Thursday, August 29, 2013

Guest Post: What To Do About Syria

What To Do About Syria
Colonel Donald J. Myers USMC (Ret)

The civil war in Syria has been going on for over two years and an estimated 100,000 people have been killed thus far. Just about a year ago, our president stated if Syria used chemical weapons, that would be crossing a red line and the United States would act. Exactly what that meant was never explained, but rather left up to the imagination of anyone or any country to determine for themselves. In June, the Syrians apparently used chemical weapons against the rebels and after some delay, president Obama stated that he would assist the rebels by providing them with weapons.

Now, the Syrians have apparently used chemical weapons again and approximately 1000 civilians have been killed. The mythical red line has really been crossed again and this time the United States has moved four navy ships within striking distance while the administration determines what it will do. The Secretary of State, John Kerry, has been very vocal, but nothing has been heard from the president as of Wednesday while this is being written.

It is fascinating listening to various pundits give their opinions of what we should do. Retired military personnel have stated that we have the ability to take out the various airfields, fuel storage depots, command centers, and aircraft while using standoff weapons. That would possibly be the death knell of the current Syrian government. Others state that we could merely launch numerous cruise missiles as a signal of our desire to punish the Syrian government for crossing the red line as outlined by president Obama. Others state that we should do nothing.

What is our strategic interest in this affair? We have remained on the sidelines for over two years as this civil war raged. We also remained silent while tens of thousands were killed in countries in Africa. Many of the rebels have ties to Al Qaeda and the Muslim brotherhood. We already saw what happened in Egypt when the brotherhood had control of that government. Syria has tons of chemical weapons and if we used our technological ability to significantly degrade the Syrian military, the rebel forces could defeat the government and thus seize these chemical weapons.

The point is that President Obama issued what is an ultimatum when he warned the Syrians about crossing a red line by using chemical weapons. If we act, what will follow? There is no doubt that the rest of the world is watching to see what we will do. Up to this point, we have done nothing but talk and many of our potential enemies have seen that as a weakness. Iran continues to move in the direction of becoming a nuclear power. North Korea continues to rattle its sabers. It is obvious that they do not fear or respect our government and believe that there will be no consequences for ignoring any type of warning from the USA.

Firing a few cruise missiles into Syria is a weak action and will have no effect on the Syrian government. Taking out the Syrian ability to wage war could cause the rebels to win the war and result in an enemy of the United States having the ownership of chemical weapons. Doing nothing merely convinces our potential enemies that the current leadership is not to be feared.

In my opinion, we have no strategic interest in Syria, and as loathe as I am to sit on the sidelines, I would do nothing. Assisting the rebels to win is the worst outcome. Merely firing some cruise missiles as a message of discontent or doing nothing have about the same result. 

Donald J. Myers a retired colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps, is a regular columnist for Hernando Today. He lives in Spring Hill and can be contacted at

No comments:

Post a Comment