Let's be clear: Although the Syrian government of President Assad is thought to retain possession of that country's chemical weapons arsenal, and hence, would be in a position to use such weapons, in the fog of war no one will be able to confirm definitively that Assad's regime deployed chemical weapons against the rebels. Scenarios exist for some faction of the rebels to have done so, precisely to provoke U.S. and European intervention on behalf of the rebels. Indeed, inasmuch as the Assad regime has been WINNING the war against the rebels, why would the regime risk international opprobrium - and possible Western intervention - at this time? Doesn't make sense. Of course, that doesn't necessarily mean the regime didn't miscalculate.
All the above should give the United States and the Europeans pause.
Beyond that, only look at Iraq and Afghanistan. Both countries convulse with violence daily. Even liberating Libya from Colonel Kaddafi - which was supposed to be comparatively easy - has produced an unpalatable outcome. Just over the last few days, Tripoli was bracing for an armed confrontation and the threat of a coup and rebels were mobilising across the country and blockading key oil ports. (GUARDIAN, August 20th)
In short, the record for Western interventions around southwest Asia, the Middle-East, and North Africa has been abysmal, both on humanitarian and even practical grounds.
Let the U.N. weapons inspectors now in Syria do their job. (Although a U.N. convoy has already come under sniper fire en route to an attack site.)
As Bulgarian journalist Viktor Kotsev notes in The ASIA TIMES, "Syrians to be losers... again"...
After reading Viktor's article, ponder this: Is U.S. "credibility" (the constant theme of interventionist "talking heads" on the network interview shows) really worth all the bloodshed which would inevitably accompany U.S. intervention? And if Assad were toppled (which Russia and Iran will do their best to prevent), what will replace that government?
But, a veteran Indian diplomat writes - also in The ASIA TIMES - President Obama has been playing a brilliant diplomatic game. You can't imagine? Read the article...
I hope Obama can keep the US out of it. We've made a real mess in the Middle East [Afganistan and Iraq]. Let the UN inspectors do their job. We are not the police of the world. We don't need boots on the ground, this isn't our fight. We don't have the money either. The Trillions we spent during the Bush and Obama years have netted up much debt and nothing else.
These folks need to fight their own battles. They don't want our help [even if they say they do we always end up being the bad guy in the end so why bother] and their vision of Democracy isn't like ours [Egypt, Iraq, Afganistan]. So let's just one time, stay out of it. Allow some other nation or nations to spend THEIR money, get their soldiers killed, etc., etc. Time for the US to start fixing the many problems we have here at home.
Mon, Aug 26, 2013 10:46am
As in Egypt, hundreds of Orthodox Christians are being killed in Syria. Their homes and places of worship are being destroyed. And they are being killed by the rebels. There is no doubt what the outcome will be if they win control of the country. The US news media has no interest in covering the story.
But Russia has assured the world that they will step in. The Middle East is now in the Russian sphere of influence. We can stay out. But we must understand that Russia will control the region. Which frankly does not trouble me. I trust Putin much more than I trust the Obama cartel.
Mike from Delaware
Mon, Aug 26, 2013 1:16pm
JimH: Good points. These are no win situations. Since the Russians say they're going to step in, we should not interfere. Let them handle it. I agree the Middle East is in the Russian sphere of influence, better them than us.
Mon, Aug 26, 2013 1:40pm
JimH: I fail to see your first point. Yes, Orthodox Christians are being killed. But more importantly, PEOPLE are being killed! Why does it matter if the US news media specifically covers the Christian deaths? People are people regardless of their religion, aren't they? Are the Christians somehow more important in this conflict than any other group, that their deaths deserve to be singled out?
"And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you." -- Matthew 6:5-6
Mon, Aug 26, 2013 2:38pm
Allan, there is a report out by Syria saying they discovered tunnels and in those tunnels they found chemical weapons that said MADE IN SAUDI ARABIA, thereby implying it was the rebels.
And one has to applaud the audacity of inviting the UN inspectors out on a field trip and then ambushing them... If the inspectors hadn't gotten away, it would have been brilliant.
I would like you to ask your source in Egypt, if, since we are almost quite certain the Saudis have no capacity to make chemical weapons, that this with certainty almost points to the Syrians being the ones faking the photo op. There could be no way the Saudis would give the rebels poisoned gas to use on their own people to blame on Syria, with their names emblazoned on them!
Hearing that ruse, one can be 100% sure that the Syrians launched the attack. Perhaps you could get your source to nail this down. I heard it was the brother of Assad who was in charge of the military faction who ordered the attack.
AS for retaliation... this has suddenly evolved beyond a civil war. This is now a crime against humanity. What has to happen, is that a price must be paid, one so severe so that any future despot possessing chemical weapons, will know that he will lose his war against the world, so using chemical weapons is not worth it... He will lose everything.
On the other hand, if the world looks the other way because it's tired of fighting, the new standard will become one where chemical weapons can be used on one's own people to suppress a rebellion. It will have established a precedent.
Those who argue we can't get involved in another civil war had a good argument until this incident. Now, we have to make it SO PAINFUL for Syria, that no nation will even think of unleashing these toxin into our air supply, for a long while.
I think a massive aerial bombardment destroying Assad's military infrastructure and military hardware might do the trick. Giving him no planes, no tanks, no four-wheel drives, no airfields, no military camps, no functioning artillery, might just be the proper punishment needed.
We do this and walk away. The war can continue on the ground, and Assad may still win. But... the next despot will think long and hard before launching chemical weapons on his own people.
Which is the whole reason for the retaliation anyway.
Mon, Aug 26, 2013 3:22pm
The fog of war almost always makes it difficult to ascertain truth, but in the Syrian conflict, infighting amongst Arab, Sunni vs. Shi'a, the meddling of Iran and the great powers, etc., make it impossible to assess the reliability of reports.
The problem is if Assad falls, we most likely end up with empowered rebels with links to all sorts of Islamist groups not at all grateful for any Western intervention on their side. That, in turn, will likely produce an ethnic (or more precisely, religious) cleansing of the Alawi Shi'a Muslims, Orthodox Christians, and other minorities.
Mon, Aug 26, 2013 3:51pm
Have we learned nothing from the very recent past? As Mr. Loudell pointed out...if Assad falls, who fills the void?
In Egypt and Libyam the dictators have been replaced by militant Islamists. (Even Iraq appears to be headed in that direction, now that US troops are gone). In addition, if the US takes out Assad have we effectively declared WWIII against Russia and Iran? ...and in the process, handed chemical weapons over to Al-Qaeda/Muslim Brotherhood?
Shawn: While I agree that people are people and any loss of life is tragic...the Copts are being ethnically cleansed from Egypt...just as the Jews were in Nazi Germany. Their homes, businesses and churches have been tagged with red paint (opposite of the Jews in Egypt pre-Passover sooo many years ago when they painted their homes with blood to protect themselves during the time of Moses). This is a story that is largely ignored by the "news" and not acknowleged by this president.
Mon, Aug 26, 2013 3:58pm
Ah, irony. On NPR this morning, I heard one of the announcers say that this is the first time that chemical weapons had been used in war against a country's own people since Saddam Hussein used them against the Kurds.
And from where do you think he got those chemicals? From us (US), of course. Remember, he was our ally against the evil Iranian empire. There is even a famous photo of Saddam shaking hands with Rumsfield while he was using those chemicals. Do Americans have the memory of a cockroach?
We will intervene. We need another war. The Military-Industrial complex must be fed. Then, when Assad is overthrown, and today's "freedom fighters" turn back into "Al-Qaeda in Syria", we can fight them too.
Mon, Aug 26, 2013 4:01pm
Sorry, my previous post made it sound like the Copts were mad about grafitti artists or some type of simple property vandalism.
...the red-paint markings are used to single out who to kill and which businesses and churches to burn...the Muslim households and businesses are tagged with black paint.
Mon, Aug 26, 2013 11:23pm
This is another "see I told you so." I've been trying to pound the point home for years that there actually were WMD's in Iraq and that Saddam transferred the weapons to Syria during the 10-month run-up to the war. I also predicted the eventual use of the weapons by Syria, and now it's actually happened.
So, Bush didn't lie after all. Ole Mr. Pizza knew that all along.
Mon, Aug 26, 2013 11:30pm
Deal with Russia! Say. "Look, sign onboard to our punishment of his use of chemical weapons, and we will both agree to leave Syria in your sphere of influence before and after Assad is gone.
Mon, Aug 26, 2013 11:54pm
I think Dunmore has summed up the situation perfectly. Also, further confirmation that Syria got the WMD's from us via Saddam. Now that Saddam's dead, I guess that means we "eliminated the middle man."
Mike from Delaware
Tue, Aug 27, 2013 8:13am
Mrpizza: Bush may have believed those weapons were no longer in Iraq and in Syria, but he had no proof and that's a lousy way to start a war, on a hunch.
Even if he did know that, why didn't he try then to make the case to instead go into Syria rather than Iraq to find those WMD's? Because Bush Jr. wanted to get even with Saddam for his verbal threats against his pop [Bush Sr.]. The war in Iraq was simply a pay back for a verbal threat made, that Sadaam never carried out [he was a lot of talk].
Sorry, Bush Jr. decided that the US didn't have to wait for the world body of the UN to find nothing [he knew if he did wait, he'd never be able to sell the nation, much less the world on going to war] so he jumped the gun and decided to play Lone Ranger and ride in on his white stallon to pretend to be the hero, where he really was an advenger seeking revenge. That plan sure worked well [sarcaim intended].
There's more terrorists wanting to get even with the US, thousands of American and Iraqi lives have been lost, and the US is now Trillions of dollars in debt, because of this plan by Bush Jr.
Yep Bush Jr. is a real genius [sarcasim intended].
Mike from Delaware
Tue, Aug 27, 2013 8:18am
Kavips said, "Deal with Russia! Say. "Look, sign onboard to our punishment of his use of chemical weapons, and we will both agree to leave Syria in your sphere of influence before and after Assad is gone."
Kavips, you should try to get that message to the Obama folks BEFORE they get us involved and we lose more lives and spend Trillions of dollars we don't have to fight another war that won't accomplish what its supposed to accomplish. You have an excellent idea. Let the Ruskies pay the price in cash and lives for a change. Works for me.
Tue, Aug 27, 2013 7:32pm
MFD: Yeah, it's all Bush's fault, and as far as liberals are concerned, everything's America's fault. Believe what you want at your own risk.
Mike from Delaware
Wed, Aug 28, 2013 8:08am
Mrpizza: Bush was the major player, AND the guy who got to make the final decision, because HE WAS THE PREZ [Even if given lousy advice from Cheney and his cabinet staff, etc.], as Truman famously said "The buck stops here", meaning the President's desk. So yes, it was Bush Jr.'s fault. Even Papa Bush didn't agree with Jr, and tried to disuade him from going into Iraq. It is what it is.
Why do you think Papa Bush told General Schwarzkopf NO when he wanted to go on into Baghdad at the end of Desert Storm?
[The one war Papa Bush oversaw successfully against Saddam, and keeping that nutjob from destroying the Kuwait oil fields, and got us out, in a matter of weeks]. He knew what would happen and Papa Bush was correct and Jr. was wrong. Jr. should have listened to his Dad.
Wed, Aug 28, 2013 8:39am
Actually, General Schwarzkopf later said he AGREED with the first President Bush's decision not to advance to Baghdad.
Whether that represents 20/20 hindsight (and that Schwarzkopf might have originally thought otherwise, and said so to President George H. W. Bush), or whether Schwarzkopf opposed moving on to Baghdad from the start... we may never know!
Add your comment: Attention: In an attempt to promote a level of civility and personal
responsibility in blog discussions, we now require you to be a member of
the WDEL Members Only Group in order to post a comment. Your Members
Only Group username and password are required to process your post.
You can join the WDEL Members Only Group for free by clicking here.
If you are already a member but have forgotten your username or password, please
Please register your post with your WDEL Members Only Group username and password below.