Tuesday, September 10, 2013
How to Avoid a Nasty War in Syria
A bright spot has emerged on the eve of the 12th anniversary of 9/11 (a day I spent entirely in a TV studio giving analysis), Americans are war weary. Who wouldn’t be after a decade-plus of fighting in Afghanistan? Over $5 trillion spent on war in Iraq which produced no weapons of mass destruction but it did produce nearly 5,000 American war dead, tens of thousands of injured service men and women. So is Syria just another Iraq? What impact does it have on American security?
Syria is not Iraq for one simple reason: Syria DOES have weapons of mass destruction. It holds the world’s largest stockpile of chemical weapons outside of Russia and the U.S. And Mr. Assad’s army has been using them. But is this a threat to America?
Yes, because if America does nothing about the use of a weapon banned for nearly a century (since the end of WWI) then the message to Iran is clear. Cross all the red lines you want in building a nuclear bomb – nothing will happen to you. A nuclear Iran is a threat to Israel, America’s strongest ally in a Middle East. The surrounding countries have fragmented into fragile governments as dictators fall and sectarian (as in religious) strife has taken over. Sunnis killing Shia, Alawhites (Assad’s Muslim sect) killing Sunnis. Each scrambles for power as the weapons of war that fill warehouses in Egypt, Syria, Libya, etc.
Doing nothing could lead to bad actors getting their hands on these chemical stockpiles and other weapons, which could end up being used on the streets of America – easily smuggled in one of the millions of shipping containers imported to the USA each year.
However, an unexpected bright spot has emerged. The threat of a military strike against Assad has produced a surprise turnaround. Now Syria wants to sign the Chemical Weapons treaty – it is one of only eight countries in the world that hasn’t signed it (North Korea is another).
You can bet this would not have occurred if the President didn’t look serious about a strike (despite Congress ducking for cover.) It remains to be seen if this is just a ploy to delay a strike that would deprive a dictator of some of his toys – jets and tanks used to bomb civilians, killing over 100,000 so far. However, if it will get Syria out of the chemical weapons business, then America’s interests are well served. We’ll find out more tonight when the President addresses the nation.
I shot a TV interview on the subject of Syria yesterday. It’s short and won’t blow your gaskets but you should see it—since it’s by someone who has actually worked Syria –me! The link is here:
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