Syria – You’re 30 Months Too Late Mr. President
Three years ago people in countries across the Middle East and in North Africa took to the streets protesting tyranny and demanding democratic reform. In some cases, those protests evolved into civil war and countries that included Libya, Egypt and Syria were plunged into violent confrontation between the existing regime and those demanding change.
In every case, rebellion was met with brutal retaliation by the government.
In Egypt, the police and military shot protesters in the streets and raped and brutalized women whether they were demonstrating or not. In Libya, demonstration became outright civil war and the Kaddafi regime used its air force to bomb its own people and in Syria, the brutal regime of Bashar Al-Assad moved to crush any rebellion using its military to attack and kill Syrians demanding reform.
Through it all, the International Community and the American Administration have responded with confused and often contradictory strategies.
Barack Obama organized a NATO coalition to enforce a no-fly zone over Libya to prevent the Libyan air force against civilians. At the time, he declared that he was motivated by what he called R2P – a “duty to protect” civilians. When violence broke out in Egypt and in Syria, President Obama ignored his own R2P policy and along with other countries in the West and both NATO and the United Nations stood by and refused to intervene to protect civilians from the brutality being inflicted by the Mubarak and Assad regimes.
When the Muslim Brotherhood was elected to government in Egypt, Barack Obama provided foreign aid to what rapidly became as oppressive as the regime it had replaced. When the people of Egypt rose up again in protest which again was met with brutal reprisals, the Egyptian military stepped in and overthrew the government.
The best the Obama administration could do in response was to make innocuous public statements and threaten to cut off foreign aid to the government. So disjointed and confused has been the Obama Administration’s handling of Egypt that shoes were thrown at former Head of State Hillary Clinton on her visit after the election of the Muslim Brotherhood. In the Arab world, throwing your shoe at someone is one of the highest forms of insult there is – next to killing you with suicide and road bombs, of course.
In Syria, the Administration not only refused to defend civilians it began covertly funding the rebels, many of whom by this time were now members of terrorist organizations including Al-Qaeda who are sworn enemies of the United States.
When chemical weapons were used earlier this year in Syria, the President and the International Community did nothing claiming that it was unclear as to who had launched the attack. Now, the President has decided to act but I believe he is driven less by a sincere desire to do what is right than he is by a desperate need to try and repair his credibility and reputation.
Indeed, earlier today, a school was bombed with an incendiary bomb similar to napalm killing ten children and injuring dozens of others with horrific burns. The Administration and the International Community have remained silent about it because napalm is not considered a chemical weapon.
It isn’t the lives of the innocent that are important to this Administration; it’s trying to repair the damaged reputation of the American President.
Unfortunately he is more than just a dollar short and a day late – he is thirty months too late.
It was Doctors without Borders who first reported the chemical attack on August 21 and in that report they were clear that they did not know who launched the weapons only that chemical weapons had been used.
The Obama Administration seized on the report with all of the moral outrage of the truly desperate. It was reported that approximately 1300 people had been injured and 100 killed. Joe Biden literally foamed at the mouth in denouncing the attack, claiming that there was ‘no doubt‘ the Assad Regime had ordered the attack and that it must be punished. He may yet prove to be right but not yet.
I don’t make light of the death of anyone and especially not 100 innocent people but do the math. More than 100,000 people have been butchered since the civil war broke out in Syria and that averages slightly more than 100 people a day – every day – in the 30 months since it began. There was no moral outrage from the International Community or the Obama Administration as the body count continued to mount. Instead they sent in arms to contribute to the slaughter.
Civilians including women, children, Christians and non-Muslims – all became targets for both sides in the war and yet nobody from Barack Obama to the United Nations did anything. The moral outrage over the chemical weapon attack earlier this month is nothing less than self-serving hypocrisy.
The Administration doesn’t have incontrovertible evidence that it was Assad who ordered the attack. They’ve both denied and admitted it but it was pretty much underscored by British Prime Minister David Cameron’s failure to get the British Parliament to authorize military action in Syria.
Mr. Cameron presented a case that included a legal dossier, an intelligence file and some YouTube videos. The legal dossier was little more than an outline of the law banning the use of chemical weapons and the legal opinion as to the legitimacy of attacking those who violated that law. The Intelligence file was primarily the information gathered by U.S. Intelligence – the same people that put together the case for the Iraq War based on non-existent Weapons of Mass Destruction.
While American Intelligence is on the record stating that it is ‘most likely’ that the Assad regime or some rogue element within it launched the attack, it is not a proven fact.
As a result Britain, which has seldom backed down from a fight or support for its American ally, refused to sanction military action in Syria. It was a stunning public slap in the face for David Cameron and a complete repudiation of the leadership of Barack Obama.
In fact, with the exception of France, no country has agreed to support the Obama Administration’s intention to launch some kind of ‘measured’ military response against the Assad Regime.
Nonetheless, the President will order an attack of some sort in what I consider to be his most dangerously careless decision in a long record of careless and poorly thought-out decisions.
It is not without serious problems.
What does he order attacked? He can’t order an attack on chemical weapons facilities because that would result in releasing chemical nerve agents including saurin gas killing and injuring people in the area.
He can’t attack a serious military installation for fear that it would weaken the Assad Regime to the point that Iran and possibly Russia would step in to prop it up. In fact, the President has been reduced to trying to find targets that will make it appear as if he is resolute but which will not trigger a response either from the Regime or its allies.
At that point – why bother? Nobody is fooled by this tepid show of meaningless bravado and it only further underscores both Barack Obama’s failed leadership and America’s growing confusion about how to defend its interests.
The idea that the Assad Regime will not retaliate if the American attack is appropriate measured is bizarre and based more on Barack Obama’s own failure to retaliate for the attack in Benghazi than on how a regime like that of Bashar Al-Assad would respond. It is conceivable that a response may not be directly against the United States but against Israel and could potentially include the use of chemical weapons; just one more unintended consequence of a poorly thought out action.
In the end, it has come down to this. Barack Obama and the International Community failed the innocent in Syria thirty months ago by refusing to take action to defend civilians. As a result, the conflict in Syria is no longer a civil war between the people of Syria and the Assad Regime. Now it is a war between different factions all of which are enemies of the United States and the West.
On one side there is the Assad Regime supported by Iran, Hezbollah and Russia. On the other is a so-called rebel force increasingly dominated by various jihadi terrorist groups that include the same group that attacked the American mission in Benghazi and Al-Qaeda.
Why anyone would want to pick a dog in that fight at this stage escapes me.
Nobody knows the truth anymore. For every video and claim that the chemical attack was made by the Assad Regime, there are counter claims and videos that show the opposite. It is a situation that is hardly worth running the risk of a major war for. This is just one example and it may or may not be true like every other claim currently being made by all sides in this war of accusations.
The President had multiple opportunities to do the right thing – he chose not to do so and now it is too late. Nothing good can come from military action at this juncture no matter how limited it might be. It will not deter the Assad Regime and it may well encourage rebel forces to consider using chemical weapons to provoke yet another strike. Worse, it runs the risk of drawing in outside allies of both sides in the conflict which could escalate the conflict beyond the borders of Syria.
It’s too late Mr. President. You failed yet again to live up to your rhetoric. You failed yet again to do the right thing in the beginning and you have little to no credibility internationally anymore. Your enemies do not fear you and your allies will not support your call to arms
It is too late to try and portray yourself as the leader of the free world Mr. President. You have failed and attacking Syria will not change that or repair your credibility.
Let us hope that it is not too late for the rest of us.
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