Monday, September 9, 2013

The Syrian Question

- photo syria.jpg
By now, we all know that over 1,400 Syrians, including 426 children, were killed in the August 21st Sarin gas attack reportedly ordered by President Bashar al-Assad.  While our government claims to have positive proof of al-Assad's complicity in the attack, many remain skeptical since U.S. officials won't release said evidence to the public.

I'm not going to take issue with the government's failure to publicly release evidence of al-Assad's guilt.  It's easily conceivable that the publication of such evidence could expose the existence of intelligence assets which need to remain covert.  Yet, even if the attack went down the way we believe it went down, I take great issue with The White House's call for a military response.

Understand, I'm a hardcore Democrat & Obama supporter, but on this issue he's just plain wrong.  President Obama wants to respond with an action which, "...would be limited, both in time and scope – designed to deter the Syrian government from gassing its own people again and degrade its ability to do so.  ...the American people are weary after a decade of war, even as the war in Iraq has ended, and the war in Afghanistan is winding down. That's why we're not putting our troops in the middle of somebody else's war."

A limited action, without putting boots on the ground, sounds good.  However, he's saying we can fight a limited war without the prolonged ugly parts.  It can't be done; we learned as much when we tried to send limited support to South Vietnam over 50 years ago.

Even if the President honestly believes we can strike fast and be in & out of Syria in a matter of days, he can't guarantee such results.  Bush thought the same thing as he stood on the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln and declared, "Mission Accomplished," over Iraqi forces.  Eight years later, we were still in Iraq losing American lives.

The pragmatist in me says that if we commit military forces to Syria, we need to go all the way, and remove al-Assad from power.  There are problems with that approach too though, the biggest being our forces would be stuck their until a new regime could be fully installed.

The other glaring problem with a military reaction lies with the fact that we weren't attacked.
  • It is both right & noble to be outraged by the torturous slaughter of a mass of men, women, and children.
  • It is both right & noble to want to rescue an oppressed people.
  • It is both right & noble to want to punish a regime of mass murderers.
Yet, it's not our place.  We wouldn't be defending our people, allies, or interests, but we WOULD be giving a new enemy a reason to retaliate against us.  We know they have Sarin.  If we attack them, it'd be pretty simple for a dedicated Syrian operative to open a thermos of Sarin at a Chicago Bears game or in the middle of Time Square.

Finally, all other things aside, we don't have the law on our side.  Whether Congress approves the attack, or not, without the sanction of the U.N., our attack would an international crime perpetrated in response to the breaking of 1997's Chemical Weapons Ban Treaty, which Syria didn't even sign.
The map graphic above is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work prepared by an officer or employee of the United States Government as part of that person’s official duties under the terms of Title 17, Chapter 1, Section 105 of the US Code. 

No comments:

Post a Comment