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Syria, Hollande, R2P and a joint European approach to foreign policy

Hollande says “military action” is an option

Just yesterday French President Hollande announced that a military action against Syria is an option if based on a UN Security Council decision. It did not take long that politicians from Germany no matter if represented in the government or not raised their voices. They unisono stated their disapproval about Hollandes statement.

German reaction and CFSP

Two things just came to my mind when I read theses news. First –Germany and the top political elite still react to military action as a tool in politics like in the Cold war. Second – where the hell is the Common Foreign and Security Policy of the European Union.

Germany and military action in politics – R2P

It is no question and common sense that military operations are the last resort in (international) relations. Since the Treaty of Westphalia sovereignty of nation states is a high priority in international politics meaning every state is doing its own business within it very own borders. Fortunately the international law developed – based on cruel and bloody experiences throughout the centuries – in order to protect civilians from the brutality of their own leader. That is why we have today the “responsibility to protect” implemented in international law. And Hollande referred plainly to the approval of the UN Security Council. If a decision is taken on the basis of Chapter 7 of the UN Charta military action is acceptable.

So why do German politicians rule out military action instantly? They talk about weighing up the situation; they want to strengthen the diplomatic approach; they warn about consequences that may come if military action is realised. Fair enough – it is good to think it over and to try everything possible and use every opportunity politics offer before raising the guns. But what else should happen? The massacres experienced right now inSyriaare far more than acceptable. We waited too long in formerYugoslavia; we did not act inRuandain time and so forth. It’s a difficult task to find the right time when diplomacy ends and weapons are the only answer. Assad already went over the top.

It is still a normal (political) behaviour inGermanyto rule out military options even when they are more needed than ever. Is it still the WWII experience that leads the German politicians and make them more dovish than others? No matter what it is, we have to use the possibilities international law gives us to protect civilians from being slaughtered by their own dictators – as President Hollande indicated. People inSyriawould be very thankful, I guess.

The Common Foreign and Security Policy in Europe

Well, the latest reaction connected to the massacre of Houla was a press statement by the EU High Representative Catherine Ashton where she condemned the actions of the Syrian regime and reminded Assad to implement UNSC resolution 2043 incl. the six point plan put forward by Special Envoy Kofi Annan.

If you ask me the European Union should definitely put more pressure on Assad than just one sheet of paper. Here I also go with Hollande and prefer to rattle with the sabre – willing to let follow action afterwards.

We have to learn to stand up for human rights and physical integrity even if we need the army to guarantee it. No dictator is allowed to do what Assad is doing.

Published inInternational Politics

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