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Pros and cons of engaging Syria´s Assad Government, by intelectual Jacques Attali.

Article published in LinkedIn, last

Middle East Security News, Jacques Attali, Président chez Attali et Associés

Middle East Security News, Jacques Attali, Président chez Attali et Associés

There are a thousand excellent reasons not to go into Syria:

1. It has not been established that the decision to use chemical weapons was made at the highest level of the Syrian leadership.

2. It has not been established (the opposite appears to be the case) that opposition forces have not made use of chemical weapons also.

3. Other countries have violated the 1925 Protocol without incurring the wrath of the international community.

4. The purpose of war not being to overthrow the Syrian regime, it is not clearly defined: it can be expected that the Syrian leaders will protect the people and the things that are dear to them.

5. Not to follow the Security Council’s decision is a dangerous precedent, especially for a country like France, whose status, so fragile, as a permanent member should encourage her more than any others, to accord the role of this decision-making body due importance.

6. If the strikes result in a heavy toll of civilian deaths, what ethical justification is available to support this?

7. If the strikes result in the fall of the regime, what secular and democratic government is ready to succeed it?

All these unanswered questions do not explain either the UK Government’s refusal (delaying sanction of the mad venture of Tony Blair in Iraq, which the British have never criticized) nor the American debate (so deeply rooted in the tradition of a constitution made to limit at all costs the power of the executive).

In all cases, they explain that public opinion, especially French public opinion, is worried and resistant. Everyone knew the purposes of war in Mali and Libya. And could endorse them. Here, few people understand it. Few leaders explain it.

France therefore finds herself cornered between a pathetic retreat and a misunderstood offensive. Be that as it may. And despite the so powerful arguments that I just mentioned, I am in favor of France’s involvement in such an operation, after a debate in the Parliament.

And the opposition, I think, is wrong to expect a natural fear in the face of any conflict. It should weigh the immense importance of what is at stake here. If we give free rein to the use of chemical weapons without reacting, particularly against civilian populations, in a civil war, it would be impossible to oppose their use in all kinds of conflicts.

Yet, these weapons are extremely easy to manufacture. And as easy to use. Any dictator will therefore be able to use them with impunity against his own people or against a neighbouring country.

Then, a similar reasoning can be applied to nuclear weapons, then to bacteriological, biological, genetic and nanotechnological weapons. They are no longer science fiction. They exist, they are terrifying, and are controlled only by the sense of prohibition. If this sense of prohibition disappears, if the portcullis is lifted, then, it will be hell before us. It is the very existence of humanity that will be threatened. It is ridiculous, for example, to be hostile to GMOs and indulgent with chemical weapons.

In politics, there is often but one choice between two bad solutions. The least damaging solution is always the one which can be explained to future generations. This is called the raison d’Etat. For men bearing the same name.