Letter: Weighing Intervention in Syria

To the Editor:

Regarding Syria: Justice requires patience, and crime prevention requires decisiveness. Although Syria is not a signatory to the Chemical Weapons Convention, their use in that country is nonetheless a crime against humanity.

The commission of a crime against humanity calls for collection of evidence, identification, apprehension and indictment of suspects, a fair trial in an unbiased forum and — when the case is made beyond a reasonable doubt — a conviction, followed by punishment appropriate to the crime. This lengthy process is the job of the International Criminal Court in the Hague. The president of the United States should not attempt to be combined policeman, judge, jury and executioner in this case.

Prevention of a crime against humanity is a different matter. Anyone seeing a crime about to happen or in process must perform a calculation that factors in the success of intervention and the risks both to the victim and the person intervening. In the case of Syria, the president has indicated that three days is not different from three weeks to take an action. This raises doubt about whether the United States has a reasonable expectation of success in its intervention to prevent further use of chemical weapons. Our country has not found a way to prevent the slaughter of tens of thousands of innocent civilians to date.

We urge Congress to hold the president to a high standard in judging his chances of successfully preventing the further use of chemical weapons. We further urge Congress to leave the pursuit of justice to the International Criminal Court.

Stephen and Janet Flanders