- By Colum Lynch
Colum Lynch is Foreign Policy's award-winning U.N.-based senior diplomatic reporter. Lynch previously wrote Foreign Policy's Turtle Bay blog, for which he was awarded the 2011 National Magazine Award for best reporting in digital media. He is also a recipient of the 2013 Elizabeth Neuffer Memorial Silver Prize for his coverage of the United Nations.
Before moving to Foreign Policy, Lynch reported on diplomacy and national security for the Washington Post for more than a decade. As the Washington Post's United Nations reporter, Lynch had been involved in the paper's diplomatic coverage of crises in Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, Sudan, and Somalia, as well as the nuclear standoffs with Iran and North Korea. He also played a key part in the Post's diplomatic reporting on the Iraq war, the International Criminal Court, the spread of weapons of mass destruction, and U.S. counterterrorism strategy. Lynch's enterprise reporting has explored the underside of international diplomacy. His investigations have uncovered a U.S. spying operation in Iraq, Dick Cheney's former company's financial links to Saddam Hussein, and documented numerous sexual misconduct and corruption scandals.
Lynch has appeared frequently on the Lehrer News Hour, MSNBC, NPR radio, and the BBC. He has also moderated public discussions on foreign policy, including interviews with Susan E. Rice, the U.S. national security advisor, Gerard Araud, France's U.N. ambassador, and other senior diplomatic leaders.
Born in Los Angeles, California, Lynch received a bachelor's degree from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1985 and a master's degree from Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism in 1987. He previously worked for the Boston Globe.
With the United States and Russia still deadlocked at the United Nations over the best way to stem the violence in Syria, Senator John McCain (R-AZ) stepped into the void again today, saying it’s time for the United States to bypass the U.N. Security Council and assemble a coalition of military powers to confront Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and end the killing of thousands of Syrians.
The Obama administration has been reluctant to commit to intervening militarily in Syria, preferring to support a U.N-brokered peace effort led by former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan. But Annan’s mediation effort stalled this week as an upsurge of violence forced a team of U.N. monitors to suspend their operations. The Security Council will meet tomorrow afternoon to consider next step from a slim menu of options.
Efforts by the United States and its European partners, meanwhile, to impose sanctions against Assad have run into opposition from Russia, which is reportedly sending a contingent of marines to the Russian-controlled port of Tartus in Syria.
McCain said it is unconscionable to allow Russia to veto concerted action against Assad, and recalled that President Bill Clinton overcame previous efforts by Russia to check American power, leading a NATO coalition against Yugoslavia in 1999 to end "ethnic cleansing" of the Kosovars by Serbian security forces.
"Rather than insisting that we cannot act militarily without a U.N. Security Council resolution … we should follow President Clinton’s example from Kosovo: we should refuse to give Russia and China veto power over our actions," McCain said in a speech at the American Enterprise Institute.
McCain said that "many of our allies are willing to do much more but only if the United States is with them," he said. "We should make U.S. airpower available along with that of our allies as part of an international effort." It remains unclear whether many of America’s allies would indeed be prepared to intervene militarily in Syria with or without a U.N. Security Council mandate.
McCain resurrected a proposal, previously floated by French and Turkish diplomats, to establish a series of safe havens along the border with Syria to channel humanitarian assistance to distressed Syrians. But those initiatives seemed half-hearted, and were subsequently withdrawn.
"These safe havens could become platforms for increased deliveries of food and medicine, communications equipment, doctors to treat the wounded, and other non lethal assistance; they could also serve as staging areas for armed opposition groups to receive battlefield intelligence, body armor and weapons — from small arms and ammunition to antitank rockets — and to train and organize themselves more effectively perhaps with foreign assistance."
There may be some support for such an initiative from countries like Qatar and Saudi Arabia, who have already been supplying the rebels with weapons. But Russia has made it clear that anyone considering mounting a serious attack against the Syrian government may be playing with fire.
Anatoly Isaykin, the general director of Rosoboronexport, the state arms export agency, told the New York Times that it has supplied Syria with an advanced missile defense system that could shoot down planes or sink ships."This is not a threat, but whoever is planning an attack should think about this," he said.
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