Obama Warns of Inaction, But Waiting on Russia-Syria WMD Deal

Is the speech mightier than the sword? US President Obama. Illustrative. Photo Courtesy of UN Photo/Mark Garten

Is the speech mightier than the sword? US President Obama. Illustrative. Photo Courtesy of UN Photo/Mark Garten

US President Barack Obama sounded suspicious and questioning—but hopeful—over a Russian plan to rid Syria of its chemical weapons in a speech to Americans on Tuesday night. At the same time, he remained open to a military strike on the Syrian regime in retaliation for gassing its own people, warning that doing nothing would endanger Americans.

A deal to remove and destroy Syria’s chemical weapons would be very good for you, if it can be trusted, even if it won’t resolve the tragic civil war in Syria. But as Obama said, inaction would only encourage the world’s dictators and terrorists to use horrific weapons on us.

“If we fail to act, the Assad regime will see no reason to stop using chemical weapons,” Obama said in his speech. “As the ban against these weapons erodes, other tyrants will have no reason to think twice about acquiring poison gas, and using them. Over time, our troops would again face the prospect of chemical warfare on the battlefield. And it could be easier for terrorist organizations to obtain these weapons, and to use them to attack civilians.”

Gas attacks on troops in Afghanistan? Chemical weapons in the hands of Al-Qaeda with New York on their minds? That’s the image Obama apparently fears.

Of course, it doesn’t appear the US Congress will back him in a military strike, based on US media reports. As an example, US Senator Ted Cruz noted in his Twitter account that: “We’ve received over 5,000 phone calls concerning #Syria. Over 99% opposed to military action.”

In light of that, a Russian deal—in which Syria gives up its chemical weapons and allows the world to verify their removal and destroy them—could be the best option.

While it’s unjust and sad that the Syrian regime could essentially get away with murder, the Russian plan would take the most dangerous weapons owned by Syria off the table. It would also prevent terrorists fighting on the rebel side from acquiring chemical weapons in the chaos.

So for now, Obama is waiting to see what transpires on the Russian front. “It’s too early to tell whether this offer will succeed, and any agreement must verify that the Assad regime keeps its commitments,” he said in comments posted on the White House website. “But this initiative has the potential to remove the threat of chemical weapons without the use of force, particularly because Russia is one of Assad’s strongest allies.”

For now, it’s more waiting all around. Will the 11th-hour diplomacy prevent more war?

(By Joshua Spurlock, www.themideastupdate.com, September 11, 2013)

What do you think?