Team America: Syria Police?
Article: Aidan McNab – Contributor
It appears that President Barack Obama has heard, and will heed, the will of the people. Diplomacy is the new route Washington will take. After beating the war drums for the last few weeks, Bashar al-Assad will be given the opportunity to hand over his chemical weapons arsenal to the international community and avoid American military strikes.
The war in Syria has been raging for over two years and nearly 100,000 people have been killed so far. It has been difficult to pick a side. The brutality of the Syrian administration’s crackdown has been stomach wrenching, but the rebel forces fighting the Syrian president include among their ranks the al-Nusra Front, a militant group affiliated with al-Qaeda.
However, with the recent use of chemical weapons, allegedly by Assad, to many, picking a side has become less difficult.
How does Obama know that Assad did, in fact, use chemical weapons? According to the BBC, the U.S. claims to have satellite images showing that rockets were launched from “government held areas,” and, an hour and a half later, there were reports that chemical weapons had in fact been used. Also, according to communications intercepted by the U.S., a senior Damascus official “confirmed chemical weapons were used” and expressed concern about UN inspectors—so says the Obama administration.
With this in mind, the President addressed the American people on August 31 and made the case for military action to punish the Syrian regime for breaking international law. He said he’d seek congressional approval, but said that he was, “comfortable going forward without the approval of the UN Security Council.”
It appeared the bombs were about to drop.
But who wants that?
In a Reuters/Ipsos poll conducted from Sep. 5 to the 9, 63 per cent of Americans polled were opposed to an American intervention, with only 16 per cent in favour.
Americans don’t want another war. There is a bi-partisan feeling that this is not America’s fight. It’s not as if people are compassionless and uncaring when confronted with the photos of Syrian’s writhing on the floor unconscious in agony. It’s that policing the world costs money—money that for the last 6 years, Americans have been told they don’t have.
They’re going without food stamps and school lunches. The Camden New Jersey has cut their police force by half and people in Detroit wait almost an hour, on average, for a 911 response.
After the “sequester,” intervening in a civil war that is no domestic threat to the U.S. seems like an idea that is utterly detached from the current American reality of cuts, cuts and more cuts. If you’re telling the American people that you don’t have the money to take care of business at home, why would they want to get involved somewhere else?
This proposed action is, according to the Commander in Chief, about upholding international law. If his administration wanted to get involved for humanitarian purposes, they would have. They’ve had two years.
But Ban Ki Moon, Secretary General of the United Nations, says that without UN approval, military strikes launched by the United States would be illegal.
To go forward with military action in the interest of upholding international law, when that military action is, in itself, illegal, defeats its own purpose.
The U.S. ought to be a team player and a global citizen, not a rogue enforcer. If the UN Security council is paralyzed in responding to the crisis due to Assad’s allies Russia and China, then it’s not on the United States. No one will blame them for the Syrian lives lost. However, if American missiles start flying toward Damascus, then it’s Obama’s war and this chaotic disaster becomes America’s problem.