We all know that there's a looming crisis in Syria. We're also quite aware that the public is not in favor of the US taking any miliarty action at this time regardless of the horrific poison gas murders of innocent civilians by the Assad regime this past August 22nd.
Fortunately, through a series of planned or unplanned events, a crack in the diplomatic door has been opened and Obama has chosen to pursue that potential avenue. This must be applauded. Despite all the rhetoric by the McCain hawks or the Rand Paul doves, the drumbeat for war was becoming quite alarming.
What we should be alarmed at is not our determination to make a stand against the use of chemical weapons. But that it took this August massacre to be the flash point. There have been reports of much earlier use of CW's that rose to the White House's attention.
WASHINGTON — In July 2012, senior U.S. intelligence officials drove to the Capitol to secretly brief top lawmakers on the first indications that the Syrian government had used chemical weapons against its own people.
But it was the beginning of a stream of intelligence documenting what U.S. officials say was a yearlong escalation in the use of the banned weapons by the government of President Bashar Assad, a far more extensive record of the incidents than previously known. The Obama administration did not publicly acknowledge the attacks for months, and declared in April that it believed Syria had used chemical weapons.
So if Obama knew this information that chemical weapons were being used, why is it that it took this large scale attack in August to trigger his "line in the sand?"
Though President Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry, and other officials have asserted there is "no doubt" Assad was behind the attack, they have been careful to refer to "Assad's regime" or the "Syrian regime" to avoid stating it outright. Outside the administration, analysts with senior-level intelligence clearance say there is real doubt that Assad has command of his chemical weapons.
It's this kind of tenuous reassurance or double talk that has me worried. I personally think Assad is in charge of his current regime and anything they do, whether with his explicit, implied or even blind eye are still his responsibility. Just as Obama is ultimately responsible for the US response.
With this question of who really has control of the chemical weapons in Syria, this is the time to tread lightly and continue to investigate. The Washington Times also echos this concern of who's really in command of these CW's.
U.S. intelligence has yet to uncover evidence that Syrian President Bashar Assad directly ordered the chemical attacks last month on civilians in a suburb of Damascus, though the consensus inside U.S. agencies and Congress is that members of Mr. Assad’s inner circle likely gave the command, officials tell The Washington Times.
If we don't know for sure if it's Assad or his lieutenants, there's something interestingly optimistic in this. Russia also may not know who's really pulling the strings in Syria. And they have a huge stake in making sure these CW's don't end up being used against them down the road. If they back Assad and someone else is capable of using the Sarin gas, then they have a fear that Chechen's or others within Russia may seek out an alliance with the real person responsible and that could bring about an attack on Putin's land.
Just a thought -- if it wasn't Assad himself who gave the order, look for some close adviser to the President of Syria to suddenly go missing, under Putin's secret authority.
Everyone's got some skin in this game. And for a change, the outcome for both the Russians, despite their bluster, and the US are the same-- elimination of the chemicals. So while we give negotiations a chance, let's keep some optimism alive. And maybe during that time, we'll find out who really pulled the trigger on the August 22 chemical attack. It just might be the Syrian Minister or General who doesn't answer "here" when they do the next role call.