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Obama Unlikely to Turn to UN for Syria Endorsement

Image: Obama Unlikely to Turn to UN for Syria Endorsement

By John Gizzi   |   Thursday, 29 Aug 2013 08:37 AM

With U.S. fighter planes poised to join those of at least two NATO allies in an expected airstrike against Syria, it now seems out of the question that President Barack Obama will ask the United Nations to support the attack that many in Washington say is imminent.

In all likelihood, the Obama administration will ignore the U.N. altogether and focus instead on building a coalition exclusively from European allies in NATO and, possibly, friendly Middle Eastern countries in the Arab League.

The Wall Street Journal cited on Wednesday a newspaper interview in which Turkey Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said his country would become the "first major Muslim Middle East ally of the U.S. to announce it would join an international military coalition against Syria, even without advance U.N. approval."

Reports of the Obama administration opting for a strike against Syria without going to the U.N. has alarmed some veterans of the U.S. foreign policy establishment, many of them supporters of punishing the regime of Syrian strongman Bashar al-Assad.

Recognizing that taking the case against the Assad regime to the U.N. Security Council risks a veto from Russia or China, Zbigniew Brzezinski, national security adviser to President Jimmy Carter, wrote that this is "a wise assessment but the wrong conclusion."

"What should be done at this stage is quite simple," Brzezinski wrote in the Financial Times Wednesday, "the [U.N.] General Assembly should be asked simply to endorse a resolution unequivocally condemning the chemical attack on civilians as being beyond the pale of civilized humanity — but at this stage without identifying the perpetrators."

A vote for such a resolution, according to Brzezinski, "would clarify and dramatize the moral dimensions of the tragic conflict."

Another course of action at the U.N. — and one that has been largely overlooked in discussions of the Syrian situation — is for the U.S. and its allies to seek endorsement of a Syrian airstrike under the 63-year-old "Uniting for Peace" resolution.

Initiated at the U.N. in October of 1950 by U.S. Secretary of State Dean Acheson — and known informally as the "Acheson Plan" — the Uniting for Peace resolution states that in any cases in which the five-member Security Council cannot agree unanimously to "exercise its primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security," the General Assembly shall consider the matter immediately with a view to making appropriate recommendations to members for collective measures.

After 14 days of incendiary debate, with spirited opposition led by Soviet Ambassador Andrei Vyshinsky, Uniting for Peace was passed on November 3, 1950. The vote was 52 nations in favor, 5 against — the Soviet Union and four other Communist countries — and two abstentions.

Uniting for Peace was designed primarily as an avenue for the full U.N. to get around a deadlocked Security Council.

But at this date — with a military strike aimed at Syria expected any day — time and events seemed to have passed that avenue as well as Brzezinksi's idea of the U.N. condemning chemical weapons.

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.

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