COMMENTARY | As president Barack Obama marches closer to war critics are growing increasingly vocal, demanding that the U.S. not intervene militarily against Syrian president [dictator] Bashar Al-Assad and his brutal military, which has been accused of using chemical weapons against civilians. Though the West has loudly condemned Al-Assad’s regime and its suspected use of chemical weapons, hesitancy has set in now that American might is ready to strike. Britain has decided not to join the U.S. on this one, breaking from tradition, and the U.N. Security Council has gotten nowhere. According to CNN, the U.S. may be in the awkward position of having to strike Syria alone, doling out aerial bombardments to the dictatorial regime without the diplomatic boost of willing allies.
At home, citizens and legislators alike are wary, vividly recalling the run-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) says that president Obama should not intervene in Syria because such intervention is not necessary for ensure America’s national security, reports CNN. His views are concurred with by many. However, he is incorrect.
Though I agree that there is no good winner in the Syrian civil war and that both the ruling regime and the extremist-ridden rebels are bad for Syria’s civilian population, I feel that the world must act, with force, to secure Syria’s chemical weapons. Over time these weapons of mass destruction will become increasingly less secure and temptation for their possessors to use, sell, or trade them will rise. Rogue leaders of a failed regime using sarin as lucrative and lethal bargaining chips is most definitely a threat to U.S. national security.
Weapons of mass destruction fall into a unique category of threat unknown prior to the 20th century, explaining why many citizens and policymakers may struggle to understand their danger. While Syria is indeed thousands of miles away and the possibility of a Syrian attack boat or fighter jet approaching a U.S. coastal city is about as remote as a snowball in Florida in July, only a single sarin-filled bomb, easily disguised and smuggled, need make it through to cause untold carnage. The West must act to ensure that as many of Syria’s chemical weapons are neutralized before they can become bargaining chips for desperate members of Al-Assad’s regime or anti-West weapons of terrorist/rebels who have raided the regime’s arms depots.
It is tempting to do nothing and take the short-term view regarding Syria’s crumbling and erratic regime, assuming that it would be worse to wage an imperfect campaign against Al-Assad’s military than to stay our hand. But remember, all it takes is one chemical weapon, perhaps smuggled across the Canadian or Mexican border, and detonated in a major city, to make staying our hand a terrible choice. Every stockpile of sarin bomblets neutralized is one stockpile that cannot find its way into the hands of Al Qaeda or the like.