U.S. Airstrikes on Syria Long Overdue, but Diplomacy Also Needed

Article ID: 672660

Released: 7-Apr-2017 1:05 PM EDT

Source Newsroom: Northwestern University

Expert Pitch

Galya Ben-Arieh

Galya Ben-Arieh is the director of the Center for Forced Migration Studies at Northwestern University. She can be reached at 847-491-3759 or g-ruffer@northwestern.edu.

Quote from Professor Ben-Arieh

“As Trump responds to Bashar al-Assad’s reprehensible chemical attack with military retaliation, we need to step up our responsibilities to protect innocent children and civilians who are victims of human rights violations by their own governments. The children who died in the chemical attacks are refugees ‘but for’ the fact that they were unable to cross an international boarder because states have made it impossible to do so.

“The missile attacks against the military airbase in Syria are just one piece of our responsibility to protect victims of persecution, and a military response has never been shown to work unless there is also commitment to abide by our responsibilities to protect those who were fortunate enough to flee. What the chemical attack in Syria should teach us is that closing national borders makes those within the country who could not flee more vulnerable. The administration needs to show leadership in the world by withdrawing the Executive Order from March 6, 2017, which suspends our refugee program, and commit to resettling the remaining 70,902 refugees as authorized by Congress for this fiscal year.”

Marina Henke

Marina Henke is an assistant professor of political science in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences at Northwestern. She specializes in international security cooperation, conflict resolution, peacekeeping, European Union security and defense policy, and Transatlantic cooperation. She can be reached at 847-467-4785 or marina.henke@northwestern.edu.

Quote from Professor Henke

“When it comes to military interventions, successive U.S. governments have made two critical mistakes on repeated occasions: (1) not planning for the aftermath and (2) not getting enough buy-in from the international community. It would be tragic, if President Trump repeated once more these mistakes in the case of Syria. Bombing Assad is not enough. America needs a plan that solves the Syrian conflict for good. Instead of unilateral surgical strikes, President Trump should take the bold initiative and broker a peace accord involving all major stakeholders.

 “It has happened before in ex-Yugoslavia -- to name just one example -- and it can happen again. America led a multilateral coalition and implemented a sustainable peace plan. Most European countries are fed up with the Syrian conflict and would support such a proposal if the Trump administration shows real concern and a sincere intent to cooperate.”

Wendy Pearlman

Wendy Pearlman is an associate professor of political science in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences at Northwestern and author of “We Crossed A Bridge and It Trembled: Voices from Syria,” a forthcoming book based on interviews with more than 300 Syrian refugees across the Middle East, Europe and the United States. She can be reached at mobile 857-222-8934 or pearlman@northwestern.edu.

Quote from Professor Pearlman

“The Assad regime has been slaughtering its citizens for more than six years and brutally oppressing any dissent for decades before that. Yesterday’s U.S. strike sent a long-overdue message that dictators cannot kill civilians with impunity. But much more must be done. The U.S. should work with international partners to halt Assad’s killing machine and bring about a genuine political transition. The Syrian regime has proven that it is willing to commit any monstrosity to stay in power.

“It will continue to do so unless pressured by genuine changes on the battlefield, serious diplomatic engagement or both. A one-off punitive strike is in no way a sufficient response to the magnitude of horror in Syria. As appalling as chemical weapons are, we cannot forget that the Assad regime has killed hundreds of thousands by other means, including torture, dropping barrels stuffed with explosives and starving entire communities into surrender.

“I join millions of Syrians in hoping that yesterday’s strike is a turning point toward ending this gruesome war, as well as the international apathy that has enabled it.”


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