Re "Senate panel supports U.S. strike on Syria," Sept. 5
It's time to call everyone's bluff on the Syrian chemical issue to smoke out the contending parties. Whether it be Bashar Assad's regime, the rebels, the U.S. and its allies, Arab states, the Russians or the Iranians, all claim they are against chemical weapons use in Syria. Leaving aside the wink-wink involved — obviously, some party (think the Assad regime) used the weapons in the August attack — let's put the representations to the test.
Washington should go before the United Nations Security Council and present a resolution that calls for a U.N.-executed elimination that would remove all chemical weapons from the combat zone. The Syrian government should not object. After all, it claims it would never use chemical weapons against its people. Furthermore, the Assad regime has every incentive to prevent the rebels from capturing the arsenal, which only elimination can ensure. The rebels claim no interest in the arsenal. Moscow and Tehran should go along, given their proclaimed stances. Ditto other concerned nations that support the rebels.
The resolution would be a test of sincerity, exposing for all to see who are the hypocrites and who are not, while relieving Syria of the deadly brew — in the unlikely event it goes along.
The needs of 2 million Syrian refugees should not be ignored. They actually provide the U.S. an opportunity to punish the Assad regime without the need for an attack, which won't win over the Arab world.
The money spent on a military strike should instead go toward providing food, shelter and medical care for Syria's refugees and displaced persons. This would send a far more powerful message than a strike. Assad and his supporters would remain fanatical despots and be embarrassed by the response of America and hopefully other Western nations.
For the U.S. to respond this way would show a completely different aspect of the American people, likely an aspect that more truly represents our values.
Since striking Syria would help the rebels, claiming that the U.S. is not inserting itself into Syria's civil war is nonsense. In the absence of the civil war, a military strike might be a "last resort" alternative, but in this case Assad should be held accountable in court as a war criminal.
Given the Syrian relationship with Russia, China and others, it is understandable why an economic blockade is probably not feasible, yet there is simply no discussion of remedies other than a military strike. Syria's action makes it no more of a threat to our national security than before.
Assad may be thumbing his nose at the "civilized" world, but if the only possible response is a military strike, the "civilized" adjective may be inappropriate.
If a Nobel Peace Prize laureate makes the case for killing people to punish someone who killed people, then I know of thousands of candidates for next year's prize.