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Sunday, September 08, 2013

Syria - Five Reasons to Support President Obama

Of course it's easy to say "No" to military intervention in Syria, even when the country's President Assad used chemical weapons to murder well over a thousand civilians who he apparently felt were, somehow, threatening his leadership.

Nobody in their right minds would deliberately choose the risk of war over the opportunity to simply stay neutral, regardless of how many innocent civilians were murdered in the Syrian Sarin gas genocide.  

But Assad's deplorable use of chemical weapons against civilians crosses an international, global red line, said Secretary of State John Kerry speaking in Paris, France.

Obviously, the easier decision is to ignore the use of chemical weapons, because their use didn't violate American national security. Yet, support for a response is obviously a more difficult decision. Any reasons in support of a US military led response to the Syrian chemical weapons attack on civilians are fraught with risk for a wider war.  Nevertheless, doing nothing will likely postpone another, even worse, issue, at a later time. Evil dictators who use chemical weapons once will do so again and, worse, open the door to other like minded tyrants to do the same.

Here are five important reasons the United States should lead in response to the genocide of Syrian civilians who died as a result of the Sarin gas genocide.  

Of course, the most important reason is because Assad committed genocide against his country's citizens. This one reason is so evident, it supersedes all others. 

Here are five others:

1.  War is evil and destructive, but adding chemical weapons to the arsenal of any military initiative puts momentum in the direction of the side with the most poisons. There's no end to this acceleration with nothing but devastating outcomes for both sides.  Leaders who use chemical weapons without retribution will do so again.

2.  American credibility is on the line. To do nothing will reinforce our nation's vulnerability among our allies. America will need the help of allies in unknown future conflicts, but they could become reluctant to support a nation where ambiguity replaces leadership. Moreover, no response gives our enemies, like Al Qaeda, a sense of empowerment, as lack of a response will indicate weakness.

3.  Chemical weapons are a weapon of mass destruction (WMD).  President Assad crossed an international red line, ratified to ban the use of chemical weapons.  The Geneva Protocol prohibits the first use of chemical and biological weapons in international armed conflicts. It was signed at Geneva on 17 June 1925 and entered into force on 8 February 1928. Most civilized nations in the world signed this Protocol.

4.  Syria is a shield for Iranian nuclear weapons development. Senator John McCain has been prophetic about the risk of doing nothing in Syria. Allowing the Syrian rebels to go undefended serves to shield Iran from the intense scrutiny of its own nuclear weapons program - a diversion.  McCain has been a proverbial voice in the wilderness about the dangers of inaction in Syria.  In July, 2013 he said arming Syrian rebels against President Assad is an important step in deterring Iran from its nuclear ambitions.  Speaking to Army Radio on a visit to Israel, the Republican Senator McCain deflected concerns that weapons provided to rebels could fall into the hands of terrorists, who might use them against the United States and Israel. Rather, arming the rebels will help prevent Assad from expanding his influence in the Middle East while providing cover to Iran's nuclear weapons program.  

“There’s [sic] no good options,” said McCain, “Would you rather have these weapons – perhaps some of them – in the hands of the wrong people, or would you rather have [Syrian President] Bashar Assad prevail and then encourage Iran to further their ambitions on nuclear weapons?”

5.  Genocide is genocide is genocide.  Look to the past as an indication of the future.  Past genocides have remained in historical memories far beyond the experiences:  (a) French genocides of the Huguenots beginning with the 1572, St. Bartholomew Day's massacres; (b)  1755 Engliish genocide and deportation of French Acadians called Le Grand Derangement, from Acadia, modern day Nova Scotia, an event immortalized by American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in the epic poem "Evangeline", published in 1847;  (c)  the Armenian genocide of 1915 also known as the Armenian Massacres and by Armenians as the Great Crime was the Ottoman government's systematic extermination of its minority Armenian subjects from their historic homeland in the territory constituting the present-day Republic of Turkey. It took place during and after World War I and was implemented in two phases: the wholesale killing of the able-bodied male population through massacre and forced labor, and the deportation of women, children, the elderly and infirm on death marches to the Syrian Desert.  The total number of people killed as a result has been estimated at between 1 and 1.5 million. Other indigenous and Christian ethnic groups such as the Assyrians, the Greeks and other minority groups were similarly targeted for extermination by the Ottoman government, and their treatment is considered by many historians to be part of the same genocidal policy; (d) the evil Holocaust perpetrated by the German Nazis, against the Jewish people; nine million Jews resided in Europe before the Holocaust, approximately two-thirds were killed in Nazi Extermination camps located throughout Europe; (e) Khmer Rouge genocide in Cambodia during the 1970s, led by the tyrant, a Cambodian named Pol Pot.

A somber and daunting genocides in history reads like a doomsday list on Wikipedia

Assad, held responsible for the Syrian genocides, is now included in the death list. Nevertheless, Assad has the additional distinction of joining a short list of tyrants to use deadly chemical weapons to kill civilians - his evil comrades are Adolf Hitler and Saddam Hussein.

Of course, opponents of Syrian retribution have an easy position to defend. They claim that any US attack against the Assad regime will engage our nation in a conflict where our involvement may not significantly change the outcome of the conflict.  Maybe opponents of intervention are right, but doing nothing can't be "right", either. 

Looking to the future, we can only use the past as an indicator of how doing nothing in the face of genocides creates centuries of unresolved anger.  Let's support President Obama, who is dedicated to doing something to prevent future genocides by evil leaders who will find the easy use of chemical weapons can quickly prevent uprisings. We must show the world how any leader who engages in genocide will receive justice.  There are plenty of reasons to support a retribution against Assad in Syria, but all of them are difficult to put into a bumper sticker or sound bite.  

Obviously, President Obama must make a convincing argument to a justifiably reluctant American public, who have every reason to resist Syrian involvement.  

But, we certainly don't want any other Assad's killing civilians because, eventually, left unchallenged, that's exactly what will happen.

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