The U.N. has weapons. It has armored vehicles. It has chemical protective gear. It has international backing. It has everything it needs to conduct immediate investigations in hostile regions except one thing: COURAGE. If the U.N. were truly concerned with addressing a humanitarian crisis and getting to the bottom of who is responsible for a chemical attack, then nothing would have prevented investigators from entering the region and demanding Assad immediately cease hostilities in the area of the alleged attack lest he provoke international aggression. Instead, inspectors sit in a hotel for nearly a week while Assad pummels the area with artillery following the chemical attack; nearly a week to eliminate evidence; nearly a week to promise complete destruction of the area if locals cooperate. As it is, what is known about the area has already been gathered by “international sources”. Great job doing nothing, U.N. while children were convulsing to death and I certainly haven’t forgotten Obama’s “red line” bluster a year ago.
So what to do now that Assad has agreed to let U.N. inspectors in to conduct an investigation for the latest and most deadly attack. History says a lot:
“Each side in Syria’s two-year-old conflict has accused the other of using chemical weapons – an action that which would constitute a war crime under international law. Two of the alleged attacks took place in Aleppo in March and Homs in December.
An investigation looking specifically into claims of chemical weapons use in Syria was ordered by the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, in late March. The Syrian government wants the UN team to investigate only the Aleppo attack, but the UN has insisted that the inquiry cover both incidents.
An official involved with the investigation into chemical weapons in Syria use told The Independent yesterday that a two-person advance team was waiting in Cyprus to enter Syria and perform onsite inspections. But nearly six weeks after Syria initially asked for such an inquiry, investigators have been unable to enter the country.
“The Syrian government wants an inspection of just one site in Aleppo, we have asked for inspections for two places,” the official said.
It took 6 weeks for Assad to stop obstructing inspectors on an investigation MONTHS after the incidents. It doesn’t take a leap of imagination to figure out why considering the result.
Consequently, egg ended up in the face of Western nations who were openly appalled at the apparent government use of chemical weapons when the U.N. report concluded that there was “no definitive link” to a Syrian government sponsored chemical attack and that rebel forces “may have” done the attack. COMPLETELY INCONCLUSIVE! How is this determination any different from simply not having done an investigation at all? I mean, aside from being able to word the report in such a manner as to protect Russian interests at the expense of Syrian lives. Then again, exactly what was the world seriously expecting to determine A WHOLE YEAR after the first “unacceptabe” event???
So, who do we hold accountable for this humanitarian failure? We American citizens can do little with respect to the U.N., but we can certainly look with disgust upon our own leaders who have demonstrated no effective leadership in the matter. They should have pressured the U.N. for immediate results. They should have pressured Assad in all instances of chemical attacks and demanded IMMEDIATE cooperation. They should have, but didn’t and now we have a third incident with chemical weapons that is being dragged out for so long it will likely end up “inconclusive” yet again despite hundreds if not thousand of deaths.
The U.S. is now trying to take the high road by rejecting Assad’s belated cooperation in this latest incident, which is raising eybrows among conspiracy theorists and critics of our foreign policy. Unfortunately, based on U.S. inconsistencies unrelated and directly related to Syria, both groups are very justified in questioning our resolve and motives in this matter. After all we have done wrong the past decade, we had an opportunity to do the right thing for the right reasons and failed miserably while even repeating past mistakes (see Saddam Hussein’s record with U.N. inspections). Obama has new blood on his hands and he can’t blame anyone else for it especially when we consider the former state senator had a very pointed opinion regarding another leader with an affinity for chemical weapons:
“Now let me be clear — I suffer no illusions about Saddam Hussein. He is a brutal man. A ruthless man. A man who butchers his own people to secure his own power. He has repeatedly defied UN resolutions, thwarted UN inspection teams, developed chemical and biological weapons, and coveted nuclear capacity. He’s a bad guy. The world, and the Iraqi people, would be better off without him.” State Senator Barrack Hussein Obama, October 2, 2002
In spite of his “crossing a red line” comment regarding any chemical weapons use by the Syrian government, Obama followed up his 2002 remark with the following:
“But I also know that Saddam poses no imminent and direct threat to the United States, or to his neighbors, that the Iraqi economy is in shambles, that the Iraqi military a fraction of its former strength, and that in concert with the international community he can be contained until, in the way of all petty dictators, he falls away into the dustbin of history.”
So, it turns out there is substantial reason to doubt the credibility of any red line from this administration.
Despite this, we must support action that is correct and stumble forward with aggressive investigations and a consistent position to depose any government that is found to have used chemical weapons. It’s better to be criticized for being late than to suffer the sins of inaction. I just hope it involves a lot more than a mere “two-person advance team”. It is LONG past time for Obama to earn some aspect of his Nobel Peace Prize. There is no excuse for any more videos of children suffocating violently to death if international war laws have any meaning at all in our bumbling quest for world peace.
*DIsclaimer Edit: I have found that the the quote of President Barrack Obama in 2002 has no complete primary source. However, both liberal and conservative web sites have quoted the speech as I have linked one of each. Either way, we dealing with a mess that we helped create. Until Obama specifically rejects that he made this speech which had been used by independent groups as campaign material I feel comfortable attributing it to him with this note.