by Vito Tomasino
To bomb, or not to bomb Syria is the question, but is it the one we should be debating?
The Obama administration and the other hawks in both parties support a limited strike
in retaliation for Assad’s alleged use of chemical weapons. They say they have proof that
chemical weapons were used, and used by his government.
Indeed, their use has been confirmed by the UN inspection team. The evidence also
suggests that they came from Syrian military controlled areas; but is that conclusive
proof they were fired by them? Should we not consider the possibility, that mortar, or
rocket delivered chemical weapons—given to the rebels by their supporters—could have
been launched by them from government held territory? I believe it is a very real
possibility and, unless it can be absolutely ruled out, the case to bomb Syria is put in
An important point, not yet made by anyone engaged in this debate, is that of motive.
Who stands to gain and who stands to lose by the use of such weapons? Why, it should
be asked, would Assad invite the wrath of U.S. Air power and concede the overwhelming
advantage he enjoys over the rebels in manpower and arms. Why indeed? He has already
killed more than one hundred thousand of his people with conventional bombs, bullets
and rockets, and is winning the war. To use chemical weapons now makes no rational
sense. Assad has nothing to gain and everything to lose.
The rebels, on the other hand, have everything to gain and nothing to lose. Forcing
President Obama to make good on his “red-line” threat and unleash American air power
against the Syrian government could tip the balance in their favor. Should Obama so act,
he would no doubt also release the weapons currently being held back from the rebels
and, once committed, is not likely stop with one quick strike, but continue until the
Assad regime is brought down.
Should that be the result, what then will Syria become in the hands of a rebel group
that includes among its more organized factions, Al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood?