Friday, August 30, 2013

Syria: With Cameron Losing Vote in House for Joint US/UK Op, Washington Naively Goes it Alone

According to The Los Angeles Times, the United States will seemingly go it alone in terms of its air strike on Syria, now that British PM David Cameron lost a vote in the House of Commons on Thursday (August 29) authorizing an air strike on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's military forces.

COMMENT: Despite the fact that the US is war-weary after fighting on two fronts for well over a decade, not to mention its putting combating terrorism first, over economic stability, it appears that the House of Commons' "no" vote might well have been a clue for President Barack Obama.

At first blush, President Obama's goals in engaging in an air attack on Syria seem credible: deterring further use of chemical weapons; stopping terrorists from obtaining such weapons, and protecting nearby allies such as Israel and Turkey as well as US military bases in the region.

Nevertheless, as often said, "He who initiates a military engagement 'owns it,' both in the short-term and long-term." 

In point of fact, however it is described, Syria seems to be undergoing a civil war where there is no direct evidence of US interests being targeted, attacked or put into jeopardy.

Admittedly, both Turkey and Israel potentially are at risk, yet there is no reason why the US cannot, through diplomatic channels, convey a démarche, which would be conveyed to the Syrian government outlining those conditions that would constitute likely military consequences if Syria engaged in a number of actions against US interests or the allies of the US.

Although my entire career (US Marines, US Department of State and 20 years in transnational counter-terrorism) has been devoted to safeguarding people in an international environment, I truly believe that the US must concentrate on rekindling its economic stability on a global scale and not get bogged down in fighting other nations' wars or in attempting to stamp out transnational terrorism wherever it exists around the globe.

Although the Obama Administration has generally leaned toward obtaining United Nations support, even in the case of unilateral domestic issues, it is noteworthy to point out that the Administration avoids it love affair with the UN when contentious votes from Russia and China are imminent.

Very similar to the US intelligence community's making a bad call in 2003, in terms of Saddam Hussein's possession and use of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), which was later used as a basis to invade Iraq, there seemingly is no "smoking gun" in terms of the details concerning al-Assad's apparent use of chemical weapons. 

US intelligence is similarly guarded. There is no proof that al-Assad, rather than a lower-level or rogue commander, was directly involved or that the attack wasn't a cynical attempt by opposition forces to draw the West into Syria's civil war, now in its third year.

Although all global citizens can be outraged by the loss of roughly 100,000 lives in Syria, it very prudent for all of us to flush out the details involved before we rush to judgment and militarily attack a sovereign nation. 

We have been wrong before, actually many times, so it is in our best interests, and Syria's, to verify, verify and verify before taking irreversible military action.