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

Analyst: Joint-Arab Military Force Poses Perilous Challenge

Although international forces are desperately needed to counter the threat of the Islamic State group, analysts say conflicting alliances could escalate fighting More

Asia’s Middle Class Changes Demand for Wheat Grain Exporters

Changes in tastes and diets are boon for wheat exporters such as Australia and the United States More

S. African Comedian Taking Over Popular TV Show

Mixed-race comedian Trevor Noah, who is loved for his edgy jibes about race and language, is taking the helm from Jon Stewart at The Daily Show in US More

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.
Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadistsi
X
Greg Flakus
March 30, 2015 6:48 PM
At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video With Coalition Airstrikes, Iraq Entering 'Last Page' of IS Battle

American warplanes joined Iraq's battle against the so-called 'Islamic State' in northern Iraq late Wednesday, as Iraqi ground troops launched a massive assault on Tikrit. Analysts say the offensive could take the coalition a step further towards Mosul, the largest city held by Islamic State forces. Others say it could also deepen already-dangerous sectarian tensions in the region. VOA's Heather Murdock has more from Cairo.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Hi-tech Motorbike Helmet's Goal: Improve Road Safety

In cities with heavily congested traffic, people can get around much faster on a motorcycle than in a car. But a rider who is not sure of his route may have to stop to look at the map or consult a GPS. A Russian start-up company is working to make navigation easier for motorcyclists. Designers at Moscow-based LiveMap are developing a smart helmet with a built-in navigation system, head-mounted display and voice recognition. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video DOJ: Illinois National Guard Soldier Tried to Join ISIS

U.S. federal law enforcement agents arrested two suburban Chicago men accused of trying to join ISIS overseas, while also plotting attacks in the United States. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from the Midwest state of Illinois, one of those arrested is a soldier of the Illinois National Guard.
Video

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Traditional push-rim wheelchairs create a lot of stress for arm, shoulder and neck muscles and joints. A redesigned chair, based on readily available bicycle technology, radically increases mobility while reducing the physical effort. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More