How not to stop the violence in Syria — Elie Wiesel’s latest bright idea
By Maidhc Ó Cathail
The Passionate Attachment
June 9, 2012
Touted on Twitter as a “must-read” by John McCain, Elie Wiesel had an op-ed in yesterday’s Washington Post titled “How to stop the Syria massacre.” Clearly distressed that the United States appears to be finally growing weary of fighting wars in Israel’s increasingly destabilized backyard, the prosperous Holocaust survivor lays on the guilt trip:
Military intervention? No. Why not? Because the American people are tired of waging distant wars. Because American families have lost too many sons and daughters in far-away conflicts. Should Syrian families suffer because of the help we have given others? Because of the sacrifices we have already made?
The warmongering Nobel Peace Prize laureate has another bright idea, however:
I am not sure that armed assistance is the only solution. Economic sanctions have proved to be relatively futile elsewhere. But why not imagine yet another option that might produce a dramatic effect?
Why not warn Assad that, unless he stops the murderous policy he is engaged in, he will be arrested and brought to the international criminal court in the Hague and charged with committing crimes against humanity?
Such a charge would have discouraging aspects. He would lose any support, any sympathy, in the world at large. No honorable person would come to his defense. No nation would offer him shelter. No statute of limitations would apply to his case.
If and when he realizes that, like Egypt’s dictator, Hosni Mubarak, he will end up in disgrace, locked in a prison cell, he might put an end to his senseless criminal struggle for survival.
Why not try it?
As Wiesel most likely knows from the efforts to “stop Gadhafi,” his humanitarian-sounding suggestion is almost guaranteed to have the opposite effect.
But American administrations should also know by now to be wary of his advice. All President Obama needs to do is to learn from the experience of his predecessor, George W. Bush:
In the winter of 2003, I sought opinions on Iraq from a variety of sources…. One of the most fascinating people I met with was Elie Wiesel, the author, Holocaust survivor, and deserving Nobel Prize recipient. Elie is a sober and gentle man. But there was passion in his seventy-four-year-old eyes when he compared Saddam Hussein’s brutality to the Nazi genocide. “Mr. President,” he said, “you have a moral obligation to act against evil.” The force of his conviction affected me deeply. Here was a man who had devoted his life to peace urging me to intervene in Iraq…