News / USA

Experts Cite Problems in Possible US Strike on Syria

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry makes statements on Syria at the State Department, Washington, Aug. 30, 2013.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry makes statements on Syria at the State Department, Washington, Aug. 30, 2013.
The United States is weighing military action against Syria for its alleged chemical weapons attack on rebel forces and civilians outside Damascus on August 21.
U.S. officials say President Barack Obama is considering limited military action to deter and degrade the Syrian government’s ability to use chemical weapons.
MAP: Areas affected by Aug. 21 chemical attack, DamascusMAP: Areas affected by Aug. 21 chemical attack, Damascus
MAP: Areas affected by Aug. 21 chemical attack, Damascus
MAP: Areas affected by Aug. 21 chemical attack, Damascus
Christopher Hill, former U.S. ambassador to Iraq and special envoy to Kosovo (1996-1999), says the reason given by the Obama administration resembles the one used in 1999 when NATO launched a bombing campaign to degrade the Serbian military forces and stop ethnic cleansing in Kosovo.
But Hill says there is a fundamental difference between the situation in Syria and Kosovo: the Kosovo campaign was part of an overall political plan for the Balkan region.
"With respect to Syria, there is no political process," he said. "There is no way forward, there has been no agreement on what Syria should be in the future, what kind of governance it should have in the future. And so we are in a situation where there’s going to be a use of force, but it is in respect not so much of the Syrian situation, but in respect of the use of banned weapons, weapons that have been banned for 100 years."
Retired United States Marine Corps General Anthony Zinni, who headed "Operation Desert Fox" — a series of air strikes against Iraq in December 1998 — agrees.
"We don’t have a strategy. We are reacting to a single event," he said. "We are trying to isolate it from the overall conflict, and it can’t be.
"You are about to do something that in effect is an act of war," he added. "You are about to take sides. Although the president has tried to make the intellectual argument [that] this is about a non-acceptable violation of international norms and use of chemical weapons, it still means you are attacking one element there.”
Zinni says a U.S. military strike on Syria will not be seen only as an attack on President Bashar al-Assad.
"This will be taken in the region that you are attacking Alawites, Shia, Christians," he said. "The tribal, ethnic and religious sects here are so divided, that once you do something — regardless of intention — you have in effect taken a side."
Zinni and Hill say that in previous wars — whether in Iraq, Afghanistan or Libya — the United States was able to put together an international coalition in advance of planned strikes.
"What has happened that should not have happened is we should have gained international support and commitment to act well before this and not wait to the last minute to try to put it together," said Zinni. "But to try to scramble to put a coalition together at the last minute, to gain international legitimacy: it creates a problem once you have moved assets into position and said that this is the crossing of the red line."
The United States lost a major partner in a potential international coalition strike against Damascus when British parliamentarians on Thursday voted to keep their armed forces from out of any military action against Syria.

Andre de Nesnera

Andre de Nesnera is senior analyst at the Voice of America, where he has reported on international affairs for more than three decades. Now serving in Washington D.C., he was previously senior European correspondent based in London, established VOA’s Geneva bureau in 1984 and in 1989 was the first VOA correspondent permanently accredited in the Soviet Union.

You May Like

Photogallery Brussels Schools, Metro Reopen Under Heavy Guard

City remains under the highest threat alert level due to what authorities have described as a 'serious and imminent' threat of attack

Video Debt-ridden Refugees Await Onslaught of Lebanese Winter

Aid agencies are attempting to reduce potentially devastating consequences of freezing conditions and snowstorms that killed eight last year, including three Syrian refugees

UN Warns Air Pollution in Asia Pacific Has Rising Cost

Globally some seven million people a year die prematurely due to indoor and outdoor pollution with about 70 per cent of those deaths in region

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: ahmed Gubran from: Libya
August 30, 2013 5:05 PM
The west started so strong and will end to nothing , its in their best to keep this fight going on as its weakning the two sides the syrian government and its allies and the fundmental groups who are challanging them which are mainly extremist muslims , but the US leadership has put himself in a narrow angle and trying to find a way out of it , that keeps the vision of america in the eyes of the world as leader of the inernational community

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against ISi
November 24, 2015 3:04 AM
The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs