by: Timothy Villareal on August 31st, 2013 | 16 Comments »
Yesterday, before the British House of Commons voted against British participation in any Western military intervention in the wake last week’s sarin-mustard cocktail gasattacks in the northern suburbs of Damascus, protesters gathered in London to demonstrate. The protesters indignantly shouted “Hands off Syria! Hands off Syria!”
Yet the complicated question that I would like to have answered from President Obama, which he did not address in his White House press conference, is this: How exactly can the U.S., along with the French, prevent Assad and his henchmen from committing more atrocities, capture them dead or alive, and if alive, bring them before the International Criminal Court, and all without inadvertantly empowering the Al-Qaeda affiliated Syrian opposition groups? Complicated, indeed.
The question I would like to have answered from the London protesters, and those on this side of the pond with a similar outlook, is much more basic: How would you feel if you and your family were gassed by a brutal dictator as major world powers sat back and did nada?
The questions of exactly what to do in the wake of the Syrian gas attacks, and how, are excruciatingly difficult, but a simplistic “Hands off Syria!” is nothing but a signed, sealed and delivered memo from the Western liberal camp that Bashar al-Assad should have a free hand to gas as many men, women and children as he damn well pleases. If the reality of over 1,400 Syrian men, women and children awoken in their sleep by explosions of poison gas that attacked their entire nervous systems, and which then suffocated them to death, is not a sufficient threshold for international intervention what would be? 14,000 sarin gas murders? 140,000 sarin gas murders?
President Obama has not yet laid out anything that resembles a coherent post-chemical weapons massacre strategy to the American people and the Congress, but simple assertions that any Western response to this chemical weapons atrocity is somehow untoward sends an unmistakable message to Bashar al-Assad: Kill as many of the people in your country that you think you own as you like, we just don’t give a damn.
The tide of one-note dissent that we have seen since the Syrian chemical weapon attacks ought to quickly give way to a genuine debate about policy options, including the crucial question of how to respond to Iran’s recent saber-rattling. As reported by the Wall Street Journal:
Officials from Iran, Syria’s chief ally, said publicly for the first time that U.S.-led strikes on Syria would provoke retaliation on Israel. “Any attack on Syria would burn down Israel,” Iranian news media reported Maj. Gen. Hassan Firouzabadi, chief of staff of Iran’s armed forces, as saying.
So let’s get this straight: a U.S.-led humanitarian intervention in Syria intended to stop a murderous dictator from gassing innocent civilians would be so morally offensive to Iranian General Hassan Firouzabadi that he would want to burn down Israel.
Make no mistake, the intent of such a statement is to hold the entire world political hostage to a cult of mass murder.
There is nothing inconsistent, morally or strategically, about pressing for a Middle East nuclear weapons-free zone, which includes bringing Israel into the NPT, and urging President Obama to give the Israeli government the bunker-busting bombs and aircraft that country needs to prevent psychopath Iranian generals from getting their hands on nukes.
The world is too complex for one-note dissent on Syria/Iran policy.