- John Kerry gave an address yesterday that strongly condemned the Assad regime's use of chemical weapons against Syrian rebels, and hinted at a potential U.S.-led military strike in the near future.
- Syria's government, in turn, has accused the secretary of state of lying.
- Kerry's words were pointed. "As a father, I can’t get the image out of my head of a man who held up his dead child, wailing while chaos swirled around him, the images of entire families dead in their beds without a drop of blood or even a visible wound, bodies contorting in spasms, human suffering that we can never ignore or forget. Anyone who could claim that an attack of this staggering scale could be contrived or fabricated needs to check their conscience and their own moral compass. What is before us today is real, and it is compelling.
- Since the war in Syria began over two years ago, more than 100,000 people have died, and more than 1.7 million people have been left refugees.
- This speech came after sniper attacks in Damascus last week against a United Nations team investigating the neighborhood hit by chemical weapons, which left hundreds dead.
- Even after the attacks, however, the United Nations is split about what to do next. Russia and China—allies of President Bashar al-Assad—think the international organization should tread lightly.
- And they aren't afraid to mention the United States' past mistakes in the Middle East in their efforts to deter a strike.
- Foreign Policy sums up President Obama's options thusly: "For now, the White House appears committed to a political juggling act that protects the president's options in choosing how to respond. Should he choose to launch a retaliatory strike, his lieutenants have already laid out a case justifying the move. If Obama backs down, his administration has at the very least issued a forceful statement and rattled its saber in a very loud way."
- Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel says that "we are ready to go," and reports state that strikes could start as soon as Thursday.
- Analysis of a potential strike followed quickly in the wake of the news. Andrew Bacevich says the U.S. needs to ask itself some questions before moving forward. When would our involvement in the conflict end? What is the legal basis for a military response?
- The New York Times writes, "A political agreement is still the best solution to this deadly conflict, and every effort must be made to find one."
- Professor Joshua Landis says, "The U.S. must respond to the use of chemical weapons in a forceful manner, but should not launch a broader intervention in Syria."
- The rebels and their supporters hope that Obama's red line against chemical weapons was anonnegotiable one.
- Regardless of how the world reacts, Syria has many terrible things to contend with. The fallout from the chemical attacks is harrowing. And the millions of people left adrift by the conflict has no choice with how to proceed. They simply must go on.
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