Like a waddle of penguins testing the water for predators, the International Community is slowly trying to push some first country into acting against Syria for its use of chemical weapons. At stake is the responsibility of rebuilding an already failing state as a “punishing strike,” which must be so strong that it cripples Syria’s capacity to deliver chemical weapons, will almost accurately facilitate the demise of the Assad regime. Traditionally, the US would take point and the ultimate responsibility. In the current political and economic environment, US leadership must take the form of ensuring there is a strong, broad coalition of nations willing and able to take on a near equally divided stake in the rebuilding of Syria, after the US and its military allies make a decisive strike.
That said, there is a great deal of irony in the fact that the world is both celebrating the anniversary of the “March on Washington,” which aimed to end the suppression of the disenfranchised, and desperately trying to justify the need for action against a government due to a breach of international law versus the need alleviate the oppression of a People. (We may even be going so far as to limiting our response to the Assad regime, so it does not collapse.) There is more time spent debating if military action is “legal,” which is based in treaty law, i.e. agreements that must be recalibrated periodically with the shifting the interests of states, versus enforceable domestic law, instead of honestly discussing action as part of an overall intervention. After all, any reaction to Syria’s use of chemical weapons must include a plan to deal with the broader dynamics of the civil war as action will shift the balance in power.
Finally, a minority of analysts have questioned the validity of chemical weapons use as a red line. In fact, they have even gone so far as to say chemical weapons should not be considered weapons of mass destruction. Although the chemical weapons in Syria may not kill as many people as traditional weapons and there are limitations to the military applications of chemicals weapons, these weapons of mass destruction do have a greater potential while far more disturbing chemical weapons exist, or could come into existence. More importantly, the next step up from chemical weapons is biological weapons. Looking at a worse case scenario, the fallout of such weapons could be irreversible and felt globally. Meanwhile, chemical weapons are also psychological weapons. Not only do they leave people feeling insure when it comes to fulfilling basic human needs, i.e. a drink of water or breath of air could kill you, chemical weapons, especially in the case of nerve agents, lead to agonizing deaths. As such, chemical weapons are weapons of mass torture. This is why they are considered weapons of mass destruction, why their use is forbidden, and why a crushing blow must be felt by those who would use them.
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