Unconfirmed reports of chemical weapons have been coming out of Syria for months. I first remember hearing reports that Assad had used sarin gas, from activists and rebels inside Syria, in November and December of 2012. The United Nations and other international organizations said they would look into the claims, but nothing came of this talk. And despite President Obama’s statement that the Syrian government’s use of chemical weapons on its own people would be a “red-line” thats crossing would require US intervention, the US has been reluctant to investigate these claims or increase even non-lethal aid to the Syrian opposition forces. This week, the Israelis claimed they had proof that Syria has used chemical weapons against the rebels. The White House responded with its standard ambiguity, saying different governmental agencies suspected with “varying degrees of confidence” that the Syrian regime had utilized chemical weapons, but conclusive proof would be needed before President Obama would authorize any action. Other countries, including Britain and France, have already acknowledged the reality of chemical warfare in Syria. As a result, they have been pushing to relax the current EU arms embargo on Syria so member nations could send weapons and other military equipment to the rebels. Some US congress members, including Senator John McCain, who has been particularly outspoken on the issue, have advocated arming the Syrian rebels. He believes the “red-line” has undoubtedly been crossed but that the US should have intervened in Syria two years ago. If the US or other powerful international powers had intervened in Syria two years ago, could it have prevented the deaths of 70,000 Syrians? The displacement of millions more? The destruction of some of the oldest and most precious remains of human history? Possibly, yes. But is it worth continuing speculation, now that these lives have been lost or destroyed? Now that Aleppo, one of the oldest continually inhabited cities in the world has been reduced to rubble? No. There is no point ruminating about Syria’s past, when in its present, people continue to be tortured and killed. Millions suffer in refugee camps. Homes and history are still being destroyed. Regardless of what should have been done two years ago, it is paramount that action is taken now. There is no longer any rationale, legitimate or otherwise, for failing to intervene. Intervention does not necessarily have to be direct military intervention. All options should be on the table: increasing humanitarian aid, establishing a no-fly zone, arming rebel troops, moving Patriot missile-defense batteries from their positions in Turkey into rebel held territory in Syria, sending in foreign troops. The best solution is probably some combination of the above ideas, or some that I haven’t listed. The important thing is that, whatever form the intervention comes in, it comes. The world community has ignored the suffering of the Syrian people long enough. It is time to take action. 

One thought on “Syria

  1. Intriguing arguement for action, spanning both the left and the right. How about addressing the angst of policymakers deciding on this issue in the shadow of the Iraq decisions ?

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