The warmongers aren’t going to like this, but the White House’s announcement that Syria has used chemical weapons doesn’t mean a Bush style regime change.
In a statement the White House committed to arming the Syrian rebels:
Following on the credible evidence that the regime has used chemical weapons against the Syrian people, the President has augmented the provision of non-lethal assistance to the civilian opposition, and also authorized the expansion of our assistance to the Supreme Military Council (SMC), and we will be consulting with Congress on these matters in the coming weeks. This effort is aimed at strengthening the effectiveness of the SMC, and helping to coordinate the provision of assistance by the United States and other partners and allies. Put simply, the Assad regime should know that its actions have led us to increase the scope and scale of assistance that we provide to the opposition, including direct support to the SMC. These efforts will increase going forward.
(That sound you hear off in the distance is Darrell Issa weeping as his “scandal” spotlight gets turned off.)
In an earlier statement, Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications Ben Rhodes announced confirmation that the Syrian government had used chemical weapons on its own people:
Following a deliberative review, our intelligence community assesses that the Assad regime has used chemical weapons, including the nerve agent sarin, on a small scale against the opposition multiple times in the last year. Our intelligence community has high confidence in that assessment given multiple, independent streams of information. The intelligence community estimates that 100 to 150 people have died from detected chemical weapons attacks in Syria to date; however, casualty data is likely incomplete. While the lethality of these attacks make up only a small portion of the catastrophic loss of life in Syria, which now stands at more than 90,000 deaths, the use of chemical weapons violates international norms and crosses clear red lines that have existed within the international community for decades. We believe that the Assad regime maintains control of these weapons. We have no reliable, corroborated reporting to indicate that the opposition in Syria has acquired or used chemical weapons.
Before anybody gets all crazy paranoid and screams that this confirms that Obama is just like Bush, there is one big difference. President Obama took a lot of flak from the hawks on the left and right, but he waited for the evidence before he acted. Unlike George W. Bush, this president isn’t manufacturing evidence as justification for a war that he wants.
The sad part is that the Bush administration’s lies have even managed to stain the humanitarian justification for action even when a regime is using chemical weapons on its own people. The fact that Bush has sown a generation of doubt about foreign policy intervention has been, and likely was, one of the reasons why President Obama has been so cautious.
The hawks are giddy over this announcement from the White House. They want airstrikes. They want action, but it is a certainty that the president will stick to his own doctrine that liberation isn’t achieved at the barrel of a U.S. soldier’s gun. This administration will likely work with international community on a no-fly zone, and increase their aid to the Syrian rebels.
We tried the regime change thing under Bush, and now Iraq is selling their oil to China.
At times like these it is a comfort to know that the shoot first, make up your own questions later presidency of George W. Bush has been replaced by the current administration’s consistency policy of support for democracy and humanitarian intervention.
Assad must go, but the fact that it won’t be done through a Bush style regime change is a good thing for Syria, the United States, and the rest of the world.
Mr. Easley is the managing editor. He is also a White House Press Pool and a Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association