President Obama’s Second Chance To Strike Syria For Use Of Chemical Weapons
Over the past seven years the one issue I most disagreed with President Obama about was his failure at dealing a blow to Syrian President Assad for his use of chemical weapons. Obama first made a correct assessment that this matter constituted a red line in international affairs and with international law.
International law is clear about the seriousness with which the use of chemical weapons should be viewed. Using chemical arms is considered a war crime and banned under international treaties, including the Chemical Weapons Convention, the Geneva Protocol and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.
Even though I felt Obama had a sincere desire to show the world that this matter could not be left unaddressed I also fault him for seeking some type of congressional consensus instead of just acting given the facts he had obtained. The lack of spine and resolve from both sides of the political aisle to back a military strike of significant proportions was simply appalling to witness. Furthermore, I do believe that Russian President Putin read into Obama’s lack of resolve a weakness that he then used to further his own goals in Ukraine.
I grant there was a great deal of emotion about this matter as evidenced on my Facebook page.
One of ‘friends’ at the time offered the most vile commentary laced with cuss words. He was so out of bounds I let him go from my list. He was the husband of the executor who dealt with James and myself for the home we inherited. Over the years I had a lot of political conversations with the older man but something about my taking a determined stand over chemical weapons sent him over the edge.
I wonder what he now thinks as the news over the past days proves what happens when we allow international thugs to go unpunished. Once again there are many reports of Assad, in defiance of the agreement made with Russia and the U.S., using these wretched weapons.
The Israeli newspaper Haaretz, apparently relying on a government source, reported May 2 that Assad’s forces used sarin gas last month against Islamic State fighters after they attacked two Syrian air force bases east of Damascus. Stockpiles of this deadly gas were supposed to have been removed from Syria in 2014.
Given the international silence, Israeli officials are said to fear that Assad will keep striking with the banned weapons. “With the continuation of fighting in Syria, it is reasonable to assume that the regime won’t hesitate to use these weapons again, especially after already having done so . . . without any reaction,” an Israeli source told me.
The alleged use of sarin is another sign that Assad appears ready to breach any diplomatic efforts to de-escalate the war. In recent weeks, his forces, backed by Russia, have struck a pediatric hospital in Aleppo run by Doctors Without Borders and a U.S.-backed humanitarian group in Idlib called Syria Civil Defense.
Chemical weapons have become part of “the new normal” in Syria, according to a report in February by the Syrian American Medical Society. The group said that in 2015, there were 69 chemical weapons attacks in Syria, mostly chlorine bombs dropped by Assad’s air force.
In August 2013 I wrote the following. I repeat the words today–and now they have even more weight given what is being reported from Syria.
It is not easy being president under the best of circumstances. There are always partisan attacks and roadblocks along the way. (We) must demonstrate to future generations what resolve and determination in pursuit of international justice looks like.
Make no mistake that justice is required with this matter of Syria using chemical weapons. Assad crossed a line that can not be tolerated. If some around the world show lack of will to push back against his use of chemical weapons then let it be the United States to again prove that we can carry the burden and meet the requirements demanded by history.