Die Zeit (Berlin): Military intervention in Syria is “absolutely essential”—Obama’s Debacle in Syria — Update #79 (August 27, 2012)

Latest Press Reports and Commentary

(1) Die Zeit (Berlin) reported on August 27, in an article by Martin Gehlen, that military intervention in Syria is “absolutely essential” (unverzichtbar).

Syria is on the way to Hell. With or without the U.N. Security Council, whether they want to risk it or not: the international community in the foreseeable future will have to intervene.

Gehlen reports that each day more horrible crimes are committed, as the number of refugees exceeds the capacity of neighboring states to absorb them–30,000 crossed the border last week alone. Some two million refugees are fleeing, both inside and outside the country, while hundreds of thousands of families are trapped between the front lines.

But above all, Gehlen asserts, it is the stocks of chemical weapons that will require intervention, if al-Assad uses them in the civil war, or to keep them from falling into the wrong hands. They cannot just be left to themselves.

The international community will also have to provide food and shelter for the refugees, who can’t just go home as their homes have been destroyed, together with their schools and their hospitals.

In the meantime, Gehlen writes, the United States, Turkey and France are preparing, for the first time, to establish limited no-fly zones. The United States is bringing into position special forces for chemical weapons, and planning large-scale distribution of food and medicines. What is clear, he concludes, is that whatever responsibilities for Syria may come to the international community, they will be more comprehensive, last much longer, and be far more costly than the 7,587 NATO air-raids against Libya.

See Martin Gehlen “Militäreinsatz: Ein Eingreifen in Syrien ist unverzichtbar; Die Zahl der Flüchtlinge steigt, Kämpfe eskalieren, Chemiewaffen drohen in falsche Hände zu geraten; Der Westen wird sich einer Intervention in Syrien bald nicht mehr entziehen können, Die Zeit, 27 August 2012.

(2) Meanwhile, French President François Hollande has asserted that the use of chemical weapons by al-Assad would justify a military attack. He also stated that he would recognize an interim government in Syria, once it is formed.

Le Monde et agences, “Pour Hollande, l’emploi d’armes chimiques légitimerait une intervention en Syrie,” Le Monde, 27 août 2012 (mis à jour à 19h18).

Steven Erlanger, “France Urges Syrian Opposition to Form New Government,” Mew York Times, August 27, 2012.

(3) Last week, on August 23, the Pentagon ordered one of its aircraft carriers, the USS Stennis, previously scheduled to be deployed in the Pacific, to return to the Persian Gulf in view of the situation in Iran and also that in Syria. The early deployment cut short short home leaves.

Panetta cited Iran’s nuclear program and its threats to oil tankers in the Strait of Hormuz as two concerns the Stennis strike group could counter in the U.S. Central Command’s area of responsibility, which also includes Syria and Afghanistan.

U.S. attention on Syria is focused on providing humanitarian aid, monitoring chemical and biological weapon stockpiles, and offering non-lethal assistance to forces opposing President Bashar al-Assad, he said.

–Daniel Fineren(Dubai/Reuters), “U.S. sends aircraft carrier back to Gulf to face Iran, Syria; The U.S. Navy is cutting short home leave for the crew of one of its aircraft carriers and sending them back to the Middle East next week to counter any threat from Iran, according to the official Navy News Service,” Reuters, August 23, 2012.

(4) For insight into the thinking of Obama administration officials, see

Steven Lee Meyers and Scott Shane, “Risks of Syrian Intervention Limit Options for U.S., New York Times, August 21. 2012.

Meyers and Erlanger report,

The administration’s current policy involves intensifying diplomatic and economic pressure on Mr. Assad’s government through sanctions, offering humanitarian assistance to Syrians inside and outside the country, and providing $25 million in “nonlethal” help to Mr. Assad’s opponents, including more recently to members of the Free Syrian Army. That aid has paid for communication equipment to enable the armed and unarmed opposition to better coordinate their attacks and plans for taking power.

The administration has also ruled out providing arms to the rebels for broadly the same reason: more weapons, the officials say, would probably make the war only worse.

The idea that supplying more weapons for the rebels would make the war only worse, when they are being slaughtered by the instruments of war of a modern state including attack helicopters, jet fighters, artillery and tanks, while they themselves are running out of ammunition (as reported recently in Aleppo), is nothing short of obscene, revealing a callousness that is almost beyond belief.

That, however, is the policy of the American president, Barack Obama, and his foreign policy juggernaut, “the gang who couldn’t shoot straight.”

The Trenchant Observer


For links to other articles on Afghanistan by The Trenchant Observer, click on the title at the top of this page to go to the home page, and then type in “Afghanistan” in the search box.