U.S. Allowed Saddam to use Chemical Weapons – Why is Syria Different?
Strike proposal on the table for Syria – Has the U.S. forgotten about chemical weapons used by Saddam?
“We have been very clear to the Assad regime, but also to other players on the ground, that a red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons being moved around or utilized.” – President Obama August 20, 2012
The President was clear a year ago that this would be “red line” for the U.S. which is why he is seeking congressional approval for the use of force. If the U.S. had a consistent track record of sticking to the same policy of no use of chemical weapons, then this might make sense. Have we already forgotten some of the other uses of chemical weapons which went unpunished?
Some of us might have seen a picture of Donald Rumsfeld shaking hands with Saddam Hussein on December 20, 1983. Unfortunately, recent CIA documents have been declassified which showed that Iran had reported as early as 1983 (the same year as the Rumsfeld photo) that they had been attacked by chemical weapons. They were unable to take their case to the United Nations because a bulk of the evidence was in top secret documents sent to the U.S. government’s senior intelligence officials. We actually knew about it when that photo was taken, and we let Hussein continue to pursue his war with Iran because we would benefit from his victory.
On March 16, 1988, Saddam Hussein used chemical weapons in Kurdish city of Halabja. Estimated numbers report that up to 5,000 people were killed in this attack and 75% of the victims were women and children.
Apparently if Republicans approve of this type of force, then America has no issue with it. Ronald Reagan never came out and took a stand against Saddam despite his senior intelligence officials knowing that he used chemical weapons. Where was this “red line” then? Another thing that doesn’t quite make sense is why anyone is asking Donald Rumsfeld for his insight about how President Obama is handling the situation in Syria. The very same people who were wrong about Iraq are being consulted for their thoughts on Syria. Insanity.
What kind of people would the U.S. be supporting if we strike the Assad regime? The rebel forces are mostly Sunni Muslims which are the majority in Syria. Shiite Muslims, Kurds, and Christians are the minority who support the Assad regime, this civil war stems from religious differences in the region. Al-Qaeda linked rebels attacked a Christian village in Syria on September 5 in Maaloula. Do we really think that a use of force will solve fighting among different religious sects in the Middle East? Iraq is the perfect example of what not to do and here we are, seemingly, repeating the same steps as we have before.
The Syrian rebels appear to be no better than Assad’s forces when it comes to warfare. What I am referring to is an article published on September 5th by the New York Times which has a photograph of Syrian rebels standing above men who were bounded and on their knees, covered with welts. Why would we help rebels who perform heinous acts of brutality towards their enemy? This shot was taken from a video showing 7 Syrian soldiers being executed by rebels at point blank range. These are the people that our President is proposing to help by sending in air strikes against the Assad regime.
There have been updated reports that indicate that Syrian rebels, not the Assad regime, were actually responsible for the us of chemical weapons that killed around 1,000 people. If there are conflicting reports as to who is responsible for the chemical attacks, then why is the U.S. still considering a use of force? Have we not learned our lesson from Iraq?
While President Obama did say that there would be “no boots on the ground”, there are other factors that should deter the U.S. from striking Syria. Vladimir Putin has already stated that Russia is going to stand by the Assad regime in the event of a U.S. strike, “We are already helping, we send arms.” In the event that a campaign is started against Syria, the results could escalate to all out war between several nations including Russia and Iran, essentially a no-win scenario. The only country that has publicly agreed to support the U.S. in the event of a strike is France.
So, what is the solution? Hopefully congress will actually do something useful for a change and vote this proposal down. The American public has already been vocal about their disapproval of the President’s request to strike. Protests have began outside the White House with anti-war protesters holding signs with “Peace In Syria” on them. Iraq and Afghanistan have made Americans tired of trying to intervene in the affairs of other countries.
The current situation in Syria seems all too familiar and we cannot let history repeat itself, yet again. Only when our nation is under a direct threat should we even be preparing for war, our soldiers lives should not be put on the line to resolve the constant civil wars among Middle Eastern nations. Period.