Rep Chris Smith: Don’t Bomb Syria, Prosecute War Crimes

Representative Chris Smith (R-NJ) has proposed a solution to the use of chemical weapons in Syria that does not involve the United States bombing the country — the investigation and prosecution of those crimes against humanity.

Smith, New Jersey’s longest serving congressman and a well regarded champion of human rights, introduced a Concurrent Resolution last week that, if passed by both the House and Senate, would direct President Obama to work with the United Nations to set up a tribunal to investigate war crimes war crimes committed by the Syrian government and the rebel groups waging a civil war in the county.

In a interview with The Washington Post’s Brad Plumer, Smith, who has previously worked on war crimes tribunals involving Yugoslavia, Sierra Leone and Rwanda, criticizes the Obama targeting “20 year-olds who might be on an air force base” rather the actual perpetrators of use of sarin gas against the Syria people, be it the Assad regime or the rebels.

A tribunal would be a non-lethal alternative to a bombing campaign — which no one knows how long it will last. During the House hearing [on Wednesday], I asked Secretary Kerry: How do you define “limited”? How do you define “short duration”? And he didn’t answer. There’s no sense that bombing will end this war. No one is even remotely suggesting that. And I’m equally concerned about a strike where there are consequences that have or haven’t been anticipated that could occur.

Smith said the tribunal should convene immediately and that there in no need to wait for the end of the Syrian civil war.

Smith said that he asked Secretary of State John Kerry at a hearing of the House Foreign Affairs Committee if the Obama administration had proof that the chemical weapons were deployed by the Assad regime.  Kerry wouldn’t answer.

Smith said that he anticipated that Russia, China and the rest of the world community would support an investigative prosecutorial tribunal.

Read Smith’s interview with Plumer here.

Posted: September 9th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Chris Smith, Syria | Tags: , , , | 7 Comments »

7 Comments on “Rep Chris Smith: Don’t Bomb Syria, Prosecute War Crimes”

  1. Tom Stokes said at 2:56 pm on September 9th, 2013:

    Bravo Congressman Smith! This would punish those who did use these weapons.

    If the objective is to eliminate Syria’s stockpile of chemical weapons, why not fully support Russia’s just announced call for Syria to turn over ALL chemical weapons to international control and destruction of these weapons.

    See: http://www.timesofisrael.com/russia-vows-to-push-syria-to-cede-chemical-weapons/

  2. Bob English said at 3:35 pm on September 9th, 2013:

    In addition to what Sec. Kerry has revealed pubically, Congress has been given classified briefings that detail evidence that the chemical weapons attack was from the Assad regime. These include audios of intercepted phone calls and satilite images. The only possibly open question is whether Assad personally ordered it.

    Somehow I dont see regime officials subjected themselves to a war crimes trials. Also note that the regime shelled the civilian areas for four days after the chemical weapons were deployed before UN inspectors could start to gather evidence.

    Something to ponder is what would happen if Romney was President??? Note that he had a much harder hawkish posiiton on Syria than Obama did. Romney wanted to arm the rebels and was in favor of covert ops inside Syria. If Romney were President would Rubio revert to what he was saying earlier this Spring when he said “the time for passive engagement in this conflict must come to an end. It is in the vital national security interest of our nation to see Assad’s removal.”….note that “removal” is way beyound what Obama is talking about.

    If Romney were President, would Ted Cruz be spewing his nonsense about Syria being a “distraction from Benghazi” or would he be repeating what he said just 3 months ago which was “We need to develop a clear, practical plan to go in, locate the weapons, secure or destroy them, and then get out”?

  3. Art Gallagher said at 4:05 pm on September 9th, 2013:


    Congressman Smith was in attendance at the House Intelligence Committee briefing. He came away saying he’s not convinced. Sorry, but I’ll take his word for it over whatever news source you’re citing.

    From my point of view, Smith solution is the right path to take, even if we had ‘irrefutable proof’ that Assad is personally responsible. Let’s prosecute Assad, rather than make a militarily insignificant strike, which is what Obama/Kerry say they want to do, or worse, get involved in a much more open ended conflict with no clear objectives or exit.

    Something else to ponder if Romney, or McCain was President? Would Bob English still be trying to change the subject to what Ted Cruz is saying, instead of dealing with what Chris Smith is saying? 🙂

  4. Bob English said at 11:49 pm on September 9th, 2013:

    I think most would agree that if this can be resolved with Syria transfering all of its chemical weapons to a third party and having them destroyed along with having assurances/future inspections that they dont go out in 3 months and acquire new ones, that would be a reasonable approach. To make sure that actually happens though, I would also keep up the threat of a military strike since without that loming there would be no chance that the Assad regime would just wake up today and decide to get rid of their chemcial weapons.

    Regarding McCain and Romeny, I trust they would have stuck with previously stated positions (McCain has) when it comes to dealing with Syria. Cruz is a joke and has done a 180 from what he was saying just months ago….no wonder most of the R’s in Congress cant stand him!!

  5. Smith Pushes for Syria Tribunal | The Save Jersey Blog said at 11:56 pm on September 9th, 2013:

    […] By Art Gallagher | MoreMonmouthMusings.com […]

  6. Booker’s Headache: Donna Jackson | The Save Jersey Blog said at 6:27 pm on September 10th, 2013:

    […] By Art Gallagher | MoreMonmouthMusings.com […]

  7. Booker’s Lead “Almost Insurmountable” in Rutgers-Eagleton Poll | The Save Jersey Blog said at 10:45 am on September 11th, 2013:

    […] By Art Gallagher | MoreMonmouthMusings.com […]