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Vladimir Putin

(Photo credit: Valeriy Melnikov/Host Photo Agency via Getty)

Retaliation or the Lex Talionis 

Life teaches us not to let ourselves be provoked.  Indignation has its place, but if someone gets angry, it is best to leave the room and let that person simmer down.  Whether or not he or she is right or wrong, the first response to anger may well be to get out of harm’s way.

Retaliation, the lex talionis, an eye for an eye, is at times applicable.  For instance, Assad may have to compensate the Syrian citizens who have left the country and the families of those who have been killed.  However, in all likelihood, retaliation, i.e. a strike on the part of the US, would, at the moment, make matters worse.

When George W Bush entered Iraq, he entered a sovereign nation.  This was a transgression.  We may therefore be witnessing an instance of retaliation (lex talionis).

Using Chemical Weapons: “war Crime”

However, forces under Bashar al-Assad’s command now stand accused of a “war crime.”  The use of chemical weapons, weapons of mass destruction, is a criminal violation of international law.  Given that Assad’s forces killed indiscriminately 1,429 Syrian citizens using a chemical weapon, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad may have to face the International Court of Justice, at The Hague, as may Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Matters have changed

In other words, on 16 September 2013, when the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, reported that sarin gas had been used, matters changed.  It is now for a united world to act.  A strike on the part of the United States may no longer be the appropriate course of action.


US Secretary of State John Kerry

US Secretary of State John Kerry pared the problem down to the use of a chemical weapon, the “war crime.”  In an “off-the-cuff” remark, John Kerry stated that if Syria put its chemical weapons under international control and destroyed them, there would not be a strike on the part of the United States.  The world welcomed this idea, including Ban Ki-moon, the Secretary-General of the United Nations.

The Deal of a lifetime

In the meantime, as mentioned above, it has been determined by the United Nations that Bashar al-Assad’s forces used sarin, a chemical weapon, to kill 1,429 Syrian citizens.  On 16 September 2013, Ban Ki-moon, reported that a “war crime” had been committed.  If it is acceptable to the international community, Mr Kerry’s deal may be the deal of a lifetime for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.  At any rate, President Assad has accepted to put his chemical weapons under international control.  They will be destroyed.


The US viewed as “exceptional”


According to Michael Freund of the Jerusalem Post, “America is truly different, both because of its principles and its performance on the world stage.”  The United States has been and remains a superpower, but should the world entertain the notion that certain states are exceptional?  This concept warrants serious analysis.

For one thing, the US’ status as “superpower” has been a burden on US President Barack Obama and his nation.



Felix Mendelssohn (3 February 1809 –  4 November 1847)
Song without Words, opus 109
Jacqueline du Pré (cello)
449px-Mendelssohn_BartholdyPortrait of Felix Mendelssohn by the English miniaturist James Warren Childe (1778–1862), 1839
Photo credit: Wikipedia
(Please click on the image to enlarge it.)
© Micheline Walker
September 18, 2013