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The Vote on Syria Will Be a Reflection of America’s Integrity and Character

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A sign of integrity and character is staying true, or dedicated, to a cause and it is why careful consideration is prudent before making any kind of a commitment. Even though some extremists in the Republican ranks are willing to foil America’s attempt to meet its commitment and pay its debts as promised, there are a few who understand the nation’s integrity is at stake if it reneged and defaulted on its debt commitment. The current debate about whether America should take limited military action against the Syrian government for using chemical weapons against innocent civilians in its civil war is not a matter of interfering in a sovereign nation’s internal affairs, but rather, it is this country keeping a commitment shared with 98% of the world’s governments to hold Syria accountable for violating banned chemical weapons use.

Except for warmonger conservatives seeking any opportunity to flex America’s military muscle, there are few Americans lusting to get involved in a sovereign nation’s civil war or using military force under nearly any circumstance. In fact, although the Syrian government forces are alleged to have killed 100,000 innocent Syrians using conventional weapons, President Obama has been extremely patient and prudent in resisting repeated calls to interdict on the rebel forces behalf for several valid reasons; he should be praised for using restraint. However, the President said if the Syrian government began moving around or using chemical weapons against the rebels, then they would have crossed a red line that America, or the world, could not ignore.

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The ban on chemical weapons was a commitment affirmed in 1925 according to the Geneva Protocol and it was strictly adhered to throughout World War II by both the Allied and Axis powers who did not deploy chemical weapons despite the Nazi goal of world domination. They (chemical weapons) were outlawed at the Hague convention in 1899, but Germany used them extensively during World War I and contended they were a “more humane” method of killing than “a bayonet to the gut.” But even Adolf Hitler believed using them was crossing a red line if he resisted deploying them on the battlefield (he had a different mindset when it came to using them to commit genocide in the Holocaust).

Republicans opposed to taking punitive action against Syria for using chemical weapons follow a Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush precedent of looking the other way when, for example, Saddam Hussein used chemical agents during the Iran-Iraq war and against the Kurdish population in Iraq. Apparently, President Obama is unwilling to look the other way in part because America joined 188 nations and signed the 1993 and 1997 Chemical Weapons Convention that prohibited chemical weapon production and mandates their destruction, and likely because Syria refused to sign the chemical weapons ban treaty. Just the fact that Syria did not sign the treaty in 1993 or 1997 implies they intended to use them in the future and by all accounts they did.

Likely the President, and indeed, Republicans with any knowledge of a not-so-secret agreement are aware that Syria has amassed a substantial chemical weapons cache to counter Israel’s “never acknowledged” nuclear arsenal and therein lies but one significant danger to American interests. It is true that one reason there is significant anti-American sentiment among the Muslim population is the preponderance of American military presence in the Middle East, but a rogue nation willing to use chemical weapons against their own people are unlikely to hesitate using them against Americans or her allies.

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Despite the Hague Convention (1899), Geneva Protocol (1925),the Chemical Weapons Convention (1993 and 1997), and United Nations Resolution 1540 (2004) banning countries like England from selling chemicals used to manufacture Sarin to Syria, there is absolutely no enforcement mechanism to deter a nation from using chemical weapons. It is true the United Nations can resolve to condemn a country for using chemical weapons, and 98% of the governments that signed treaties banning them can send verbal condemnations, but a country willing to use the banned weapons will hardly give heed to verbal denunciations. It is likely why the President announced his decision to take action limited in scope and duration and enlisted the U.S. Congress to help decided what America’s response will be.

Thus far, the debate about what, if any, action America should take to deter the Syrian government from using chemical weapons has been varied. The suggestions have run the gamut from all-out invasion to negotiating with Russia and China to keep Assad’s administration intact, or a limited cruise missile strike as a deterrent against future chemical weapon attacks. The President was right to bring Congress into the decision making process, but one discussion missing is the culpability of the rebel forces in the chemical weapons attacks, or the 100,000-plus civilian casualties.

It is important to remember that all the civilian casualties are because the rebels are in and around populated areas, and they are waging war against the legal Syrian government that frankly is an internal matter and not America, or any other nation’s business. There have even been accusations that rebel forces used chemical weapons, and with Syria’s substantial cache of chemical weapons and delivery methods it is not out of the realm of possibility they too are guilty of using the banned weapons. If nothing else, according to Syrian law, they are guilty of attempting to overthrow the government and without their rebellion no-one would be discussing Syria. As it is, no-one knows if they prevail what kind of government they will setup or what their position towards America or its allies in the Middle East will be, or if they will be an Islamic Iranian puppet.

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This entire Syrian episode is a very complicated affair, and there is no simple solution or it would have already been solved and the country could get back to worrying about whether Republicans are going to shut down the government or cause a credit default that are real and present dangers facing America. However, when Syria deployed chemical weapons they violated an over one-hundred year-old standard and 98% of the world’s governments, including the United Nations, have a commitment to send a powerful message that using chemical weapons is outside society’s norm and that the world, or America, cannot look the other way again. What Syria has to understand is that any action is to deter future use of banned weapons of mass destruction because if they are willing to use them against their own people, they will use them against their enemies.

 

 

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