The United States and Russia forged a deal in Geneva on Saturday, September 14, 2013, that will force Syria to turn over a list of all of the chemical weapons the country has by the end of next week, and allow weapons inspectors to enter the country to look for chemical weapons by November. The ultimate goal is to have all of Syria’s chemical weapons destroyed by the middle of 2014. This deal comes after three days of what were no doubt intense discussions between U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. This agreement will likely be approved by the United Nations Security Council.
This move comes after President Obama spoke to the nation on Tuesday and hinted that military strikes against Syria, which would have been unilateral, were still possible, though not as likely as they had been earlier in the month. He had agreed to wait and allow Congress to vote on the resolution, but only after realizing that the majority of Americans opposed military action in Syria, and that they did not want a declaration of military action by the president without any other nation supporting us. In a recent Rasmussen poll, only 27% of those surveyed favored military action, while 59% were opposed.
What citizens of every nation know is that the use of chemical weapons resulting in the deaths of thousands of people is unacceptable. Making matters worse is the evidence that the Assad regime used these weapons against thousands of Syrians, forcing millions more to flee. One of the duties a government has is to protect its citizens, and violating this trust in such a tragic way offends us all. Where the people of the US and President Obama differed is in what action we should take.
In addition, the U.S. and Russia do not agree on what happens next if Syria fails to comply. Even after today’s monumental announcement, President Obama is not ruling out future military strikes as a “consequence” for failure to comply. “If diplomacy fails, the United States remains prepared to act.”
The hypocrisy here results from Obama’s vehement comments as a senator against the Bush Administration’s actions in Iraq and Afghanistan. Secretary Kerry is famous for speaking before Congress upon his return from Vietnam against the war, branding him a traitor in the eyes of some of his fellow veterans.
Russia, on the other hand, does not want to consider a use of force. Foreign Minister Lavrov wants the United Nations to be notified of any violations and then enforce sanctions instead of military action.
Aside from not having the support of Russia or Great Britain, there is the question of why Syria? We did not invade Sudan, we did not invade the Congo, and we did not invade the former Yugoslavia. We do not always go into every country facing a civil war, but why are we so interested in Syria? They are not the largest oil producing country out there, so it is not economic.
The other frightening danger is that Syria will just give the chemical weapons to yet another country. It will be interesting to see if the weapons Syria currently has are the same ones Iraq had that disappeared before the US invasion. Israeli intelligence reported that Iraq had the weapons of mass destruction, or WMDs, but by the time we arrived, the weapons were gone. Did these weapons end up in Syria?
The good part is that for now, the U.S. is not going to take military action in Syria. Perhaps this will give the Obama Administration time to rethink and remove such an action from consideration once and for all.