american foreign policy Syria and stuff

<preface explanation for article:




In my mind the United States involvement with Syria is a combination of true foreign policy and moral reflection.syria chemical-weapons-map-21


The main challenge seems to be that U.S. policy regarding chemical weapons overall … not just with Syria … has been inconsistent and politicized historically which puts the United States is in a difficult position to take leadership in response to any use of such weaponry by Syria.


While I don’t agree with all the following quotes I will share the attitude behind them established the issue USA faces fairly well:


“Even though the US thinks they are in charge of humanity the reality is they are not. In their imaginary world the toothless media supports their spit ball shooting president. They actually think their words are supreme and final. Kerry and McCain keep dancing in a parade trying to influence a congress which is neither conservative nor moral but nevertheless war weary. – The Pravda



“Syria was not witnessing a battle for democracy but ‘an armed conflict between government and opposition in a multi-religious country’, Putin said, in a New York Times comment piece repeating assertions that rebels rather than the government might have used chemical weapons, “to provoke intervention by their powerful foreign patrons”, and may be planning further attacks, even against Israel.

[An American attack] could undermine multilateral efforts to resolve the Iranian nuclear problem and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and further destabilise the Middle East and north Africa. It could throw the entire system of international law and order out of balance.”  – Putin




United States involvement with Syria <and anywhere in the middle east I imagine> is fraught with peril and unknowns.

But here is an unfortunate truth with regard to any action associated with foreign policy on any issue.



           It could throw the entire system of international law and order out of balance.



The key word?



99.9% of all foreign policy decisions revolve around that one word.

Experts are simply speculators.


I say that because the situation in Syria is both horrifying and complicated.


Any situation in foreign policy is complicated <and often horrifying>… well … that is unless you ignore anything foreign and focus solely on domestic <let’s call that being an isolationist>.


While it useful to discuss different views on what the US could do and its impact it seems like we should be investing more discussion around what we SHOULD do.

Putin’s thoughts withstanding … and with the utmost respect for someone who can actually lead … he is right … and wrong.


The United States is NOT in charge of humanity.


The United States has a responsibility to humanity.


So back to ‘should.’


What should America do?


Chemical warfare tips the balance in intervention’s favor.




You either decide to walk across the street and stop the bully from bullying or you keep walking like nothing is going on.


This isn’t about choosing sides.

This is about making sure the bully knows what he can or cannot do.

And this whole discussion is not about Americans are no longer interested in policing human rights but solely on what we ‘should’ do rather than what we could do <note that ‘size of military’ seems to be a political play on the ‘what we could do’ balance>.





Why America?


Why not us?


Either do what is right or don’t.


Draw some lines.

Don’t pick sides … pick moral issues.


The US should intervene for humanitarian reasons not just when threatened directly.


I get concerned when trying to persuade a nation reluctant to take action we discuss things like chemical warfare and suffering and death in Syria, including that of children, and we have a lack of enthusiasm because those who are suffering and dying are Syrian <children> and not American <children>.


To be clear.

Arguments that action against Syria is not required by our immediate national interest is valid.

Strikes on Syria may be dangerous and could produce unintended negative consequences is valid.



I refer back to ‘could’ versus ‘should.’


If I could <or any real foreign policy expert> predict any outcome I would be pleased to do so.




‘We don’t always know how it ends.’


That’s pretty much true regarding almost any action proposed. About the only thing we know in the Syria situation is how it ends for the most vulnerable if the situation continues to escalate.


Worse <from a moral standpoint>?

syria watch us burnA refusal to intervene at this point amounts, objectively, to ratifying the use of chemicals.


We talk about lines.

And lines in tangible ways … and yet this is a moral line.


A moral line avoids the discussion of whether we, or any of our allies, are directly engaged.

A moral line is whether our morals have been engaged.


In a moral issue we truly only answer to ourselves.

Our moral compass is not defined by another country or ideology.



Morality seems so intangible <albeit I could argue that being consistent with regard to moral issues over a period of time establishes something tangible> so I will share a thought on something tangible <if not a moral ‘should do’>.


I agree that all wars or military conflicts need a final goal or end game.


Here the endgame is to stop further chemical weapons attacks.


Everyone has made it clear, as they should, that the Syrians will have to resolve the issues on their own.  Any United States mission would need to be driven by a moral perspective.


And, yes, intervention has potential risks of its own.

But a ‘do nothing’ position runs an even bigger potential risk … a risk in that we could do something right … and we elect to not do something right.

This suggests we are morally implicated by the consequences of our actions, but are absolved of the consequences of inaction — that there are only sins of commission and not of omission.

I’m afraid that’s not the world we live in, or should want to.


In addition a “do nothing” position suggests that in the absence of intervention, things stay essentially as they are … that there are not equal or worse consequences that flow from non-intervention.




As in what should we do interventionwise.


The intervention that I would do is to send in a small force of highly qualified military personnel and destroy the chemicals. I am quite familiar with Marines and the military and if anyone truly believes we don’t know where weapons are and that we couldn’t get to them wherever they are being silly.

Simplistically … tell our best of the best to go do what they need to do and get out of their way.


That said.




Foreign policy is always challenging.

And I believe it was a British diplomat who suggested that diplomacy isn’t challenging because of the opposite side of the table … it’s the same side of the table on which you sit:


it is not the other side you need to worry about, but your own.”


For a ‘just do it’ nation we seem to be doing nothing when we not only could but should be doing something.

And, yes … I am fully aware that sometimes it is indeed best for ‘good men’ to do nothing.

Sometimes you just have to let people get on with resolving their own issues <even if it includes death>.


In the end.

United States can lend a hand morally and tangibly … but they have to get there themselves.

And we certainly should recognize that some never will.

And some don’t even want to.

You cannot impose change on people <regardless of the issue>.


But we can impose some moral boundaries.

Please note that I am not suggesting we impose our morals … simply some boundaries on behavior.



Because we can.


Not everyone can stop a bully.

We can.


Doing what is right is never <or rarely> easy.

And we can dither about and debate and wring our hands on whether we should be involved or not … but I do not believe anyone would ever say that using chemicals is acceptable.


Therefore we step in to make sure everyone knows it is unacceptable.


Because we should.

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Written by Bruce