Tag Archives: UN

Syria – To Bomb Or Not

Syrian Flag

Our “Red Line.”

Obama created such a line when he warned Assad:

“We cannot have a situation where chemical or biological weapons are falling into the hands of the wrong people,” Obama told reporters at the White House. “We have been very clear to the Assad regime — but also to other players on the ground — that a red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized.

“We have communicated in no uncertain terms with every player in the region that that’s a red line for us and that there would be enormous consequences if we start seeing movement on the chemical weapons front or the use of chemical weapons.”

Obama’s remarks appeared to ratchet up his stance on the matter. Last month, talking about Syrian forces, he told a VFW convention, “They will be held accountable by the international community and the United States should they make the tragic mistake of using those weapons.”

I’ve long been more hawkish than dovish, and using force has been an easier proposition for me than for many of my friends.  However, I  like to think that there is a clear reason for such force and that the use of force actually accomplishes that reason.

What has changed for me, however, is the role that I see the United States playing in the world.  In the past, that role was one more sympathetic to seeing the US as the world’s police.  I’ve evolved in that view these past years and am more likely to reserve US military intervention for the direct defense of Americas.

That’s not to say that the “crimes against humanity” argument doesn’t resonate with me, it does – just not as loudly.  The world has been relatively clear that it wants a more balanced approach in the use of force; the United States doesn’t need to stand alone.  We are not living in that place where it was good vs. evil, the USSR vs. The USA.  Then it WAS us and only us.  Now, with the larger existential threat no longer looming, the conditions are such that we are too play a part – not the WHOLE part.

And more and more I’m okay with that.  In fact, as the world is becoming an ever growing economy tied together by trade and prosperity, I am feeling more and more confident in common goals.

So, where does that leave us?  Well, the more I think on it the more I am coming to see actions taken by nations that fall into two categories:

  1. Humanitarian Crisis
  2. War Crime

Those lines may blur some because it’s hard to imagine a humanitarian crisis existing that is technically “legal”.  However, for now, I’ll stay with those definitions.

In this context, Syria, as a whole, has been a glaring example of a Humanitarian Crisis long before chemical weapons were deployed.  The people of Syria have been subjected to suffering orders of magnitude more severe than the recent events surrounding the use of chemical weapons.

Additionally, the use of chemical weapons clearly violates international law.

Obama erred in his Red Line.  He erred in two aspects:

  1. The line he drew is a line best handled by international law bodies.  In this case, the UN.
  2. He failed to consider that should he take action, who would most benefit.

No one denies that gassing your own, or some one else’s, now that I mention it, citizens is horrible.  But it is no less horrible than walking up to them and simply shooting them.  If we wanna keep the days of the United States acting as world police, make that case and position your statements with such tone and tenor.  But enforcing international law?

No way.


Musings On Syria

Syrian Flag


What are we supposed to do?

First, I’m relatively more hawkish than the Left or my Libertarian brothers.  When the time comes for the use of force, I’m very alright with using that force and then walking away – the walking away part is the hard part.  But here in Syria, we have such a different set of circumstances.

First, there are no “good guys” in the fight.  To be sure, there are innocent civilians being impacted in horrible horrible ways, but the aggressive actors are all rotten – we have no natural ally in the field.  Given this, by attacking Syria, we are, by definition, helping Al Qaeda.

Frankly, when asked who we would root for in a war between Syria and Al Qaeda, the only sane answer is “Casualties”.

Second, if a state uses chemical weapons, the line has been crossed and distinct action must take place.  The world is no place for nation states, complete with well functioning chains of command, to be using chemical weapons.  Against an enemy or against its own citizenry.

Good guy or bad guy – that cannot go unpunished.

Which brings me to my third point.  There is no rational reason for the Assad regime to carry out a chemical attack against his own people.  Those that hate him, already do.  And those that support him, again, already do.  There is nothing to gain by the mass murder of that many innocent people.

Assad surly must know that America would strike.  That we would take action and react to that red line.  And that if he was faced with using chemical weapons, it must be in a case that NOT using them was worse than the repercussions OF using them.

And I don’t see a compelling argument that Assad took any advantage by the use of that chemical strike.

I’m sure that a crime against humanity has been committed.  And I’m sure that someone must be held accountable for this crime.  I just don’t think that America should act as the world’s police force and rush to judgement -and sentencing- of this particular crime.

Let the UN handle it.

And you know what?  It would seem that elements of the Left agree with me!

This time, maybe the Obama administration isn’t about to launch cruise missiles against Syria. Maybe there’s still time to prevent it. Right now, those risking their lives on the ground to help the Syrian people are the UN inspectors. If the United States is really concerned about their safety, and recognizes the legitimacy of UN inspectors, the Obama administration should immediately engage with the UN leadership and with the Syrian, Russian and other relevant governments to insure their safety while they continue their crucial efforts. Cruise missiles will make that work impossible. What’s needed now is tough diplomacy, not politically motivated military strikes that will make a horrific war even worse.

I’m not one to source The Nation, but go read Bennis’ article – worth the time.

For Better For Worse

Look, I get it.  Some of us are okay with military action in order to protect our interests.  Others, not so much.

Some folks would like the US to lead in International affairs.  Again, others would rather we took a more passive role and involve ourselves only insomuch as we are part of a larger coalition.

Be that as it may, we are seeing, and will continue to see, how a world reacts with America acting as a partner, not a leader.

As an aside, I am curious.  Can anyone describe the substantial difference in Libya breaking one single UN resolution that makes force okay while Iraq breaking multiple UN resolutions did not justify force?