(Carl Court/Getty Images)

President Obama has said repeatedly that the use of chemical weapons in Syria would cross a “red line” for the U.S. With banned chemical weapons purportedly unleashed on rebel-held suburbs of Damascus last week, a U.S. intervention in Syria seems unavoidable. We’ll ask our experts what the next steps are for the U.S and Syria. And we want to hear from you: Should the U.S. intervene militarily in Syria?

Guests:
Anja Manuel, lecturer at the International Policy Studies Program at Stanford University; partner at the strategic consulting firm Rice Hadley Group LLC; and former U.S. State Department staff
Phyllis Bennis, fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies; and author of "Challenging Empire: How People, Governments and the U.N. Defy U.S. Power", and "Before and After: U.S. Foreign Policy and the War on Terrorism"
Andranik Migranyan, director, the Institute for Democracy and Cooperation
Amr Al-Azm, Associate Professor of Middle East History and Anthropology, Shawnee State University

  • Alberto

    So the USA is about to attack (another) country illegally, after
    having sent in Sunni Islamist terrorists to perpetuate the civil
    war, which has included having these US-backed terrorists commit atrocities against civilians, all in order to create justifications for an invasion. And the new justification is that maybe Assad used chemical weapons but that isn’t proven and more likely is that the US- and Saudi-backed jihádis actually perpetrated that attack covertly in what is called a false-flag attack. It’s obvious from a legal standpoint or moral standpoint or from common sense that the criminal regime that needs replacing is not in the pip squeak in Syria but rather the American military-industrial complex, which Eisenhower warned us about in vain. If the future is left up to them, and their puppets like Uncle Tom Obama, every country in the Middle East will be left with Islamist jackals in power. The USA is trying to turn the Middle East into one big Saudi Arabia wrapped in a paper-thin veneer of democracy, with the USA pulling the strings.

    • Robert Thomas

      Funny- it appears to me that president Obama has spent many months trying not to do anything.

      • Abe

        Do you just accept everything at face value?

  • Bob Fry

    Let’s not start another war, but say we did. Should keep everybody happy.

  • johnqeniac

    We (Obama, Bush, congress,..etc.) are always are telling what they must do but never listening to anyone. Russia is Assad’s only real ally. If they told the terms he must accept he will comply. The Russians do not want the U.S to dictate the terms. We tell Russia to comply with our wishes. Why don’t we listen to them, and acknowledge, if begrudgingly, their crucial importance to this puzzle? They are right about us. We demand, we command, but we do not listen. On day one of the Syrian protests/uprising Clinton announced that ‘Assad has no legitimacy. The Russians have no legitimacy.’ thus locking us in to a position of imperial force. If we could stop the killing by leaving Assad in power but constrained, would we be willing to stop the killing? Or must we have our own compliant puppet rather than a Russian compliant puppet?
    Russia is the key to this. They hold the power over Assad. Are we willing to deal with the Russians? Or would we rather see Syria collapse into madness?

  • Bob Fry

    Michael just said “intervention…seems to be unavoidable”. I don’t understand this. Of course it’s avoidable…just say no. As tragic as their civil war is, it’s not our war, and not in our interest to intervene with our own arms.

    • Chris OConnell

      I guess since people like Krasny (i.e. prominent media figures) think it is unavoidable, they are helping make it unavoidable. It’s a preposterous statement. Death and taxes are unavoidable. Bombing Syria? Extremely avoidable.

  • Chris OConnell

    No. The US should not get involved.

    Even if I thought we could solve the problem and make things better in Syria, I still would not think we should get involved based on the principle of non-intervention. But it is almost CERTAIN that we would not make things better, we would not solve anything and would most likely make it worse.

    So why would we do it? Feeding the beast (institutional need for war), punishing someone who never took orders (Assad), punishing an enemy of Israel and friend of Hezbollah and Hamas. Because we can…

  • Ali

    US should not respond but let Russia to deal with this alone.
    This will be a far stronger message to the world of Russian intentions.

  • Robert Thomas

    Why not speak the truth?

    Civilian casualties are NOT the issue.

    Toleration of the use of these weapons threatens the continuation of the all-volunteer armed forces. It’s possible to convince an eighteen-year-old that he can dodge a bullet or even a flame thrower. It’s very difficult to convince him he can run from nerve gas.

    The intent to attack the Syrians for the strongly suspected use of these weapons has nothing to do with civilian casualties. It has to with the implied threat to our own combatants.

    This is the reason the U.S., France, the U.K., and Germany, in particular, along with their experience in WWI, have a particular sensitivity in this way. It’s not the effect on non-combatants. It’s the effect on combatants.

    See here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volunteer_military

  • Chris OConnell

    from the PBS Newshour last night:

    JOHN MEARSHEIMER:
    I think that the United States has no strategic interest in this
    particular case. Our core strategic interests are not at stake. There’s no compelling moral case for intervening in Syria. And, very importantly, it’s not clear that using military force is going to do any good.

    When President Obama was asked what this strike is likely to
    accomplish, he basically had no good answer to that question. So my bottom line is that the United States should work diplomatically to try and settle this war, but it should stay out militarily, to include a limited strike with cruise missiles…

    Well, first of all, you don’t have nations of the world coming together. The Arab League has not sanctioned an attack. You can’t get Security Council approval. The Russians and the Chinese will veto it. And, in fact, if we do go to war, it will not be a legal war. This is why President Obama talked about norms ad nauseam in his comments and didn’t talk about international law, because he knows he can’t do this legally…

    But I would like to point out that all of this discourse about
    chemical weapons being so special is, I think, wrong. I think it’s,
    again, regrettable that chemical weapons have been used. But chemical weapons are not weapons of mass destruction, like nuclear weapons are. The reason that chemical weapons were not used in World War II wasn’t because someone like Adolf Hitler was above using them for moral reasons.

    They weren’t used because they have very little military utility.
    Anybody who has been in the Army knows that chemical weapons just don’t buy you much on the battlefield. And, in fact, the United States used nuclear weapons in World War II. So the norms could not have been very powerful in that war.

    And what we have here in Syria is a case where it appears that about 1,000 people were killed by chemical weapons. But I would estimate that roughly 40,000 people have been killed by conventional weapons before these thousand people were regrettably killed by chemical weapons.

    I ask you, what’s the difference between killing somebody with
    shrapnel or bullets vs. killing them with chemical weapons? I don’t see any meaningful difference. If we’re so concerned about the fact that people have been killed, we should have intervened a long time ago in Syria. And, of course, we didn’t because we don’t want to get in the middle of this situation because we have no way to fix it.

    And the idea that chemical weapons have suddenly changed the nature of the game and therefore we should get involved now, I think, is a specious argument.

    • Robert Thomas

      The American and western European electorate cares little about the fortunes of anyone, civilian or otherwise, involved in conflicts in Asia, except for their own forces. They will not allow their sons to be deployed in a theater of war where the employment of chemical or biological weapons have become commonplace, and their leadership knows this.

  • Ameena Jandali

    A good reminder that many Red Lines have been crossed according to the West’s own rules which they remember to uphold once in a while: Protocol 1 of the Geneva Convention states:

    Articles 51 and 54 outlaw indiscriminate attacks on civilian populations, and destruction of food, water, and other materials needed for survival. Indiscriminate attacks include directly attacking civilian (non-military) targets, but also using technology such as biological weapons, nuclear weapons and land mines, whose scope of destruction cannot be limited.[5] A total war that does not distinguish between civilian and military targets is considered a war crime.
    Articles 56 and 53 outlaw attacks on dams, dikes, nuclear generating stations, and places of worship. The first three are “works and installations containing dangerous forces” and may be attacked but only in ways that do not threaten to release the dangerous forces (i.e., it is permissible to attempt to capture them but not to try to destroy them).
    Articles 76 and 77, 15 and 79 provide special protections for women, children, and civilian medical personnel, and provide measures of protection for journalists.

  • Robert Thomas

    For better or worse, those who would pursue an action such as that anticipated are burdened directly and specifically by the well-predicted effect of the stupid, childishly amateurish nincompoopery of the imbecile executive staff of the Pinhead W. Peabrain administration. Does this turn out to have had a silver lining, however thin?

  • Ameena Jandali

    Over 100,000 people, including women and children have already been killed. Thousands more have been detained, tortured, maimed and raped while the world has watched and done nothing for over 2 years. How long will the world allow this bloody crack-down to continue? What happened to Never Again?

    • Bob Fry

      Hand-wringing statements about tragedies always include the “women and children” phrase. What, are they more valuable or more tragic than men dying?

      As for what happened to Never Again, that was a throw-away political statement for consumption by the sheeple. It seems to have worked on some.

    • johnqeniac

      It is horrible. You are presumably Syrian. Are you a member of the Free Syrian Army, posting from the front, amid a hail of gunfire? If not, why not? This is a serious question. Those who most strongly support war must be the first to fight or they have no credibility. This seems so obviously true yet in all our wars the war enthusiasts seem never to be at the front facing bullets and dying.
      What do you demand from us? How many people must we bomb to death to make you happy? Who must we kill for you to make you happy. We spent nearly a decade in Iraq (and we’re still there actually) killing people for peace (according to the narrative) and spending trillions. When we ‘left’, somewhere between 100,000 and 1,000,000 were dead, trillions spent, and Iraq is still a mess (incidentally, it is curious that no one asks where the figure of 100,000 Syrian dead comes form, while in Iraq, even when the sources and methodology of the estimates (of several hundred thousand dead) where published, those in favor of the occupation relentlessly disputed them. I don’t even know where the 100,000 figure comes from – do you? can you quote a source)
      In any case, what is it you want us to do? Specifically. Precisely. Not generally, but precisely. The devil is in the details. A few cruise missiles? 10000 sorties? Heavy weaponry for the rebels? Hundreds of thousands of occupying U.S. and NATO troops? Exactly, precisely what? You owe us an exact specification. So give it to us please? No vague generalities.
      And, can you confidently say that you speak for all Syrians when you ask for more war, more bombs, more violence? Do you live in Syria? Where? Shouldn’t we ask the Syrians in country? Don’t they deserve to be heard on this? Tell them, “We’re going to bomb you to save you. Probably several hundred thousand more of you = children, women, and men – will die by our bombs or Assad’s before it is all over. Do you still want us to bomb you? Oh, and it may not be over after all that killing (cf, Iraq).”
      If we owe you an attack on Syria, then you certainly owe us specifics.

  • 99to1

    Those who don’t believe the Syrian rebels could possibly have launched chemical weapons should take a look at this video clip, showing them doing just that:

  • Eric Berg

    Anja Manuel provided the following evidence that the Bashar al-Assad regime was behind the chemical attacks – John Kerry was very forceful in his arguments-. That is not evidence. Liars can talk just as forcefully as those who tell the truth. I found Anja Manuels arguments lacking substance as a whole throughout the show.

  • Jay Ess

    Forgive me in advance for my possible ignorance on the Syrian topic. As in most crimes, is it not more appropriate to bring charges against the alleged criminals, hold them in custody if there is danger to the public or themselves, investigate circumstances and determine guilt and punishment in an international court of law? It is illegal to act as judge and jury in the USA. Why are we doing so in the middle east? If there is imminent danger then immediate action is needed to stop it…if not, then an arrest and trial of Assad is in order. Has he been charged with crimes against humanity? The goal of any military action should be to bring the perpetrator(s) into an international court for a fair trial.

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