I was going to write a long post arguing the case for a UNSC resolution to indict Assad before the ICC, but Google revealed that Edward Bernton at the Globalist had already written it. So, I’ll just add some notes over the fold
1. Since Syria hasn’t ratified the relevant treaty, a UNSC referral is needed, as was the case with Libya and Gaddafi
2. There’s plenty of hypocrisy here given that all the important members of the UNSC (US, Russia and China) are outlaw states wrt the ICC. But (a) hypocrisy is the tribute vice pays to the virtue and (b) the whole structure of the UNSC is set up with the recognition that there is one law for the great and powerful and one for everybody else
3. Russia and China may well veto the resolution. Perhaps so, but unlike a proposal for military action, this can stay on the table forever until it is passed, after which there is no statute of limitatios. And a commitment from Obama not to use missile strikes might be sufficient to persuade the Russians and Chinese to accept an indictment.
4. At least if it could be passed by UNSC, it’s a great solution for Obama’s domestic problems. He gets to consult Congress, and do something even if (as seems virtually certain now) the House votes not to approve military action
5. Unlike random punishment aimed at airfields etc, this really is action to uphold the international norm against chemical weapons. It won’t have any immediate and decisive effect, but neither will cruise missiles