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Questions Before US Attacks Syria

Discovery's Casey Luskin asks if the WMD we are hearing about was Saddam Hussein's stockpile before the US invasion of ten years ago. It's a good question. Many speculated at the time that the reason the UN inspectors failed to find WMD in Iraq before 2003's invasion was that they had been shipped to Saddam's Baathist Party ally: Syria. So what do we really know about Syria's WMD?

Another, even more pertinent question before the US attacks: How do we know that the WMD attack really was carried out by Assad? We will feel used, indeed, if the gas killings turn out to have been perpetrated by al Qaeda for the purpose of provoking us to attack Assad.

Yet another question before we rush ahead: If the leaders of Christian denominations in Syria (Catholic and Orthodox) are asking the U.S. to keep out, why aren't we listening to them? Do we suppose (which is possible) that they are taking this position because they have to, and actually would be glad to see Assad go? It would nice, for a change, if the USG would put the survival interests of Middle Eastern Christians into the top, rather than bottom, of its calculations.

How serious is the Free Syrian Army? How independent is it from al Nusra and the other Islamic extremists? A Wall Street Journal article by Elizabeth O'Bagy of the Institute for the Study of War describes a three party war: Assad's, al Qaeda (al Nusra and Hezbollah) and the Free Syrian Army, with the latter two poised to fight it out once Assad is taken down. Is this an accurate picture?

If so, then we might well heed Ms O'Bagy's further opinion that helping the Free Syrian Army (which is anti-Iran, by the way) requires degrading the Assad government's powers to attack the Free Syrian Army, especially by air. However, her further and even more crucial recommendation is that "any U.S. action should be part of a larger, comprehensive strategy coordinated with our allies that has the ultimate goal of destroying Assad's military capability while simultaneously empowering the moderate opposition with robust support."

My key question remains: Do we even have a long term strategy? Is the U.S. going to take Assad out or only wound him? If it is the latter "strategy", the whole idea is a bootless adventure.

You can email brucechapman@discovery.org

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