Image 1 of 10: It’s a humanitarian thing: Proponents of hitting the chemical regime pledge to curb human suffering. With 100,000 dead, 1,400+ killed by a single sarin swipe -- it may alleviate civilian distress, sparing life in the long run if dictators are called up on poisoning their people. Other grizzly war-induced ways to die notwithstanding.
Image 1 of 10: Keeping up the rhetoric: Obama said chemical weapons would be a red line. He can’t eat his words now cause that would empower other potential trespassers as North Korea and Iran. US and superpower credibility is at stake, along with the impunity of 'US enemies'.
Image 1 of 10: Breeding ground for extreme Sunni militants: Although opposition coalitions such as the SNC have political sway in the rebel command, liberal forces are constantly struggling for arms and power from the Sunni militants. If the US refrains, then Salafi radicals may grow rampant, seeing a green light for a de-facto Salafi state of Syria.
Image 1 of 10: Policing the globe: The more brazenly Assad deals in his chemical arms, the more likely they are to fall into the hands of 'terrorists' who might try to use them against Israel or Western targets. It’s true that all weapons of war are destructive but these have not received the international approval stamp for war.
Image 1 of 10: Keeping it limited, no toppling of regime intended. While some fear a contained strike on weapons stockpiles could lead to a heavy entanglement, others believe the narrow strike petitioned for by Obama won’t risk the US getting caught out as in Afghanistan/ Iraq. (though should a cruise missile strike out Assad, some wouldn't complain).
Image 1 of 10: Leaving Assad unchecked would galvanize the notorious ‘axis of evil’: If the pariah President is triumphant over the rebels, it could lead to the establishment of a stronger Shia Syrian state - an ally for Iran, Iraq and Hezbollah. Syria would be partnered up with forces well-rehearsed in the arts of international terror.
Image 1 of 10: No action may embolden Assad and friends to preemptively strike. Hezbollah - arguably spoiling for a fight- has already been threatening Israel with a strike that may be not so urbane as Obama’s purports to be.
Image 1 of 10: Although handy to ward off international judgement, the US strike does not need UN backing - they didn't have it in Kosovo. The UN is largely impotent in the face of crises due to its majoritarian politics. No change would ever be effected if the world waited on international consensus.
Image 1 of 10: Above board at home: Obama is seeking congressional permission - thereby safeguarding against a major backlash from US public. Though internationally he still operates from a weakened stand, he will at least maintain domestic credibility which carries clout in the history books. (George Bush senior didn't wait on Congress before the Kuwait war).
Image 1 of 10: Nipping dictatorship in the bud: Saying a big resounding no to Middle East menaces with people’s blood on their hands - the Saddams, Gaddafis and Assads. Assad junior himself - stepping into his father's bloodied shoes - scuppered any hopes held of him being a modern leader when he violently cracked down on democracy protests in 2011.
We argued against the US cruise missile strike on Syria already, so now here's the rejoinder. Knowing that Obama is an avid follower of Al Bawaba, we thought we'd (playing devil's advocate) back him up!
Well, we can’t say the iron isn’t scorching. Should Obama go ahead and strike, here’s why it might not be such a warped or at least misguided scheme after all. Those in support say that this intervention is hardly guns blazing nor to serve as a deal breaker or game-changer. It may have no bearing on a longer drawn out affair that is Lebanon Civil War 2 or Iraq 3 but cruise missiles served up by a superpower nonetheless should not be taken lightly.
Hitting the Syrian dictator where it hurts has been the option settled on by the US who intend to signal their punitive measure for alleged use of chemical armoury that crossed America's blood red line.
With Obama faltering from his path of active attack, it seems he will wait on his Syrian strike on securing Congress’ approval. Despite US Defence Secretary announcing last week that the US was “ready to go” on a strike, no decision on the US’ involvement will be made until September 9, when Congress returns from its summer break.
Obama could serve his goals of a contained intervention with limited strikes on a handful of military targets, probably by means of cruise missiles that involve no risk to U.S. personnel.
The goal would be to impose a cost on Assad that outweighs whatever he thinks he gained by gassing hundreds of people near Damascus last week, as he is accused of doing. In launching a limited attack, Obama could hope to deter Assad from using his chemical arsenal again. Let’s not forget this is not the first time Assad and his tyrannical cohort have been accused of wielding chemical agents against the Syrian population - the poor besieged UN chemical weapons team were in Damascus to investigate three separate allegations of the Syrian regime utilising chemicals in battle.
In a region where every leader has something to say, it would do Obama good to demonstrate to the rest of the world, to Iran and other rogue states like North Korea and to vehemently anti-Israel groups such as Hezbollah, that he means what he says when it comes to red lines in the Middle East. Anyone hoping for more or a swift US-generated conclusoin to the conflict will likely be disappointed.
While Obama is prevaricating, delayed by public opinion and the involvement of Congress, there is expiry date on his intervention. The longer it takes for Obama to act, the more prepared Assad becomes.
Obama, the time is now. Check out Al Bawaba’s top reasons why you should strike Syria as soon as possible.