The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

September 3, 2013

No easy answers for U.S. in the situation in Syria

Enid News & Eagle

— George W. Bush called it a “tough choice to make,” and that’s an understatement.

We’re talking about Syria, located in the Pandora’s box known as the Middle East.

First of all, we need to be absolutely certain that the Syrian government used chemical weapons against civilians.

Once that determination is made, there are no easy answers.

The Washington Post did an admirable job trying to explain the background in “9 questions about Syria you were too embarrassed to ask.”

In a nutshell, the Post explained how the diverse country roughly the size of Washington state is in the throes of civil war.

President Bashar al-Assad, the suspected user of chemical weapons, apparently learned from his father how to kill civilians to thwart an uprising.

Why not use the United Nations to go after the Assad regime? Russia, still frosty after decades of a Cold War mentality, is backing the Syrian government to protect its military exports and its only foreign military base beyond the former Soviet Union.

China, a longtime Assad ally, also has veto power.

What’s the next move?

“The military options are all bad,” wrote Max Fisher, the Post’s foreign affairs blogger.

Fisher argues that arming rebels could empower jihadists. Totally eliminating Assad might create a vacuum of power in the already unstable region, and a “no-fly zone” could prove ineffective.

Considering Iraq and Afghanistan, nobody wants another ground war or U.S. casualties.

If Assad did use chemical weapons on civilians, the ultimate question remains: What are the consequences of using them in defiance of the 1925 Geneva Protocol?