You may have heard about President Obama’s announcement that he wants to go into Syria, and you also may have heard that he asked Congress to make the decision. The fact is, the plan never was to get involved in Syria, only punish whoever used Sarin gas.
While it has not been confirmed, it is thought that Assad attacked his people in the suburbs of Ghouta outside Damascus on August 21st last month using a chemical agent that is highly toxic to people, Sarin. No one really thought that was the right thing to do, but everyone who thinks that it was Assad agrees it was inhumane.
But what most US citizens can’t agree on is whether or not to get involved in Syria. But they don’t have to, because we won’t be interfering anytime soon. We’re not getting involved in Syria because of some chemical attacks, and now all of a sudden we think Assad deserves to lose the Syrian Civil War because he killed his own people.
So then why does Obama need congress to make a very important decision about the US’s involvement in Syria? Because we need to enforce international rules. Now what does that mean?
Many years ago, the United Nations, and almost every country on earth (including Syria) agreed that chemical weapons should never be used during times of war. Why? Because they just are not effective at winning, and beating the other side. Let me give you a scenario to show why they aren’t effective: Imagine 3 people in a city environment. One is a civilian, in a window, the other two are soldiers on opposite sides; In chemical warfare, who has the gas masks? The soldiers, and probably not the civilian. So when you spray some gas on the soldier, he’s just fine because of his gas mask, but when the gas eventually leaks up to the civilian, they’re the one without the gas mask, the one that dies because of the gas, and not the enemy soldier.
With conventional warfare though, the soldier can point his gun at the enemy, and take him out, without harming the civilian. If he wanted to harm the civilian, he would have to take the time to aim his weapon at the civilian, risking being shot by the enemy soldier.
So as you may now understand, the conventional weapons are usually better at controlling the chaos compared to a gas, such as Sarin. And because the gas was not very effective at killing the enemy soldier in my example, that is why the international community agreed soon after World War I that it was not a weapon that should be allowed to be taken to the front.
In modern times, the US is like a big brother. We have the strongest and most versatile military, and a government that wants to use it for good (you may disagree, and I acknowledge that, but still do read) helping out other countries in good ways. We are one of the few countries on this planet that will enforce international rules, so what happens if we don’t?
What happens is people break those rules. What is under consideration right now by congress is whether or not to send some missiles or something in just to make it much harder for the Syrian government (or whoever did it) to carry out chemical attacks like the one on August 21st. If future dictatorships see that using chemical weapons will get a few US missiles sent their way, it may slightly deter them from using chemicals. At the very least, punishing whoever used the chemical weapons a few weeks ago makes it look like the US is keeping its word on the rules it helped create.
But one question you may still be asking is why did Obama direct the decision to congress? Let me just say this first though: Obama is in a lose/ lose situation, and so is congress.
Obama announced last Saturday, August 21st, that he was going to let congress make the decision on what to do about chemical warfare in Syria. If he hadn’t made that decision, and would have made the decision himself, he would have been criticized heavily by the press for possibly going into another Libya, even though it might be just a few missile strikes. By leaving the decision to congress, he still got slightly humiliated by the international community for being a “coward”, but he did not lose as much support as making the decision himself whether or not to do anything would have caused him.
Now congress has to make the very unpopular decision. If they say we should send a few missiles over, then people are not going to be happy within the country. But if they don’t do anything? Then the entire US is going to be ridiculed by countries that are not strong allies of this country for letting someone get by international rules that some others have paid their price for.
Obama is in support of doing something in Syria, and on Tuesday he is going to try and persuade congress to do something in a speech he has announced he will be making. While I have tried my best to not persuade you of anything in this article and only inform, I highly recommend that you watch the speech, and gain some insight on what he thinks should be done.
EDIT: The Syrian Government Announced Tuesday September 10th, that they were the ones that used chemical weapons. They also said that they will hand them over for destruction by international forces after Russia suggested they should. Although, as part of what they said, they cannot be struck by international forces by their military forces.