How Obama could deal with Syria. Play the long game and make Assad do it. Invasion seems pointless. Everyone appears to be at war with everyone else – want to join in? Get the chemical weapons out of the equation
President Obama drew a red line in the sand and to maintain any dignity he has to make good his threat. That is yesterday’s thinking. The need to retaliate for the use of chemical weapons by someone in Syria points to one thing. Syria has illegal weapons and he needs to be made to get rid of them. Not by invasion, that is too expensive. Not by trying to blow Damascus into the ground – you would kill large numbers of civilians, too.
But by negotiation. Imagine this?
President O: President Assad, you are guilty of possessing chemical weapons and they are being used. We suggest that you have lost control of your weapons and are therefore now a danger to the world. You have to now stop your war and we have to destroy your weapons or the world will force my hand and we will have to hunt you down. Your crimes against humanity are well documented, both before and largely since the war.
President A: We will never hand over our weapons. If you attack us, we will defend ourselves.
President O: We have heard that one before, and look what our generals did to Saddam. Now we have nothing against the good people of Syria. We have a problem with you harbouring and allowing or using deadly gas against any people. We can destroy them safely and if you hand them over now, we will do it for no charge and help the new Government rebuild.
President A: I will never agree to this.
President O: Then I would not stand so close to the window, Bashar. [CLICK!]
Twenty years ago, that would be pure paranoid conspiracy. Today, that is probably how this will pan out. Bombing Damascus would simply be sad. It is not the fault of the inhabitants. Destroy Syrian air=power – now if that was achieved then more chemical weapon attacks would be a significant risk. The only strategy is to force the most influential actor in this, Assad, to rid Syria of Chemical Weapons so when he inevitably faces trial for his crimes against humanity, there would be something positive in the balance.