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
    x
    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

    Russian-Backed Offensive in Syria Pushes War to Tipping Point

    As threat to Aleppo and rebel forces grows, US plan to negotiate becomes less and less appealing for Syrian government, says one military analyst

    IS Runs Timber Smuggling Business in Afghanistan, Officials Say

    Government turning blind eye to smuggling, according to tribal leaders; Afghanistan's forest cover dropped by 50 percent in three decades, experts say

    Video White House Seeks $1.8 Billion to Combat Zika

    Obama administration says funding would 'support essential strategies to combat the virus' such as rapidly expanding mosquito control programs, accelerating vaccine research

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    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.
    'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenyai
    X
    February 08, 2016 4:30 PM
    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video Sanders, Clinton Battle for Young Democratic Vote

    Despite a narrow loss to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in last week's Iowa Democratic caucuses, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders secured more than 80 percent of the vote among those between the ages of 18 and 29. VOA correspondent Aru Pande talks to Democrats in New Hampshire about who they are leaning towards and why in this week's primary.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.