Bashar al-Assad is not Adolf Hitler, although they have much in common. The Washington Post reports today that lab tests confirm that the Syrian government used sarin gas that killed 1,400 citizens. That is a massacre and human disaster.
Americans are thinking carefully about what to do about it. The options including nothing and range to full-scale war. However, specific circumstances make foreign policy and military strategy more of an art than science.
It is important to address an idea that I have been hearing these days, and that is that the military industrial complex and Department of Defense need and want another war to bolster their desire for sustaining the defense budget at a high level. While it may be true that there is constant pressure to maintain a strong defense, there is absolutely no evidence that the defense establishment lusts for war.
Surely, the Obama administration has shown restraint in confronting Syria because America finds little alignment with the Syrian government or among rebel factions.
The foothold opportunity for alignment is demonstrating intolerance for inhumane behavior that is an affront to the international agreement about chemical and biological weapons.
List of what Bashar al-Assad and Adolf Hitler have in common
“prejudice, hatred of, or discrimination against Jews for reasons connected to their Jewish heritage. A person who holds such positions is called an "antisemite". It is considered by most scholars to be a form of racism.”
"Syria Christians fear life after Assad
They worry they'll be the target of revenge attacks by Sunnis if the leader is ousted.
March 07, 2012|Alexandra Zavis
DAMASCUS, SYRIA — For 40 years, Um Michael has found comfort and serenity amid the soaring pillars and ancient icons of St. Mary's Greek Orthodox cathedral.
But as a priest offered up a prayer for peace one recent Sunday, the 70-year-old widow dabbed tears from her eyes."
2. Selective secularism
“The idea of secularism in Islam means favoring a secular state and secular society with separation of Islam and public life. Secularism in the Muslim countries refers to the ideology of promoting the secular political and social values as opposed to the Islamism. It is often used to describe the separation of public life and civil/government matters from religious teachings and commandments.”
With Assad and his government, it gets tricky. He represents on type of Muslim sect that views other Muslim sects as interlopers or inferior. He accommodates Christians to some extent to strengthen political power, and to broaden appeal for his brand of politics that is more accommodating than more radical Islamic factions.
Hitler was aligned with the Catholic church, for instance, while seeking to exterminate Jews and other sects.
"'Islam in Syria total population. Sunnis make up 74% of the total, mostly of Arab, Kurdish and Turkoman ethnicities. Shia's make up the remaining 13%: Alawites are the predominant Shia group, followed by Twelvers and Ismailis. Sunnis are mainly of the Shafi'i madhhab with pockets of Hanafi and Hanbali. Several large Sufi orders are active in the country, including the Naqshbandi tariqa, and Qadiriyya. Although not traditionally considered as Muslims, the Druze make up 3% of the total population."
Hitler systematically murdered millions of Jews, and used gas in the process. Assad and his military employ gas against communities of civilians in civil war.
“Extermination camps (or death camps) were camps built by Nazi Germany during World War II (1939–45) to systematically kill millions of people by gassing and extreme work under starvation conditions.”
4. Violation of international agreement
“Chemical and biological weapons
The international community banned the use of chemical and biological weapons after World War I and reinforced the ban in 1972 and 1993 by prohibiting the development, production, stockpiling and transfer of these weapons. Today’s advances in life sciences and biotechnology, as well as changes in the security environment, have increased concern that long-standing restraints on the use of chemical and biological weapons may be ignored or eroded.”
“New tests show Sarin nerve gas used in Syria attack, Kerry says
Secretary of State John Kerry said Sunday that fresh laboratory tests show that Sarin nerve gas was used in an Aug. 21 attack in Syria that killed more than 1,400 people, the first time U.S. officials have pinpointed the type of chemical weapon used.
In an interview with NBC's "Meet the Press," Kerry said blood and hair samples from emergency workers in east Damascus had tested positive for Sarin, a highly toxic nerve agent. He said that U.S. officials learned of the lab results in the past 24 hours, citing the evidence as yet another reason for Congress to pass President Obama's request to authorize the use of military force against the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.