At a Glance
September 16, 2013
Admittedly I am not a fan of President Obama, but I believed he delivered a strong speech Tuesday night in reference to a possible missile strike on Syria after a chemical weapons attack on Aug. 21. The attack was on Syrian rebels and possible Al-Qaeda members inside suburbs outside Damascus.
According to Obama’s administration, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad retaliated on the rebel faction with chemical warfare once ground forces were unable to subdue the rebel attacks.
Soil and hair tests have confirmed that the chemical used in the attacks was Sarin Gas. An international committee was formed in 1968 to ban all chemical and biological weapons.
To outlaw the production and use of chemical weapons, there are currently 189 nations that are a part of the Chemical Weapons Convention. Syria broke that international law on Aug. 21.
The United States is not the world’s policeman, but it also is not a country that will stand by and allow crimes to be committed that enable leaders such as Assad.
The United States does not go around policing every minor infraction. However, an act as monumental as gassing nearly a thousand people to death is not one that can be swept under the rug or ignored.
If the offender were not held responsible, would he/she/they be deterred to use chemical weapons in the future?
There are videos floating around the Internet that document the acts of Aug. 21. Be advised the video and images are graphic, disturbing and show Syrians dead, dying and suffering from Sarin Gas.
There is no dispute as to whether the attack happened. The dispute lies with who carried out the attack. We know a chemical attack happened. We do not know who did it.
Although the videos do not prove Assad carried out the attack, injured Syrians in the videos yell out that “Assad’s Dogs” are responsible. Is that enough proof?
During President Obama’s speech, he declared the United States would fold to a more diplomatic process by sending Secretary of State John Kerry to negotiate the talks in Russia.
Leading up to Obama’s speech, most polls were split at an average of 65 percent opposing a strike on Syria.
Obama has not been able to receive the support of Congress either and noted in his speech that he does not believe a president should take military action without the support of Congress.
Russia is a long-standing ally of Iran, Syria’s main backer and the United States’ chief antagonist in the Middle East. Moscow built Iran’s first nuclear power station and has supplied it with anti-aircraft defences.
No matter how small a proposed missile strike at Syria would be, it would run the risk of igniting a World War III in the Middle East. While the United States is out of the reach of a strike from Syria or Iran, we are not out of the reach of Russia.
Do not forget, one of the United States biggest allies in the Middle East is Israel, and an attack on Israel could foresee ably draw the United States into a foreign war.
Russian President Vladimir Putin warned that any U.S. military strike on Syria that circumvents the United Nations would undermine the global body and risk unleashing a wave of terror.
I would argue that a wave of terror was already unleashed on Aug. 21. Undeniably, it would be a major risk to attack Syria without the support of Russia.
Rather than jumping to the extreme of a missile strike, the United States should lead the effort to peacefully disarm Syria.
Thankfully, a diplomatic solution was found Thursday afternoon. The Syrian government said it would accept a proposal offered on Wednesday by Russia to put its chemical weapons under international control.
Assad’s willingness is clearly significant. However, Putin said the initiative would not succeed unless Washington abandons plans for potential air strikes to punish Assad for the attack on Aug. 21.
Syria still denies the attacks, but is now for the first time publicly acknowledging the country’s chemical stockpile.
Did Obama’s threat to strike Syria force it to give up its chemical weapons? According to Assad during a Russian television interview, it did not.
Maybe it did. Maybe it didn’t. The bottom line is that Syria will hand over its chemical weapons.
Putin believes the United States has once again used “brute force” to get what it wants. In an article he wrote to the New York Times earlier this week, he said, “It is alarming that military intervention in internal conflicts in foreign countries has become commonplace for the United States. Millions around the world increasingly see America not as a model of democracy but as relying solely on brute force.”
Let us consider this: Had an attack such as Aug. 21 happened on Canadian or Mexican soil from its leaders, how long would it have been before America would have taken action? Would it have still folded to a democratic process? Or, what if in the midst of an American Revolution, United States leaders executed such an attack, would American rebels want another country to come to their aid?
I believe we would want aid. I believe our neighboring countries would want aid. I believe the injured in Syria wanted our aid.
Lucas Vance is a staff writer for The Herald Independent. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Views expressed in this column are those of the writer only and do not represent the newspaper’s opinion.