US think-tank cautions Obama to eat his words on Syria

TEHRAN (FNA)- A US think-tank cautions Washington to think twice about a military strike on Syria, saying that the main regional actors will not allow the US to realize its goals through a limited war and will incur unforeseen and grave costs on the US, which will take the battle into a full-scale war in the region.

Adil E. Shamoo, an associate fellow of the Institute for Policy Studies, in an article released on September 08, 2013, tries to investigate the facts behind the American officials’ claims about the use of chemical weapons in Syria. What follows is his article as released by Foreign Policy in Focus.

The White House has justified its proposed attack by asserting that Bashar al-Assad has used chemical weapons and violated international “standards” and “norms.” However, if the Obama administration does go ahead with its proposed strikes, the United States itself will be acting in violation of international law. According to the UN Charter, the United Nations “prohibits any and all use of force against other states, except for the purpose of individual or collective self-defense, or as authorized by the UN Security Council for the purposes of restoring or maintaining collective security.” None of these conditions currently apply.

The president and his national security team have apparently already concluded that intervention in Syria serves America’s interests, and appear determined to act accordingly. Chemical weapons merely provide a justification to assert those interests, among which are to ensure access to oil and to help allies, especially Israel, in the Middle East. Moreover, the intervention has a global and regional component: the administration is warning the Russian Federation and China that the United States will defend its interests in the Middle East, with military force if necessary. As for Iran, it is a warning that the United States is determined to reduce Iranian influence in the region, sending a signal that Washington has the will and capability to retaliate if Iran ever decides to develop nuclear weapons.

But history provides important lessons in this regard. The supposed weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) in Iraq green-lighted the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in 2003, leading to years of war and almost innumerable deaths. The Gulf of Tonkin incident in 1964 led to a lengthy US ground war in Vietnam. Pursuing US “interests” led to the 1953 overthrow of the democratically elected government of Mohammad Mosaddegh in Iran. During the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s, the United States provided intelligence to Iraq on the location of Iranian troops, knowing full well Saddam Hussein would use his chemical weapons against them. This track record should inspire little confidence among actual humanitarians.

From another side, many who support a military intervention in Syria do not address the possible and probable reactions of Iran, Hezbollah, or the Arab streets in Jordan and Iraq. An escalated war in Syria could spread into Lebanon, Iraq, and Jordan, and would very probably engage Iran. The White House claims it will not pursue regime change in Syria, but we all know what happened to Muammar Gaddafi in Libya just two years ago.

How will the United States respond when Middle East actors retaliate? It is unreasonable to expect that military intervention will be met with silence. It is very likely that the United States will become mired in a war in the Middle East. Syria will then become a secondary consideration as the fuse of discontent is lit among Arabs against the United States.

All this will happen because a talkative president made “Assad must go,” “red-line,” and “game changer” part of his vocabulary. But sometimes it’s better to eat your words than repeat them.

By Fars News Agency


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