A Response to Obama’s Address to the Nation on Syria

President Obama Addresses the Nation

I have just been scolded by our Commander in Chief because I hold the desire for a diplomatic outcome in regard to the use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime in Syria. A bold but sincere speech on the evening of September 10th was an extension of President Obama’s personal thoughts that warfare can be both ethical and necessary if the cause is just.

The president challenged members of congress and the American public to watch videos of the attack and then take a stance on whether a US military strike in Syria would be an appropriate response. For me, these videos of dead men, women, and children are not new and not shocking. More than 100,000 Syrians have died in their civil war and videos of the turmoil have been readily available in human rights related social news and media outlets for years. How are the sarin gas deaths of August 21st more deserving of an international response than all of the atrocities committed in the past two years?

The president stated that the use of chemical weapons had changed the game and threatened international security requiring a military response. He asserted that future dictators would take a lack of military intervention as a sign that it is acceptable to gas their citizens. This is inconsistent with the overwhelming decline of worldwide chemical weapons arsenals in the last 100 years. The president himself stressed that 189 governments, sovereign over 98 percent of humanity, have signed the UN Chemical Weapons Convention and agree not to use chemical weapons. Further, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons has reported that in the last 15 years more than 80 percent of the world’s stockpiled chemical agents have been verifiably destroyed. This means that President Obama’s pronouncement that chemical weapons use will increase is in direct conflict with the progress reaped from peaceful international cooperation.

Now that a peaceful resolution has been proposed by Russia and Syria has voiced amiability in making concessions, the argument in support of military intervention has lost it’s tongue. That said, it is the opinion of this citizen that world peace was once again threatened by the military might of a US oligarchy. The president alone has the power to conduct unilateral warfare without resolution from the security council and limited to no congressional oversight. To realize the dream of a more secure and peaceful world the US itself must make concessions. We need to reign in the control of our military beyond the direction of one person within the executive branch. We should also dampen the ability of our military, without international consensus, to conduct foreign strikes in the absence of a direct and imminent threat.

Sources: OPCW Demilitarization report, Transcript of President Obama’s speech