We Must Not Intervene in Syria Without UN Vote
Columnists weigh in on Syria situation
By Evann Gastaldo, Newser Staff
Posted Sep 4, 2013 1:40 PM CDT
President Obama answers questions during a joint news conference with Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt, Sept. 4, 2013, at the Rosenbad Building in Stockholm, Sweden.   (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

(Newser) – The big topic on today's opinion pages: Syria. A sampling of what's out there:

  • We absolutely cannot intervene in Syria without UN Security Council authorization, write Oona A. Hathaway and Scott J. Shapiro in the New York Times. There is no direct threat to any NATO member, so reprehensible as it may seem, we must wait for approval. Remember, before the UN and its rules, there "was almost constant war."
  • In the Washington Post, Matt Miller brings up six "qualms" he has about the situation. The first: "What about the first 100,000 people Assad killed over two and a half years? What message are we sending to tyrants about the world’s willingness to look away from regular old mass murder within their own borders? ... Our whole approach still feels uncomfortably close to saying 'we’d really prefer you stick with the machine guns, if you don’t mind.'"

  • Striking Syria is not a good idea for President Obama, writes Robert Reich at Salon. And it's also not critical for the Middle East's future: "In fact, a strike on Syria may well cause more havoc in that tinder-box region of the world by unleashing still more hatred for America, the West, and for Israel, and more recruits to terrorism," he writes. And then there's the fact that, "once we take military action, any subsequent failure to follow up or prevent gains by the other side is seen as an even larger sign of our weakness, further emboldening our enemies."
  • And, despite the fact that Obama clearly said the use of chemical weapons was a "red line," the president has the right to change his mind, writes Charlie Cook in the National Journal. Obama's decision to seek congressional approval before making a move suggests he "was following the admonition of Shakespeare's Falstaff in Henry IV that discretion is the better part of valor," Cook writes. "Should a president make a statement, no matter how ill-advised it might be, then say, 'Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead' regardless of the circumstances and just to be consistent?"
  • Roger Cohen disagrees: "Red lines matter," he writes in the New York Times, and this one "must be upheld" just as American red lines were upheld during World War II and the Cuban Missile Crisis.
  • Also in the Times, Thomas L. Friedman offers up his plan for a Syria response: Further arm and train the Free Syrian Army, then "use every diplomatic tool we have to shame Assad, his wife, Asma, his murderous brother Maher, and every member of his cabinet or military whom we can identify as being involved in this gas attack," he writes. "Do not underestimate how much of a deterrent it can be for the world community to put the mark of Cain on their foreheads so they know that they and their families can never again travel anywhere except to North Korea, Iran, and Vladimir Putin’s dacha."

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Sep 5, 2013 11:20 AM CDT
My response to Assad who all of a sudden has a lot to say after Putin opened up his big shit talking mouth. & mikeydrew6827 is absolutely right with China & Russia and there veto power. When has China or Russia not do something cause the UN said not too NEVER. Assad has an alligator mouth & a humming bird ass now that Putin has opened his big yap Assad thinks Russia will do something to us I don't think so. But the best thing we can do is back the rebels 110% give them the fire power to kill Assad. After his fall lets see where Russia stands with the Syrian people. I can almost hear the Kremlin & Beijing saying it's nothing they wouldn't do to their people after all the world watched China run over a man with a tank. If anybody out there believes that Russia is a democracy is crazy. Putin don't have to answer to any one he'll just have them shot for being an enemy to the state. but if we back the rebels Assad will fall & Russia & China will be standing there with their thumbs up their asses. Hopefully we will leave the fighting to the Syria Free Army we can always give the rebels arms they will need and the intell from drones and satellite photos and the fight the rebels have taken to Assad must have him scared out of his ass or he wouldn't have gassed his own people. I hope the rebels do the same thing to Russia's & China's diplomats that the Libyan's did to ours just too show them they aren't shit. than if they don't kill them all they can kick them out of Syria that would be a big blow to those two dictators
Sep 5, 2013 10:08 AM CDT
The UN is the wimpiest organization on the planet when it comes to protecting the rights of the average person as it claims the responsibility under its own charter. That being said, if the US government and it's people no longer feel compassion for the murdered and displaced peoples of the world then it should close it should drastically reduce its military capability, close its borders and warn its citizens if they leave the country they do so at their own risk, because a large part of the world already hates us for all the carnage we have already perpetrated. It's too late to stop now. Our best bet it to try to do it right this time and regain some respectability.
Sep 4, 2013 11:33 PM CDT
Basically, Assad has been daring the US to intervene. Obama had no intention or desire to get involved. The civil war has been on for nearly three years, and we didn't even send bullets to the rebels. And with an air force and tanks and fighters from Hezbollah and trainers from Iran, why did Assad need to resort to gas? I too have no desire to intervene in that civil war between Fascists (the Baath) and Islamofascists (the Sunni salafists), but when chemicals are used to murder hundreds of kids in their sleep, someone has to do something to spank Assad. And let's face it, only the US has the means and werewithal. Israel could do it, but then Assad would hit Tel Aviv with gas. Assad can do nothing against Washington DC, and maybe he could get a lucky shot at one of our ships, but even that is doubtful. Assad has to be bitch-slapped for what he did. The UN can't do anything with Russian and Chinese vetoes, so that is basically a waste of time.