IN SYRIA: MISSION ACCOMPLISHED
If the words of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry can be assumed to be authoritative, the mission of U.S. President Barack Obama and the government of the United States regarding Syria has been accomplished — and no military strike by the U.S. against Syria is or will be necessary.
Has the spiritual energy which has been focused from all over the world on avoiding this confrontation had any impact on the current state of affairs? It is firmly believed by many in the global spiritual community that it has — and I agree.
Mr. Kerry publicly asserted, at a press conference in the United Kingdom on Sept. 9 while standing alongside the British Foreign Minister, that the U.S. was planning an “unbelievably small” attack on Syria. Various media reports have him saying this:
“We will be able to hold Bashar al-Assad accountable without engaging in troops on the ground or any other prolonged kind of effort in a very limited, very targeted, short-term effort that degrades his capacity to deliver chemical weapons without assuming responsibility for Syria’s civil war.”
Referring to the much publicized proposal of President Obama to strike militarily at the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Mr Kerry described it as an “unbelievably small, limited kind of effort.” The secretary of state said, “That is exactly what we are talking about doing.”
Observers are now saying that if “degrading” the Syrian government’s “capacity to deliver chemical weapons” is the intention of President Obama’s proposed missile attack, that strike will not now be necessary. Syrian Foreign Minister told the world’s media, also on Sept. 9, that Syria embraced a Russian proposal for Bashar al-Assad to put his nation’s chemical weapons under international control — thereby making it impossible for those weapons to be used offensively in Syria. If this was the objective of President Obama’s threats to rain missiles down on Syria, we are now in a posture of: Mission Accomplished —and without the use of killing force.
Syrian President Assad has denied any responsibility on the part of his government for a chemical weapons attack outside Damascus on August 21 that the U.S. has said killed more than 1,400 people. Assad has charged that it is rebel forces — whom he refers to as “terrorists” — who are the ones responsible.
Russia and China have publicly agreed with this conclusion, suggesting that the strategy of the rebels in doing so was to frame the Syrian regime, then arouse international opinion and call President Obama on his statement, made months ago, that the use of chemical weapons by the government in Syria would be the crossing of a “red line” that would prompt a U.S. military reaction. The rebels’ objective would be to prompt the U.S. to indirectly assist their own ends by weakening the Syrian government’s defenses.
President Assad said June 9 on the American television network CBS that the U.S. does not have “a shred of evidence” that the Syrian government was responsible for the chemical weapons attack. For its part, the U.S. has said it is not taking sides in the revolutionary conflict, but wishes, separately, to disable the Syrian government’s ability to use chemical weapons. It says that it has traced missiles fired on the target on Aug 21 to positions held by government forces, intercepted voice communications between government military sources regarding the chemical weapons use, and noticed with dismay that Syrian forces bombarded the targeted area with conventional explosives for four days following the attack in an attempt to wipe out any on-the-ground evidence of its involvement in the chemical attack before allowing outside U.N. inspectors in. Based on this evidence, Mr. Obama and his administration say that a punitive and response that incapacitates Mr. Assad’s chemical weapons delivery systems is appropriate.
Now comes the Russian government to say to Syria: turn your chemical weapons over to international control, with the Syrian government saying: “We will so so.” The Russian proposal was said to have followed an off-the-cuff remark by Mr. Kerry who said, when asked what if anything Syria could do to prevent a U.S. missile strike, that all it needed to do was relinquish control of its chemical weapons, and ultimately destroy them. Mr. Kerry’s spokesperson said later that it was a rhetorical remark, and that no one — least of all Mr. Kerry — expected that Syria would even think about doing that. But Russia was said to have seized upon Mr. Kerry’s remarks, and proposed it as a formal solution to the problem of how to avoid a U.S. missile strike on Syrian military installations. As noted, Syria quickly — and publicly — accepted the solution.
That should put an end to this phase of the Syrian crisis. If the rebels did, in fact, launch the attack itself, its strategy of inciting a U.S. attack on the Assad regime will have failed — and the use of such a strategy in the future will be virtually impossible, what with all of the Syrian government’s chemical weapons presumably under international control. On the other hand, if the Syrian government did, in fact, use chemical weapons against its own people to hit back at and cripple the grass roots revolutionary struggle there, that strategy will now be much harder to employ again.
Closer monitoring of all military activities inside of Syria would now also be necessary, to stop the government there from launching a chemical attack (with weapons it has held back from outside control) and then claiming that the rebels have done it. Similarly, the revolutionary forces are going to have to be willing to allow close monitoring of their activities, to stop them from doing exactly the same thing in reverse, then blaming the government.
But we are one step closer at this moment to a non-military solution to the Syrian crisis, and the Russian initiative can be seen today as having been critical in that regard. By openly and publicly challenging the Assad regime to turn any chemical weapons in its possession over to international control, and by the Syrian government unexpectedly immediately agreeing, Russia may have given all parties a way out of this stalemate.
Now that is what is called an international political solution to a problem that was threatening to become a global military conflagration. Are we out of the woods on this? Probably not yet. Not until the Obama Administration publicly backs off of its threat of targeted missile strikes inside Syria. And that won’t happen unless Congress refuses to authorize such strikes — which it might now have more rationale to do so in the face of Syria’s agreement to accept the Russian challenge. The U.S. Congress is debating the matter this week.