Saturday, May 4, 2013

Syria

     Things are starting to heat up in Syria.  Recently United States intelligence has reported that the Syrian government has used chemical weapons against the rebels.  This is exactly the "in" conservatives and neo-cons need to strong arm the President and the United States to finally get involved in military intervention.  Now is it just me, or does this situation ring a bell?  The parallels between the lead up to the Iraq war and the new developments in Syria are astonishing.
     Earlier this week, the President and his administration have been weighing the option of arming the rebels.  The Washington Post reported that the administration is still "pursuing political negotiation."  The key to the crisis in Syria has been Russia.  Russia is allied with the Assad regime but officials are hoping they can gain their support in lieu of the recent alleged human rights violations.  The Obama administration has been wary of the Bush Administration's justification of the Iraq war and are still reviewing evidence.
     Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel reported "our intelligence community does assess, with varying degrees of confidence, that the Syrian regime has used chemical weapons on a small scale in Syria."  This statement fired up Republicans who are now crying out for some form of aid to the rebels.
     There are many options President Obama has in this sketchy situation.  The first being he could take no action and let things progress in the war torn country.  He would receive much flack from the right and some in the international community because the United States is looked upon as a global leader.  The next option is to arm the rebels.  Some Republicans have been calling for this for a long time as a soft method of intervention in which military force would not be used.  However, what the Obama Administration does not want is another situation which occurred in Afghanistan when the Carter Administration armed Afghans against Russian forces who invaded the nation.  Now, our weapons are being used by terrorist organizations to carry out attacks against us.
     Obama could also set up a no-fly zone in Syria which would involve air strikes and the deaths of some Syrian pilots.  This would be a start to a possible obligation to military intervention if we go in alone.  Finally, the Administration could begin to send troops.  This would be the last option and would be exactly what President Obama campaigned against when he originally ran for office in 2008.  He has ended two wars and the deficit has finally started to decrease.  The last thing he needs to do is get involved in another costly war.  However, hawks such as John McCain and Lindsey Graham have lobbied for military intervention.  Even Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) has issued statements sympathetic to our potential intervention sighting that a "red line" has been crossed.
     The Washington Post also reported this week that the United Nations is now looking into the Assad Regime's alleged use of chemical weapons.  A Swedish scientist who specializes in lethal weapons arrived in London this week to examine Syria's use of chemical weapons.  Again, some are drawing parallels to the lead up to the Iraq war and the inquiry made by the UN.
     It seems as if many Republicans have short memories on international matters.  The last thing we need is to get involved in another military quagmire in the Middle East.  The Iraq War was perpetrated on Americans and the world by the Bush Administration.  They used faulty intelligence and unreliable sources on which to base their invasion and take down of Saddam Hussein's regime.  Their lies led to over 4,000 American soldiers lives lost, thousands of killed and misplaced Iraqis, trillions of dollars in debt, and now a corrupt government in Iraq who is showing sympathy toward our enemies in the region.  I do not think that based on "varying degrees confidence" and "small scale" use is enough for us to risk another possible war.
     President Obama is a consequentialist when it comes to foreign policy.  His handling of the crisis in Libya which led to the death of dictator Moammar Gadhafi was ideal.  The United States allowed other nations such as Britain and France to take the lead on the military operation while contributing drone strikes.  No American lives were lost and Gadhafi was ousted.  John McCain wanted to, as always, send troops on the ground.  Much like the current situation in Syria, Obama weighed each side and made the appropriate decision.  While there are differences between the two conflicts, this is an important historical point of which to take note when trying to assess how the Obama Administration will and should approach Syria.                     
     At this time, there just is not enough evidence to start another conflict in the Middle East.  On Meet The Press last Sunday John McCain based military intervention on the thought that even if the Assad Regime has not used chemical weapons yet, they will.  This is just the type of flawed logic and faulty intelligence which was used in the Iraq war. 
     What needs to happen is to have the global community step up and take some of the brunt as well.  If there are violations of human rights, then something absolutely must be done but the United States cannot go in alone.  United Nations troops and inquiries are not enough.  Sovereign nations need to join the United States and form a coalition if these allegations of lethal weapons are true.  If the United States tries to go in alone, we will be welcoming more American lives lost, increasing the deficit again, and the potential of another endless conflict.
     I have confidence that the President will not rush into any rash interventions or arms shipments to the rebels in Syria.  At this point, we still do not know who the enemy is.  However, I am worried that constant political pressure from the right may cause the President to cave.  There is no question that if the Assad Regime is guilty of using chemical weapons that something has to be done.  But until we have better intelligence than "varying degrees of confidence," we need to wait.  The politicians in Washington have a short memory when it comes to our conflicts in the Middle East.  Our country cannot withstand a similar military mishap that we have been dealing with for over ten years. 

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