15 September 2013
Unit 1: People & Government
Topic: US-Russia Agreement on Resolution in Syria
Secretary of State John Kerry has reached an unlikely common ground with his Russian counterpart: the US will not engage Syria using military force under the circumstance that Syria allows the UN to dispose of it entire stock of chemical weapons. President Obama justifies his threat of military force because he claims it forced Syria to “(acknowledge) that it has chemical weapons and (agree) to join the convention that prohibits the use of chemical weapons.” Syria in turn hails “victory” with the aid of its “Russian friends.” While Washington and Moscow remain divided on the future of President Bashar al Asaad, a conclusion has at least answered the current international crisis. In response to this close, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu fears that this international response of moderation will serve as a test case for how the world might respond to the creation of an Iranian nuclear arsenal. Interestingly enough, President Obama contacted President Hassan Rouhani of Iran soon after news of the US-Russian agreement and conducted a private conversation via phone. In response to what President Obama discussed, he warned that the resolution in Syria did not mean that the US wouldn’t use military force if it needed to.
While this entire article gives the impression that President Obama is stepping back with his tail between his legs, I do not believe a better solution may have been found. While I do believe that part of the motive behind Putin’s unrelenting support of Assad was Syria’s constant purchase of weapons from Russia, I also believe they have the best knowledge of why the US should not intervene. After all, Putin witnessed the power vacuum created by the failed Soviet invasion of Afghanistan fill with the initially glorious and humanitarian Taliban. It is estimated that up to 40% of rebel fighters consist of extremist Muslims. Whether the western world likes it or not, the majority of the Middle East is imploding and has been doing so ever since the decline of the Ottoman Empire. The best powers like the US can do to prevent further destruction is to stop the use of highly destructive and non-selective weapons like chemical agents. While Asaad is clearly no leader to imitate, he is for the time being the best option. His willingness to give up chemical weapons should be viewed as a bitter but nonetheless important victory worldwide.