There are a couple of points about America's impending military attack against Syria that I'd like to discuss, if I may:
1. We have NO confirmation of who is responsible for the supposed chemical weapons attack, or whether it actually was a chemical weapons attack. The UN inspectors sent into Syria to investigate this are there only to determine the latter, not the former. The US government has been making repeated claims to the contrary (see Kerry's quote, etc.) without providing publicly the evidence they claim to have. Sound familiar? It's the same thing that happened with Iraq in 2003.
2. The key talking point that the Obama Administration and the State Department are pushing to indicate Assad's guilt (therefore justifying an air strike) is that his regime supposedly delayed UN inspectors from coming in to the country to inspect the bomb site. This is a lie. The UN issued a press release to the media last Thursday indicating their desire to request access to the bomb site, but didn't issue the formal request until Saturday, when Angela King delivered it personally to leaders in Damascus. The request was granted on Sunday, and inspections began Monday. That's hardly delayed action, by any standards. When pressed by reporters during a press conference earlier this week, a UN spokesperson called this a question of 'semantics', but when speaking on issues of diplomacy, semantics is everything.
3. If the US decides to launch air strikes into Syria without authorization from the UN Security Council, then they are breaking the law. Period. Many are citing the 1999 'Kosovo Precedent' as justification for our involvement, where we bypassed the UN Security Council and instead conferred with NATO High Command over military action in Serbia, who, unsurprisingly, gave us 'authorization' to attack Kosovo. They had no right to do so, and that act is as illegal now as it was then. Using that as an excuse to attack another country, for whatever reason, would make us hypocrites, and war criminals.
Not as if any of this is going to stop America from doing whatever the hell it wants, especially since the UN will likely not actually challenge our actions if we go through with them. As much as I know it would hurt us, I hope that, if America does bomb Syria, we feel the heat from China over it in the form of trade sanctions and embargoes. China stands staunchly in opposition with Russia against any military intervention in Syria, and while Russia has little power over us at this point, China sure as hell does in the form of manufacturing interests. As they emerging as a new force on the world stage, they've yet to flex that power, but I'd be hard-pressed to disagree over the justification to do so if America decides to play "Cowboys and Muslims" once again.
Those who say that military intervention in Syria is the only remaining option, no matter how many regretful noises they make, are lying to you. There are still other options on the table, and we need to actively pursue them, else we bring about massive destabilization to the entire Middle Eastern region, and drag ourselves into yet another costly, prolonged military engagement.
Democracy Now! has been doing great reporting on Syria, and earlier this week Institute for Policy Studies fellow Phyllis Bennis appeared on their show to talk about many of the things I've just outlined above. Here's the video:
Despite all of our best efforts, I legitimately fear that history will repeat itself in the Middle East before the previous era of engagement has even drawn to a close. At least some comfort can be taken in the knowledge there is a contingent of journalists, activists, and pundits desperately attempting to forestall what appears to be an inevitability.