The Thin Red Line

On August 21st, Syrian President Bashar Hafez al-Assad’s regime allegedly launched a chemical weapon attack in the suburbs of Damascus, resulting in the deaths of nearly 1,500 civilians according to U.S. Intelligence.

Damascus attack

Appearing on CNN’s State of the Union, Secretary of State John Kerry revealed that blood and hair samples taken from the attack site tested positive for signatures of sarin (a Nazi developed chemical that is 26 times more deadly than cyanide).  France, Germany and Britain have since run similar tests and came to the same result.

It is understood by U.S. intelligence that the Assad regime was not successfully eliminating rebel forces from within the suburbs using traditional weapons, which led to the use of the deadly chemical.

According to U.S. and French intelligence documents, this was not the first time chemicals were used.  French intelligence confirms the account of journalists from Le Monde (a French newspaper) that sarin was used previously against opposition forces in April.

The Assad government has denied launching sarin, claiming opposition forces were responsible for the chemical attack, though Assad has not provided proof of this allegation.  However, U.S. intelligence notes that Syrian chemical weapons personnel prepared munitions just three days before the Damascus attack.

Syrians in Jordan

Using satellite imagery, French intelligence has indicated the chemical attacks originated from government-controlled land.

This is just the latest nightmare to take physical form on the streets of Syria.  The region has been in a full-blown civil war for the past 2-½ years.

Inspired by the Tunisian revolution, protests began in the country against the Assad regime in 2011.  The Syrian government responded to the initially peaceful uprising with force.

Syria Protests

Security forces have murdered, tortured, mutilated and raped civilians (including children).   A United Nations report from February confirmed 384 children alone have been killed by the regime’s security forces over a period of just ten months.

Speaking of the United Nations, since the civil war began, Syria’s biggest allies, Russia and China, have used their positions on the U.N. Security Council to protect the country from sanctions and threatened to veto any course of military intervention.

Considering from 2007 to 2010, Russia sold $4.7 billion is arms to Syria, it makes sense why the country has also been against a Syrian arms embargo.

Russia's President Putin

Understanding that a resolution will not pass the Security Council, it becomes apparent the only option is to forgo the Council altogether.  The United States executed a similar action in 1999, when the U.S. avoided the Council due to a deadlock with Russia (again) over the Kosovo War.

I understand there are those who believe the United States is not the “world police.”  Well, the real world police seem to be taking one hell of a long coffee break.

Since the revelation of the use of sarin, President Obama has been quick to respond, calling for Congress to pass a resolution allowing limited U.S. strikes on Syria. This is not a declaration of war, as I’ve seen posted on social media.

U.S. President Barack Obama speaking about Syria

The President has reached across the aisle, successfully gathering support from many high-profile Republicans, including Speaker John Boehner, House weasel Eric Cantor and even his 2008 GOP presidential opponent.

“We have to make it clear that a vote against this would be catastrophic in its consequences,” Arizona Senator John McCain said when discussing the upcoming Congressional vote on the Syria strike.  If McCain didn’t get a say in bombing something soon, he was going to launch an assault on Meerkat Manor.

Meerkat Manor by Chad Henning/Animal Planet

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, have also both spoke out in support of the President’s decision.

Let’s talk about that elephant in the room.

“This is not Iraq, and this is not Afghanistan.  This is a limited, proportional step that will send a clear message not only to the Assad regime but also to other countries that may be interested in testing some of these international norms that there are consequences.”  President Obama explained Tuesday.

“We are especially sensitive, Chuck (Secretary of Defense Hagel) and I, to never again asking any member of Congress to take a vote on faulty intelligence,” Secretary Kerry told a Senate Committee, also referencing Iraq.  “And that is why our intelligence community has scrubbed and re-scrubbed the evidence.”

John Kerry and Chuck Hagel

Again, multiple countries operating their own investigations have reached the same conclusion as the United States.

If we move forward with military intervention, the resolution passed on Wednesday by the Senate Foreign Committee is the best option.  The Senate resolution (drafted by Democrat Robert Menendez and Republican Bob Corker) supports the use of force in the region with a 60-day limitation (with an optional 30-day extension).  The resolution does not authorize boots on the ground.

“The world set a red line when governments representing 98 percent of the world’s population said the use of chemical weapons are abhorrent and passed a treaty forbidding their use even when countries are engaged in war.

Congress set a red line when it ratified that treaty.  Congress set a red line when it indicated that – in a piece of legislation titled the Syria Accountability Act – that some of the horrendous things that are happening on the ground there need to be answered for.”  President Obama recently said in Sweden.

“My credibility is not on the line.  The international community’s credibility is on the line.”

Someone should tell the world police it’s time to get back on clock.

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