afghanistan. The West 
has no real ally in Syria. The jihadists fighting the government have no 
more love for the West than those who assassinated the U.S. Ambassador 
in Libya. It is one thing to take money and weapons from some country, 
but quite another to be its genuine ally.

There have been offers of negotiations coming from the Syrian, Iranian 
and Russian governments, which have been treated with contempt by the 
West. People who say "we cannot talk or negotiate with Assad" forget 
that this has been said about the National Liberation Front in Algeria, 
Ho Chi Minh, Mao, the Soviet Union, the PLO, the IRA, the ETA, Mandela 
and the ANC, and many guerillas inLatin America. The issue is not 
whether one talks to the other side, but after how many unnecessary 
deaths one accepts to do so.

The time when the U.S. and its few remaining allies acted as global 
policemen and national sovereignty was considered passé is actually 
behind us. The world becomes more multipolar, not less, and the people 
of the world want more sovereignty not less. The greatest social 
transformation of the twentieth century has been decolonization and the 
West should adapt itself to the fact that it has neither the right, nor 
the competence, nor the means to rule the world.

There is no place where the strategy of permanent wars has failed more 
miserably than the Middle East, starting with the creation of Israel and 
the fateful decision to refuse the right of return to the Palestinian 
refugees. Then came the overthrow of Mossadegh in Iran, the Suez canal 
adventure, the many Israeli wars, the two Gulf wars, combined with the 
murderous sanctions against Iraq, the constant threats against Iran and 
now the war in Syria.

True courage does not consist in launching cruise missiles once more 
but  in breaking radically with that deadly logic: force Israel to 
negotiate in good faith with the Palestinians, convene the Geneva II 
conference on Syria and discuss with the Iranian their nuclear program 
by taking honestly into account the legitimate security and economic 
interests of that country.

The recent vote against the war in the British Parliament, as well as 
reactions on social media, reflects a massive shift of public opinion in 
the West. We are getting tired of wars, and ready to join the real 
international community in demanding a world based on the U.N. Charter, 
demilitarization, respect for national sovereignty and equality of all 

The people of the West also demand to exercise their right of 
self-determination: if wars have to be made, they have to be based on 
open debates and direct concerns for our national security and not on 
some ill-defined and easily manipulable notion of "right to intervene".

It remains to force our politicians to respect that right.

*Dr. Hans Christof von Sponeck*, UN Assistant Secretary General and 
United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq (1998 -2000)

*Dr. Denis J. Halliday*, UN Assistant Secretary General (1994-1998)

*Dr. Saïd Zulficar*, UNESCO official (1967-1996). Director of 
Operational Activities, Division of Cultural Heritage (1992 -1996)

*Dr. Samir Radwan*, Adviser on Development Policies to the 
Director-General of ILO (2001-2003). Egyptian Finance Minister 
(January-July 2011).

*Dr. Samir Basta,* Director of UNICEF's Regional Office 
for Europe (1990-1995). Director of UNICEF's Evaluation Office (1985-1990)

*Miguel d´Escoto Brockmann*, President of the UN General Assembly 
(2008-2009). Nicaraguan Foreign Minister (1979-1990).

*José L. Gómez del Prado*, Former Senior Officer at the Office of the 
High Commissioner for Human Rights, Member of the UN Working Group on 
the use of mercenaries (2005-2011).

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