On Tuesday, Senators John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) released a joint statement calling for U.S. intervention in Syria after unconfirmed reports of chemical weapon usage.
McCain and Lindsey prompted the Obama administration to create safe zones for civilians and Syrian opposition groups, provide weapons to opposition groups, partake in targeted air strikes, and deploy SCUD missiles on ground. According to the statement, McCain and Graham believe that if these tactics were utilized earlier, Syria would have been deterred from using chemical weapons. Question is, would this be an appropriate course of action in handling Syria if the reports ring true? In this case, another messy foreign entanglement can end up doing more harm than good for the U.S.
An Israeli official said that it is “apparently clear” chemical weapons were used in Syria, though Minister of Intelligence and Strategic Affairs, Yuval Steinitz has said there is still no evidence to assert such claims. In a time where the U.S. finds itself attempting to police the likes of both Iran and North Korea from advancing in nuclear warfare, Syria could prove to be another issue as prevalent as the U.S.’s 10-year anniversary of invading Iraq.
According to a senior military advisor of the president’s in a New York Times piece, Obama doesn't view Syria as a speedy and salvageable situation as he did with Libya — rather, he equates Syria to Iraq. Meaning that U.S. intervention could lead to an aftermath it would be stuck with. A Duke University professor, Peter Feaver in the same piece said that he predicts the president is purposely trying to avoid Syria so that the U.S. wouldn't hold responsibility for the storm to come.
Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Representative Mike Rogers said of America's reputation in the Middle East, "The United States has lost the faith of the opposition. They even at one point turned down a meeting with the secretary of state of the United States, they were so fed up. Our allies in the region are getting very nervous about us."
"If we're ever going to have a diplomatic solution where this regime doesn't get to the point where it uses mass quantities of chemical weapons, we've got to rebuild our credibility," he said. "One way to do that is to remove their capability to use chemical weapons on civilians."
Rogers went on to say that it was also possible to deter Syria from the usage of chemical weapons without deploying U.S. troops. A euphemism for drone strikes? Either way, Syria is another volatile region where President Bashar Hafez al-Assad’s reign and opposition to it has hastened a dark cloud over the country, wrought with civil war. And despite the complications that could arise with involvement, last year, Obama did issue a severe warning to Syria.
“We have been very clear to the Assad regime, but also to other players on the ground, that a red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized,” he said.
“That would change my calculus.”
If that red line has in fact been crossed, the situation will boil down to whether or not Obama and the U.S. are prepared to follow through on previous warnings.