It appears that the Assad regime was responsible for the use of chemical weapons against it own citizens, including many children. Other countries now have to decide how to respond to this, if at all. All the options range from bad to very bad – there are no good options, including do nothing.
Some have asked why is it that chemical and biological weapons represent what Obama called a red line. What is the difference between 200 killed by a mortar and 200 killed by saran gas? To the dead, there is no difference, but to the survivors there is a huge difference. Chemical and biological weapons can result in effects which carry on for years and decades – even affecting children yet to be born. That is why the use of them, especially against civilians and children, is seen as so horrifying.
In terms of responses, the preferred response would be for the UN Security Council to declare Assad a war criminal, and that he is arrested and put on trial. The problem is that Russia is blocking any meaningful action by the UN, and even if they did not veto the Security Council, it is not possible to arrest Assad if he wins the civil war – unless external military action occurs.
Now I don’t favour armed intervention in the Syrian civil war to determine the outcome. The rebels may be a cure worse than the disease, with many radical Islamists and links to terrorist organisations in their ranks.
However do you allow Assad to use chemical weapons with no consequences at all, just because Russia says so? The precedent that would set would not be a good one. If there are no consequences for a leader who uses chemical weapons, knowing the impact it will have, then the use of them will grow.
BARACK Obama says the US has concluded that the Syrian government carried out a large-scale chemical weapons attack against civilians last week.
As the Syrian opposition claims Syrian government forces used napalm in an attack on Aleppo, killing at least 10 people, the US President says the US has examined evidence of last week’s nerve gas attack in Damascus which killed hundreds and doesn’t believe the opposition fighting the Syrian government possessed chemical weapons or the means to deliver them.
Mr Obama says he hasn’t made a decision about how the US will respond.
The White House says it’s planning a possible military response while seeking support from international partners. …
The administration says it will take action against the Syrian government even without the backing of allies or the United Nations because diplomatic paralysis must not prevent a response to the chemical weapons attack outside the Syrian capital last week
I guess this means a missile strike against some military targets. It won’t change things a lot, and could even destabilise things. However doing nothing is equally unattractive. What would be nice is if they can identify the persons responsible for using the chemical weapons and target them. That would provide a good incentive for others not to use them.
Josie Pagani makes the case for intervention at Pundit.
Meanwhile Phil Goff plays silly politics:
Labour has called on the Government to make public the United States briefings received overnight on Syria. …
Labour’s foreign affairs spokesman Phil Goff said Prime Minister John Key had an obligation to share details of the briefings with Parliament and the public.
Phil Goff has been Foreign Minister. He knows he is speaking a load of crap. It is not the role of the NZ Government to release details of confidential discussions with the US Government. It is the US Government that decides whether to release its briefings, not the NZ Government. For NZ to do so would mean they would never be consulted again.
Why can’t Goff for once just not play domestic politics on what is a very serious issue?
Tags: Josie Pagani
, Phil Goff