President Obama spoke candidly to the American public during last night’s State of the Union address in Washington where he made several moral arguments for the United States to intervene militarily through air strikes in Syria and confront the Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons that reportedly led to over 1,400 Syrian recent deaths in a bloody sectarian civil war which has divided the Middle East and sparked fears about the unintended consequences of the United State using force to carry out justice.
Obama told the American public that “we know the Assad regime was responsible” and “the facts cannot be denied” concerning the August 21st chemical weapons attacks on Syrians in suburbs outside of Damascus, the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world.
“In the days leading up to August 21st, we know that Assad’s chemical weapons personnel prepared for an attack near an area where they mix sarin gas. They distributed gasmasks to their troops. Then they fired rockets from a regime-controlled area into 11 neighborhoods that the regime has been trying to wipe clear of opposition forces” Obama explained.
Obama said that by failing to act against Assad, chemical weapons will be a “danger to our security” and the Assad regime will see no reason to stop using them.
That is a tough argument to make.
Following the Obama administration’s war drumming in the aftermath of the August 21st chemical attacks in Syria, the Assad regime has been facing more international scrutiny under a spotlight that is expected to grow hotter in the days ahead.
The Assad regime is not safely positioned to quietly deploy even more chemical weapons with the world community watching the regime’s actions more closely.
Deploying more chemical weapons against opposition forces in Syria won’t automatically occur if the United States fails to act militarily because more chemical weapons violations unleashed in a future attack would surely lead to a wider international condemnation, a stronger military response, and the automatic overthrow of the Assad regime.
Obama has maintained that the United States military intervention in Syria should not be aimed at overthrowing Syrian President Assad and yet his administration has promoted a confusing war blueprint in Syria that emphasizes a “limited” attack aimed at deterring Assad from using chemical weapons, degrading his regime’s ability to use then, and making it clear to the world that the U.S. will not tolerate their use.
A future airstrike against symbolic targets (planes, air defense systems, defense buildings, etc.) in Syria could provoke a wider war with neighboring countries in the Middle East and fracture international alliances, leading to unforeseen consequences that may involve a wider conflict in the region that involves al Qaeda, Sunnis, and Shiites.
Obama suggested that if the ban on chemical weapons is not enforced, it will embolden more tyrants to use chemical weapons and “over time, our troops would again face the prospect of chemical warfare on the battlefield.”
And yet he also admitted that America is not the world’s policeman.
“Terrible things happen across the globe, and it is beyond our means to right every wrong” Obama said.
Obama explained that he had asked the leaders of Congress to postpone a vote to authorize the use of force while the U.S. pursues a diplomatic path and attempts to challenge the Syrian government without using U.S. airstrikes.
“I’m sending Secretary of State John Kerry to meet his Russian counterpart on Thursday, and I will continue my own discussions with President Putin. I’ve spoken to the leaders of two of our closest allies, France and the United Kingdom, and we will work together in consultation with Russia and China to put forward a resolution at the U.N. Security Council requiring Assad to give up his chemical weapons, and to ultimately destroy them under international control” Obama said.
Describing the United States as “the anchor of global security”, Obama indicated that he has ordered the military to maintain their current posture to keep the pressure on Assad, and to be in a position to respond if diplomacy fails.
Obama said in closing that he believes that the U.S. should act against Syria.
“But when, with modest effort and risk, we can stop children from being gassed to death, and thereby make our own children safer over the long run, I believe we should act.”