Perspectives on Syria

Author: Jessica Baron

Two members of the Reilly Center advisory board as well as two members of our Emerging Technologies of National Security and Intelligence (ETNSI) initiative have appeared in the news over the last few weeks to discuss recent events and U.S. policy in Syria.

Syrian man from USAID

Advisory board members USAF Col. (Ret.) John A. Warden III, the strategic architect of the U.S. air campaign in Gulf War I, and Patrick McCloskey, author of The Street Stops Here: A Year at a Catholic High School in Harlem, have just published an op-ed on Forbes.com entitled “Why President Obama Must Avoid 'Obamolly' In Syria.” Warden and McCloskey discuss the need for a strategic plan in Syria and suggest that “Without a direct, imminent threat to national security or American interests, the default position on war should be: Do nothing.” They argue: “In Obama’s proposal, rewards appear minimal, while strategic risks are daunting and operational costs could skyrocket.” 
 

David Cortright

David Cortright , ETNSI member and Director of Policy Studies at Notre Dame's Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, has been blogging about Syria at davidcortright.net/. In his latest post “There Are Alternatives,” he says the Obama administration should mobilize international pressure against the Assad regime, and urge the Security Council to refer the Syrian chemical attacks to the International Criminal Court in order to negotiate a peaceful end to the war in Syria.

When Cortright was interviewed recently by the National Catholic Reporter, he made the case that "Under international law, it's unmistakably clear that when self-defense is not at stake, the proper authority to act is the U.N. Security Council." 

Mary Ellen O'Connell


Mary Ellen O’Connell, the Robert and Marion Short Professor of Law, Research Professor of International Dispute Resolution at Notre Dame, and another prominent member of our ETNSI initiative, has been featured in various news outlets over the last few weeks in discussions potential US intervention in Syria. She has been interviewed by The Wall Street Journal, Huffington Post, Christian Science Monitor, and McClatchy News Service and has authored pieces for both the New York Times and CNN.com.

In her most recent piece on CNN.com, O’Connell argues that:

Obama is right to speak against chemical weapons use in the most categorical of terms. But the use of chemical weapons is banned by international law. Responding by violating the international law ban on resorting to force will only undermine America's standing to condemn the crimes of others. Washington officials should put their prodigious talents and resources to use finding a lawful and effective way to respond to chemical weapons use in Syria and to aid in ending a tragic war without creating more tragedy.

To learn more about the Reilly Center’s ETNSI initiative or to get in contact with an expert in national security and weapons ethics, see our ETNSI initiative page.