Dear A.M. Costa Rica:
Regarding the article about the Syrian chemical weapons “red line,” it may have been President Obama who used the now infamous words, but the fact that a universal chemical weapons red line existed was understood by the U.S. and all of the NATO members who are also signatories of the Chemical Weapons Treaty of 1984. When Assad used the weapon of mass destruction, he crossed everybody’s line, not just Obama’s
Little did Obama or anybody else know that Congress, the American people, and the British and French public would reject even the limited military action that was proposed as a response to a clear violation of the treaty, and that the Chemical Weapons Treaty would be rendered virtually worthless as a result.
Even though the retaliatory bombing attacks Obama proposed would more than likely have been ineffective, and might have sucked America into a deeper involvement in the fighting, this retreat from the long presumed Chemical Weapons Treaty red line by NATO is most unfortunate and ominous because it demonstrates to the world and the nastiest people in it, that chemical weapons can be used against civilians without fear of retaliation.
And on a larger scale, the president has the unfortunate but necessary task of ramping down our military involvements in the Middle East and South Asia after more than 12 fruitless years of warfare that has cost more than 7,400 American lives to date, that has killed tens of thousands of non combatants, and that has drained the U.S. treasury of trillions of dollars, all while accomplishing next to nothing.
In fact, Iraq and Afghanistan are less stable than when America first unleashed the Bush doctrine, and the radicalization of Islam in its entirety has been greatly accelerated. Further, a majority of the American people now say that (1) America’s military adventures in the Muslim world were a mistake, (2) America should “mind its own business,” and (3) “national defense” should start at home. Trying to paint this shift in attitudes and strategies as a failure of policy or of will by the President is disingenuous in the extreme.
The inconvenient truth is that America’s policies in the region have been a massive, collective failure for more than 60 years, ever since the CIA overthrew the Iranian government in 1953. Everything that’s happening now is a culmination of those failures and more importantly, a reflection of the will of the American public that is demanding a more pragmatic and less pugnacious foreign policy and a renewed focus on domestic problem solving. It’s long past time to let Muslims solve their own problems, even if we don’t like the solutions.