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

Multimedia US Defense Secretary: Iraqi Forces Lack 'Will to Fight'

Ash Carter criticizes Iraq's reaction to Islamic State; National Security Advisor Susan Rice echoed Carter's concerns in an interview on CBS More

Boko Haram Surrounds Havens With Land Mines

Chad and Cameroon say huge numbers of land mines planted by Boko Haram fighters along Cameroon's border with Nigeria are a danger to people, livestock and soldiers More

Women Activists for Peace Cross Korean DMZ

Governments of Koreas give international delegation of women peace activists permission to pass through heavily fortified boarder, but some critics say symbolic crossing only benefits Pyongyang 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.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs