In a way that was very unlike Bush, Obama stated that he has not made a decision on military action in Syria, but he said that any response would be short, and not involve troops on the ground.
President Obama said, “We’re not considering any open commitment. We’re not considering a boots on the ground approach.” What the president wants is a narrow response that is designed to deal with the Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons. These were the right comments to make to reassure a country that is still reeling from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that he isn’t going the cowboy route of George W. Bush.
Obama also said that no final decision has been made on a possible strike against Syria, but it is clear that the president is trying to make the humanitarian case that the use of chemical weapons will not be tolerated. By declassifying and releasing the information about the Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons, the president is providing real evidence of an atrocity that has killed more than 1,000 Syrians.
Some on the left will not be satisfied with a president who is presenting real evidence and trying to build a consensus for a very limited military response. They will scream “warmonger”, even though there is no war. They will ignore the nearly century long history of international law prohibiting the use of chemical weapons. They will ignore all facts, because to them any president who uses military force in any way is a warmonger.
President Obama isn’t proposing war. He is calling for a response to one of the worst kinds of atrocities that a leader can commit against his/her own people. Those who can’t see the difference between opposing the use of chemical weapons and engaging in actual war aren’t advocates for peace. They are isolationists who are hiding behind the cause of peace.
Those who think Obama is a warmonger are asking America to ignore the reality that a ruthless individual used saran gas against his own people in the suburbs of Damascus. They give the impression that they are willing to stand up for the cause of peace as long as they can ignore the thousands of deaths caused by what many view as the ultimate human rights violation.
I do not support wars. I am not calling for war with Syria, but the global community can’t allow the message to be sent around the world that the use of chemical weapons will be tolerated.
Can a leader who is committing war crimes with chemical weapons be stopped without military action? This is the impossible question that President Obama is currently wrestling with.
Innocent people may die if the United States launches a limited military strike against Syria, but it is a certainty that many more Syrians will die if the world stands by and does nothing.