Beyond the Cusp

January 18, 2013

United States Abdicates Responsibility to Act on Syrian Chemical Weapons

Despite the intense coverage given to United States President Barack Obama making a speech where he insisted that the United States considered Syrian President Bashir Assad’s military stores of chemical weapons to be a serious threat and was being treated as a paramount subject being taken seriously by the United States, follow up after the speech has left doubts. The President stressed that the United States military was monitoring the Syrian WMDs and would act should Bashir Assad use these illegal weapons in his desperation in the Syrian civil war and that such use would be crossing a red line which President Obama stated its crossing would force a strong response from the United States. The President’s comments were made subsequent to and in addition to United States Defense Secretary Leon Panetta who was quoted responding to the eventuality of Assad’s government being toppled leaving the chemical weapons stores unsecured, “I think the greater concern right now is what steps does the international community take to make sure that when Assad comes down, that there is a process and procedure to make sure we get our hands on securing those sites. That, I think, is the greater challenge right now.” When pressed to clarify if Secretary Panetta responded, “We’re not talking about ground troops. You always have to keep the possibility that, if there is a peaceful transition and international organizations get involved, that they might ask for assistance in that situation. But in a hostile situation, we’re not planning for that.” Panetta insistence that any future U.S. military role in Syria would only come about if a new government asked for assistance hinted at the disconnect between the stated stress over the serious threat posed by the existing chemical weapons and the lack of commitment by the President Obama and his Administration to taking any responsibility for securing these dangerous WMDs except by voluntary invitation, a highly unlikely scenario.

Further comments from President Obama and Secretary Panetta have noted the extreme difficulty in being able to detect whether chemical weapons have been employed and that in order to assure such use would require intense monitoring which is beyond the level that the President is comfortable with allocating. The main concept coming from President Obama appears to be more aligned with finding reasons why the United States cannot be found culpable in any failure to prevent Syrian Dictator Assad from using his stores of chemical weapons. In a further step in that direction, the United States has quietly behind the scenes tasked Turkey and Jordan with the responsibility of determining whether or not Bashir Assad uses his chemical weapons and should the need arise tasking them with stepping in to take responsibility for securing the chemical weapons. Considering that the Syrian arsenal of chemical weapons stores is estimated to be between three-hundred and four-hundred metric tons, it would take more resources than Turkey and Jordan have readily available even if combined. Only the United States, Russia, China, and possibly a few more States would easily be able to assemble the necessary equipment, troops, trained personnel in ABC weapons handling, transport assets, secure storage and the other miscellaneous abilities necessitated to secure and relocate the Syrian stores for subsequent disposal. It is simply irresponsible for the United States to sidestep any responsibility for the securing of these extremely dangerous weapons which if mishandled could cause massive casualties and untold misery destroying all life over a wide area should an accident occur. This is the critical point where President Obama’s position of leading from behind and refusing to ever be up front taking responsibility for any situation no matter how serious the potential for disaster which the United States taking the lead could avoid. This is the result of a world that apparently will be without any assist or influence from the United States going forward. This will show us exactly what a world would be if run by the United Nations.

The initial sign that Bashir Assad may have begun to utilize some of his lesser level chemical weapons has already been detected. The initial theory is that the chemical weapon utilized by President Assad loyalists was a chemical weapon called Agent 15, known also by its NATO code BZ. From what research we have been able to determine that Agent 15 is at the lesser end of the chemical weapons capabilities with the capabilities slightly stronger than CX, a strong form of tear gas. When questions were asked as to the potency of Agent 15, doctors who had treated the affected people attributed five deaths to the use of Agent 15 which makes it far more lethal than tear gas which is a nonfatal class of chemical dispersant utilized for crowd control. Still, despite the reported deaths, the United States has made no comment and despite a leaked communique from the United States Consul General in Istanbul, Scott Frederic Kilner, to State Department in Washington which outlined the results of the consulate investigation into reports from inside Syria indicating chemical weapons had been used in Homs on Dec. 23, 2012. After such a refusal to act or even demand Assad cease use of chemical weapons will be seen by Assad and his military commanders as tacit approval to go forward and use even stronger chemical weapons escalating until he gets a reaction. Should this trend be tested and continue with United States President Obama’s tendency to vacillate and equivocate taking painfully long to reach even the most obvious of decisions, the world had best take the lead and not depend on the United States to act or expect Assad to fully implement the use of his chemical weapons stores as soon as he feels that it is use them or lose everything. The results from Assad taking such desperate measures will rest on all who could have acted without facing impossible retributions and have prevented the thousands of deaths which will result. The worst case scenario would be if the sole country which chose to act to prevent Assad from committing a near genocide against the Syrian people was Israel as should it fall to Israel to stop Assad would very probably initiate an immeasurable conflagration as numerous Arab and Muslim countries would react with the intent of punishing Israel for her aggression against another Arab Muslim ruler. Does anyone think it would be otherwise?

Beyond the Cusp

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