Advertisement

Art Callaham: Situation in Syria a very complex one

September 08, 2013|By ART CALLAHAM

This Syria “thing” really has me perplexed. Really, it has me frightened. I’m frightened because our nation and our nation’s leaders do not seem to have a direction or a plan to deal with this international crisis.

First, if we are to believe our intelligence agencies and world news reports, Syrians used chemical weapons two years ago during their “civil war.” International and domestic news agencies reported this incident (or according to some reports “incidents”). At that time, it was debatable as to whether the chemical weapons were used by the seated government of Syria or by the “rebel” forces seeking to overthrow the seated government. 

I have used the word “seated” to define the government in power, although there is no evidence, that I have uncovered, that the seated government was elected. The Syrian government looks more like a dictatorship. Further, the following statements about that government are purely opinion, based upon my personal research:

Regardless of who used the chemical weapons two years ago, the mere use of chemical weapons violated many international laws, treaties and human mores. Most of those laws, treaties and basic human mores are products of the carnage inflicted by chemical weapons during World War I. 

For everyone who wants to argue law and legality, I will submit, to my knowledge, the “seated” government of Syria has never signed or formally agreed to any law, treaty or human mores associated with the use of “weapons of mass destruction” or, more practically, to any law, treaty or human mores that indicate they (the Syrian government) value human life.

Moving forward from this earlier incident, a little more than a year ago, our president, speaking “off the cuff” (not using the prepared script on his teleprompter) drew a “red line” concerning the use of chemical weapons.  President Obama stated that any future use of chemical weapons would prompt a serious and significant reaction from the United States. In simple terms, the United States would not tolerate the use of chemical weapons by anyone.

Game on! A couple of weeks ago, some element in Syria once again used chemical weapons to kill more than 1,400 people. A United Nations inspection team has validated that chemical weapons were used. Further, our (U.S.) intelligence agencies have validated that the weapons delivering the chemicals were fired from bases controlled by the seated government of Syria. Red line crossed!

Now comes the conundrum. Does the President of the United States: (a) unilaterally, without the direct consent of Congress, make a military strike against the people who used the chemical weapons; (a1) a short-term missile strike; (a2) a “boots-on-the-ground,” long-term intervention; (b) ask Congress for permission to take action; (c) ask the U.N. for agreement before taking any action; (d) punt, and take no action; (e) take or not take an action that is a combination of any of the above actions? (I have certainly not listed all possible scenarios, but I believe you get the point — this is a very complex issue.)

Some would ask: Whose red line is it, the United States’ or the president’s? Regardless of whose, where is the plan for action if a red line is crossed? When and where were the efforts to secure whatever approvals and/or support from Congress/allies/the international community before this most recent incident involving chemical weapons? Nearly a year transpired between establishing the red line and the crossing of it. Having no plan is a plan to fail.

The eloquent comic strip character Pogo Possum said it best: “We have met the enemy and he is us.” This whole Syria thing might be more about leadership and less about chemical weapons. At this moment, we seem to have no leadership at all.

But wait, there’s more. Every Democrat and every Republican (so it seems if you watch all of the news shows) has an opinion on the proper course of action, and few agree. Even the president, the vice president and the secretary of state (all of the same party), seem to have varied opinions on the proper action. I’m sure Americans and the international community (friend or foe) wonder what’s going on.

I’m frightened that a terrorist group, noting the United States’ apparent lack of leadership or lack of a consensus on an appropriate plan of action, will take the opportunity to launch an attack against us or our close allies.  Meanwhile, it is apparent to me that our leadership, both congressional and presidential, is in over their collective heads. 

Art Callaham is a community activist and president of the Washington County Free Library Board of Trustees.



Advertisement
The Herald-Mail Articles
|
|
|