Obama continues to downplay the plans the US is making for strikes against Bashar Al-Assad’s troops, saying that they will be limited, and that it will neither be a full-scale war nor will it be intended to overthrow the regime. All that’s left for Obama to tell Bashar is the coordinates of the targeted sites so that they can be evacuated, and for Bashar and his brother Maher to go away on summer vacation until after the strike is over.
Obama is following a path he hates to travel. The worst news he ever heard from his men was that Assad’s troops have, in fact, used the forbidden chemical weapons, which means that he has crossed Obama’s red line. So now Obama has no option but to reinforce the credibility of his warning.
It is not true that all wars are waged for one reason only. Wars are waged for any number of reasons, such as geographic expansion, resources, religion, patriotism, and even for personal motives—leaving aside the wars sparked by moral embarrassment.
Obama is being pulled into a war the entire world can see he does not want to fight. We all know how Obama shunned American involvement in Syria for two years—despite the bloody nature of the Syrian state of affairs—and how he declined to take a real action on the ground.
In fact, this is a war to restore American credibility. It is also a war to prove the moral responsibility of the West, as much as it is about a shared norm in modern warfare: the abstention from using internationally forbidden weapons.
We have no idea about how serious will this war be. Perhaps all we will see is a handful of missiles, fired to no avail.
It is a source of sorrow that the Arabs have become addicted to repeating the anarchic conduct of denial. In Yemen, pro-Bashar demonstrations took place to express solidarity with the chemical killer, and a Yemeni delegation was even sent to Syria to support him. In Egypt, newspapers—even the sedate ones—are full of various reports critical of the idea of a military strike, and full of talk about conspiracy theories in a manner reminiscent of the Arab media following Saddam’s invasion of Kuwait.
There are also people in the Gulf who were influenced by such a discourse and are playing the same tune by demanding an “Arab solution,” as if Kuwait was liberated from Saddam with an Arab solution.
What is required, then? Should we let Bashar kill as many people as he wishes in the hope that his conscience will be aroused someday? Should we wait until the disintegration of the Syrian social fabric stops on its own, or should we leave the Syrian wound open for more Al-Qaeda and Shi’ite militias?
A senior Arab journalist, discussing why he thinks military strikes against Bashar Al-Assad’s troops are a bad idea—having reviewed calls for war in the US, of which he found only a few against Bashar—concluded in utter bewilderment, saying: “If I’m to have a third opinion, I’d say that I wish that the Syrian people would emerge as winners, but I do not know why.”
Amer Ebaid, a twenty-seven-year-old Syrian refugee who fled his country over the Lebanese border with his family to escape the hell of Bashar’s chemicals, his bombs and the anticipated US strike, answers by saying: “The Americans will make their strike, God willing. I want them to make it, but the Americans were never once truthful. I hope they will launch their strike so that the Arabs can finally be awakened.”