Reports have circulated over the last several weeks that Syrian President
If an investigation underway by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons confirms the latest allegation — leveled by France, among others — it will be time to bring Assad before the
Why now? Why not a year ago, when Assad used chemical weapons, including deadly sarin gas? Because until recently there remained a chance — slim though it was — for a diplomatic solution to the Syrian crisis and for Assad's negotiated exit. Knowing that a jail cell awaited him at The Hague if he left the country would have been a disincentive for Assad to leave voluntarily. But the closer Assad comes to prevailing in the war, the less need there is to keep that diplomatic exit open.
Members of the U.N. Security Council are reportedly drafting a letter to refer Assad's actions to the ICC. One challenge will be to win the backing of the United States; to that end, the letter has apparently been written specifically to allay U.S. concerns that American troops or the Israeli government will somehow end up before the tribunal.
The second — and far greater — challenge will be to win Russian support. As one of the council's five permanent members, Russia has a veto, and President
There is narrow cause for optimism. It was Russian intervention (after the threat of