President Risks a Pissed-Off Putin
US, UK Ready Special Relationship
Bombardment of Syrian Regime
by Dan Ehrlich

Barack Obama and David Cameron have acted together in reiterating the President’s much earlier “Red Line” warning over the use of chemical weapons in Syria’s civil war. They’re not sure they’re being used, but after more than a dozen alleged attacks and hundreds of deaths, they are waiting and waiting for a definitive “yes” or “no.”

But, according to Foreign Secretary William Hague, he’s has no doubt. ‘We believe this was a chemical attack by Assad.”

So, both the US and UK are entreating the UN to condemn the action and give the Assad regime one more chance to disarm. The big problem with that being what to do if the warning is ignored.

Creating a no fly zone as NATO did in Libya would be the obvious step as an alternative of supplying rebel forces with arms, which all parties seem hesitant to do, at least on the public stage. But before that the US and UK are favoring cruise missile strikes against Syria's military. 

There are three main reasons this hasn’t been done. First Syria has no oil, so its value to the world economy in negligible. Second, the voters in America and the UK aren’t in favour of involvement. And third, even more important, Russia has been a close buddy of Syria since the late 1950s. It has warned NATO to stay out of the conflict.

And, the USA, in particular is trying to maintain it’s live and let live relationship with post communist Russia. It doesn’t need to antagonize it and Vlad Putin any further with the Edward Snowden affair still a hot topic.

There’s also another possible danger of NATO action. It could bring Israel into the war, at least in a support capacity. Such an event could easily widen it, as Syria has claimed.

The Iran factor is more bluff than reality. It might attempt to close the Gulf to shipping, but the US and NATO naval forces could handle that.

The first thing is to prove who actually is crossing Obama’s red line. Most observers’ first thoughts were that the Syrian government was doing it. Now, some aren’t so sure with evidence rebels may have been using some sort of chemical weapons against the military as well as civilians.

I have to reason: Why would the government forces want to use weapons of mass destruction on its own capital? What would it gain? It wouldn’t end the war and only create more international pressure for intervention. And also, where is Bashir al Assad in all of this? How much power does he still hold?

On the other hand, some of the many rebel factions might use the “for the greater good” rationale, in sacrificing civilians, knowing the government will be blamed and forcing NATO into action. This is not a far fetched idea knowing how merciless some jihadists can be when doing God’s work.

However, this latest horror from Syria may finally be causing Russia to soften it stance, now pushing for UN weapons inspectors to be given greater access to hot spots. It has long been the Russian position to let the war play out on its own with the Assad government winning through attrition. Now the Putin government is coming to the realization that this conflict may be endless, tearing the country apart in the process.

The refugee crises alone is staggering for any government to fathom with more than three times the number of Palestinians that fled their homes in the 1948 Israel War of Independence. And that figure daily becomes larger.

It’s certain unless Russia changes its tune in a big way, NATO will not become actively involved in the carnage. But, as I wrote in a past blog, since France is the only country hinting military action, let the French lead the charge. But, don’t count on it.

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