Syria is a clusterfuck right now, plain and simple. In what is now a 2-year old civil war, more than 120,000 people have been killed in the country. On one side is a dictator opposed to any overly drastic changes to the government, and is willing to kill any citizen that stands in the way. On the other side, the opposition forces want the dictator removed for power in favor of a more democratic government. After many leaked stories of Syrian government executions and torture of its citizens, much of the world has placed themselves behind the opposition, including long time ally Turkey. Others, such as Iran, stand behind Assad to the extent of sending combat troops to help reinforce the Syrian Army. Russia, while officially a politically neutral country, has been arming the Syrian army because of arms contracts signed prior to the war, much to the dismay of western countries.
Regardless of all the facts, it’s a complicated situation, as any Civil War would be. Even the western countries supporting the opposition forces – they have only done so implicitly by condemning the torture and executions by the Assad regime, and “silently” arming the opposition rebels. Many people and nations look at Syria as a proxy war of Iran versus Western democracies (not so much a proxy for Iran I’d argue, as they’ve already put their hand directly in the war). It’s not a conflict the leaders of the western world exactly want to jump right into.
The latest piece of this complicated puzzle that has been dominating the news the past 2 weeks has been the highly speculated usage of chemical weapons by the Assad regime against the opposition. The usage of chemical weapons is “illegal” by the world standards of modern warfare, but more specific to the United States, was specifically mentioned by President Obama as being a line that we cannot let be crossed. Well now that the line has been crossed, Obama has not actually done anything – not to much surprise, but to much criticism. Take this Wall Street Journal op-ed for example, where the author simply questions the entire tenure of the Obama administration by questioning its foreign policy, deeming it a failure as a whole, and citing Syria as exhibit A. This mindless rhetoric need not tearing apart – most sensible people will know this is the idiotic rhetoric of a PPA (political pundit asshole).
In retrospect, of course, it is easy to tear any decision apart (see here). The presidents plan for right now though, appears to be the correct one. The president made an empty threat in an attempt to deter a maniacal dictator from using chemical weapons, and it failed. It was worth a shot. What’s not worth it would be to make good on that threat and turn to military actions against a country that poses no direct threat to our own security. Instead, turn the case over to the world court and wait for a consensus among its leaders. If the world unanimously decides Syria has taken its civil war far enough and can figure out a plan to end the war and return the country to the people with little to no outside influence, then so be it. But it is not the responsibility of America, or Obama, to fix this. To infer otherwise makes you an asshole.