I have no doubt that Assad’s regime is a rogue state and that the world community needs to address his war crimes, but the US is in particularly bad position to intervene. Allow me to give a little background.
The International Court of Justice (ICJ) is the primary judicial branch of the United Nations. In 1984 the ICJ ruled that the US had violated international law in its covert war against Nicaragua by mining harbors and intervening in the affairs of a sovereign state. In 1986 the US renounced the jurisdiction of the World Court and, thereby, international law. In other words, we declared ourselves to be a rogue state.
The International Criminal Court is a world tribunal founded to prosecute individuals for genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and crimes of aggression. The US has signed the declaration but never submitted it for ratification. So, whereas recognizing that court would give the US the power to try Assad for his alleged murder of 100,000 people, it would also expose American politicians like Bill Clinton who is accused by some of killing at least five times that many during the embargo of Iraq. It is said some of our former leaders like Henry Kissinger do not travel to nations they know might charge them with war crimes. How can a nation that views itself as above the law, bring another nation to justice?
Few would argue against the proposition that, if Assad used chemical weapons, he should be brought to justice, but why would we not wait for the UN to finish its investigation to know for sure who did the crime? Is it not strange to punish an infraction of international law with a vigilante action?
Chemical weapons are an abomination, but how can we know that the US will not bomb that nation with the same immoral weapons, like depleted uranium, that is still causing birth defects in Iraq? One study showed that Fallujah in Iraq has “the highest rate of genetic damage in any population ever studied.” Or will we use our cluster bombs that are still blowing of the limbs of children decades after wars end? Our leadership assures us that only weapons will be destroyed, but will they also promise not to use the kinds of immoral weapons we have used elsewhere that injure people after the fact?
I am not arguing that Assad should not be brought to justice, I’m just suggesting that it be done by nations who know what the word means. One rogue state is in no position to bring another to international standards. When our nation, itself, submits to international law, then we can preach to other nations. Until then, we should leave the matter of enforcing international law to those who obey it.