A Syrian Game of Chess

And the Syrian chess game continues. While President Obama looks to jet off on another campaign blitz (like he knows how to do anything else) to convince a disgruntled America to attack Syria for no good reason, the Foreign Ministers of Russia and Syria have announced a deal to put all of Syrian’s chemical weapons under international control in hopes of stopping the attack. It seems like a smart move on the account of all parties to seriously consider this deal, but there is still a high amount of tension, not to mention some very key issues that have to be dealt with in the wake of this proposal.

First and foremost, this was not a deal set by Russian President Vladamir Putin and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. This was a deal discussed and struck by their respective Foreign Ministers, so whether that means either president even supports such a proposal, is still unclear, especially with Assad on record threatening the United States to “expect everything” in retaliation if we move forward with an attack. So far, the silence of by both presidents speaks volumes for where they may or may not stand on this issue. Besides, the Syrian civil war wasn’t because of chemical weapons to begin with. It was about Assad’s leadership and the fact the the “rebels” no longer wanted him in power. This whole chemical weapons thing only started when President Obama opened his mouth about it. To me, the whole situation seems to be a simple case of political posturing, nothing more. Assad and his government (as well as the rebels, thanks to us) have plenty of other weapons at their disposal to continue this war for some time.

Now, will President Obama mention any of this on his publicity tour over the next two days, or will he completely ignore it to continue pushing the attack simply because Assad presumably crossed a red line that President Obama denies drawing over the use of chemical weapons. My bet is he’ll ignore it because it doesn’t fit with the narrative that Assad deserves to die for his presumed war crimes. The problem is, he still hasn’t provided verifiable and definitive proof that Assad was behind the chemical attacks (as there is still the looming possibility that it was the rebels in a cat-and-mouse attempt to force us to attack), or that the number of people they claimed to have been killed is at all accurate. It’s all classified secrets that only the highest powers are privy to. Do we really need another war based on sketchy intelligence briefs? If the president really cared about the use of chemical weapons, and their sanctioning of such devices, this should be a clear talking point when discussing the possibilities of war (no matter how limited the president, or the Secretary of State claims they’ll be). However, President Obama is extremely stubborn and if he wants something to happen, it will happen, no matter what anyone says or what he has to do to make it so, even if it means going against the majority opinion, which in this case isn’t just a local majority against it, but a global one at that.

So given that striking Assad over the use of chemical weapons won’t do anything to actually stop the war (and thus end civilian casualties), what is President Obama really looking to accomplish with all of this? As I mentioned in an earlier post, if the president does decide to attack (whether it’s with the support of Congress or not), Assad will retaliate. Whether that’s against the United States, an ally or bordering country is beside the point. President Obama will, in effect, put other people’s lives in danger, lives that previously were not in harms way, including that of all Americans. Is President Obama willing to risk the lives of millions of innocent people because of the deaths of what the administration claims to be thousands of people in the middle of a civil war that we really have nothing to do with? Now I’m not saying killing that many innocent people is acceptable; these are human lives after all. But according to Wikipedia, the number of civilian deaths during the American Civil War numbered around 50,000. This is war, not pat-a-cake; there are always going to be unnecessary deaths and collateral damage. If President Obama feels the need to aid those civilians that have been caught in the cross-fire, who have no skin in the game for either side (basically, those that have been evacuated to other territories for safe harbor), I would have no beef with that except for the fact that we have no money to do such a thing. But to help and/or support either Assad or the rebels, or more to the point, to cry over the use of chemical weapons and pretending it is the only reason for the war, is political posturing at it’s worst. It’s all a game, and one that will end up hurting a lot more people in the long run than it will actually help in the short term.

The best play for President Obama here would be to step back, tell Syria that we are done, remove all aid from anyone and everyone involved and see what happens. We’ve stuck our noses where they shouldn’t belong plenty of times in the last decade, and seeing as how we’re still in Afghanistan (years after we should have pulled out), how screwed Egypt is after we helped bring down that leader, and what happened with Iraq, it’s amazing how how anyone can justify continuing to do the exact same thing and expect different results? Isn’t that the basic definition of insanity? It’s hard to believe that anything the government does nowadays is in the best interest of our nation and the consensus over the past few weeks from home and around the world seems to be strikingly clear: “Sorry, Mr. President. We aren’t buying what you’re selling. It’s time to get out and stay out.”

President Obama should set his ego aside and take heed. Only that would be in the best interest of the men and women he is sworn to protect—Americans.


UPDATED 9/9/2013, 6:15 p.m.:

It turns out the President did, in fact, mention Russia and Syria’s possible deal during his trek through the television today, and that it could keep the United States from striking. Whether it means anything substantial or not is up to debate. We’ll have to wait and see how this plays out over the next few days.

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