United States President Barack Obama has spoken loud and clear, and President Assad, you are officially on notice from the United States. If you are going to ruthlessly kill your own people, use locally-sourced traditional weapons like rockets, mortars and bullets launched from tanks and sharp shooters, rather than chemical or biological weapons. Apparently, that’s the humane thing to do.
According to numbers published by Human Rights Watch, more than 4300 innocent civilians have been killed since July of 2012. Many more are imprisoned where torture and depravity are common and typical. The Syrian people have long feared for their lives under their own government’s tyrannical and ruthless regime, just waiting for the next bomb to drop or tank to indiscriminately sweep entire cities, shooting at fleeing people and destroying homes and buildings.
Assad’s terror is well documented. Nobody discounts the inhumanity and bloodshed that the Assad government has unleashed upon his own people. But up until now, the United States has turned a blind eye to the atrocities. Why? Because the methods he used were traditional.
A “line in the sand” has been drawn, and the apparent use of chemical weapons instantly makes Assad’s atrocities much more grave, and according to Obama, only NOW does Assad’s tyranny deserve reprisal.
“The world set a red line. The world set a red line when governments representing 98 percent of the world’s population said the use of chemical weapons are [inaudible] and passed a treaty forbidding their use, even when countries are engaged in war.” — Barack Obama
Think about those words, and hear what Obama’s saying. The world has apparently “passed a treaty” forbidding a maniac from using chemical weapons. Tanks are fine. Rockets and mortars are cool. Round up your own people by the thousands, throw them in jail and literally torture them for the rest of their lives? Not so bad. Apparently, there is no treaty forbidding this.
But the minute Assad supposedly uses a “chemical weapon”, now we’ve got a problem. Secretary of State John Kerry told Americans that close to 1500 people were killed in chemical attacks attributed to Assad, and that is unacceptable. Innocent men, women and children were killed, even first responders became victims, he said. “We saw them gasping for air, terrified that their own lives were in danger. This is the indiscriminate, inconceivable horror of chemical weapons.”
And so the line truly has been drawn. Want to kill your own people, Assad? Make the U.S. happy and do it with tanks rather than chemicals. Because once you break out the sarin gas, then – and only then – will you arouse the humanitarian suspicions of the West.
The truth of the matter is the Syrian conflict is just that – a Syrian conflict. It’s a civil war being fought between the Syrian government and opposition rebels who have mounted their fair share of atrocities as well. Neither side is the lesser evil regardless of what position the United States takes in its John McCain-style never-ending search for the next military conflict.