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Too Much Uncertainty in Syria

Cross-posted on

President Obama is on the verge of making the biggest mistake of his presidency.  If he chooses to launch a military strike on Syria, disaster would strike with it.  Recently, we published a story about how UN inspectors had no conclusive knowledge about the use of chemical weapons.  Since publication two days ago, things have changed and the UN inspectors have confirmed that some form of chemical weapons had been used in Syria.  However, the question still remains as to who was responsible: Assad? Al-Qaeda? Other terrorist networks? An unknown militant group?

We do not know, and its unlikely that we will know.  President Obama, however, seems somewhat confident.

“We have concluded that the Syrian government in fact carried these out,” Obama said in an interview with “NewsHour” on PBS. “And if that’s so, then there need to be international consequences.”

Yet in the very next paragraph of this news article, doubt was expressed by other white house and national security officials.

 However, multiple U.S. officials used the phrase “not a slam dunk” to describe the intelligence picture – a reference to then-CIA Director George Tenet’s insistence in 2002 that U.S. intelligence showing Iraq had weapons of mass destruction was a “slam dunk” – intelligence that turned out to be wrong.

Not to sound entirely repetitive from the last article, but are they completely ignoring the fact that, much like Iraq, we have no solid evidence that it was the Syrian army/government/regime that used the weapons?  Yes, Assad and the Syrian government are capable of using these weapons.  Yes, they have done horrific, obscene, and despicable things to the Syrian people.  However, the U.S. government’s sole justification for a military strike appears to hinge on the Syrian government’s chemical weapon use.  And the Assad regime’s direct involvement cannot be confirmed, and a strike seems imminent.  Obama appears to have pulled a page out of George W. Bush’s playbook.

The Syrian people’s interests should, at the very least, be considered when calling for a military strike.  However, the U.S. government seems to be more focused on our interests.  Sound familiar?

WASHINGTON — The White House says President Barack Obama’s decision on a possible military strike against Syria will be guided by America’s best interests, suggesting the U.S. may act alone if other nations won’t help.

National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said Thursday that Obama believes there are core U.S. interests at stake in Syria. She said countries who violate international norms about chemical weapons must be held accountable.

The UK Parliament recently refused to endorse a military strike against Syria, and public approval of a military strike is less than supportive.  A recent HuffPost poll showed only 25% polled support an airstrike.

A knee-jerk response to a situation that the U.S. still has shown to know very little about could be disastrous.  If he were to authorize a military strike against Syria with the knowledge we have from the news today, Barack Obama would likely be making the worst decision of his presidency.

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