HomeLatest ThreadsGreatest ThreadsForums & GroupsMy SubscriptionsMy Posts
DU Home » Latest Threads » Forums & Groups » Main » General Discussion (Forum) » Why Is There a 'Red Line'...

Sat Apr 27, 2013, 05:48 AM

Why Is There a 'Red Line' on Chemical Weapons but Not on 70,000 Deaths?

http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2013/04/why-is-there-a-red-line-on-chemical-weapons-but-not-on-70-000-deaths/275328/


Animal carcasses lie on the ground, killed by what residents said was a chemical weapon attack on Tuesday, in Khan al-Assal area near the northern city of Aleppo, March 23, 2013. (George Ourfalian/Reuters)

As evidence of the Syrian regime's use of chemical weapons mounts, the Obama administration has further confused matters regarding its own stated "red lines." The evidence appears to be strong but not necessarily "conclusive." As the April 25th White House letter states, "the chain of custody is not clear, so we cannot confirm how the exposure occurred and under what conditions." This sort of rhetoric points to an administration that finds itself cornered but, at the same time, seems intent on postponing any decisive action for as long humanly possible. The debate over whether, how, when, and to what extent lines were crossed not only seems petty (and undermines the very notion of a red line); it is also a distraction.

Presumably, the Obama administration's red-lining of chemical weapons isn't just about the risk of mass civilian casualties. After all, mass slaughter -- with over 70,000 killed -- has already happened and hasn't apparently shaken the U.S. commitment to studied inaction. The real concern is over the security implications of chemical weapon use or transport. First, the weapons could fall into the hands of non-state actors, metastasizing the terror threat. Second (and related to the first), the spread of chemical weapons would lead to unprecedented regional destabilization in the form of a sharp increase in refugee flows, which, in turn, could threaten the stability of friendly autocrats like the Jordanian monarchy.

These concerns are of course justified, but the focus on security implications -- rather than focusing on the 70,000 already killed by good old-fashioned artillery and aircraft -- suggests an outdated (and morally problematic) calculus for action. In saying that chemical weapons are a red line, the Obama administration is also saying that the killing of 70,000 Syrians is not a red line, which, when you think about it, is a remarkable thing to say.

More than two years after the Arab uprisings began, it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that U.S. policy toward the Middle East is more or less the same as it was before. Whether it is Secretary of State John Kerry effusively praising regimes and failing to muster even a sentence of criticism; the unwillingness to condition economic assistance on democratic reform in countries such as Egypt, Morocco, and Jordan; or conducting business as usual in Bahrain, one of the worst human rights offenders in the region; the bottom line is much the same - security trumps all.

4 replies, 979 views

Reply to this thread

Back to top Alert abuse

Always highlight: 10 newest replies | Replies posted after I mark a forum
Replies to this discussion thread
Arrow 4 replies Author Time Post
Reply Why Is There a 'Red Line' on Chemical Weapons but Not on 70,000 Deaths? (Original post)
xchrom Apr 2013 OP
Recursion Apr 2013 #1
Victor_c3 Apr 2013 #2
KG Apr 2013 #3
DCBob Apr 2013 #4

Response to xchrom (Original post)

Sat Apr 27, 2013, 05:49 AM

1. The proximity of Tel Aviv (nt)

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to xchrom (Original post)

Sat Apr 27, 2013, 06:12 AM

2. I'm willing to bet for the same reason you'll see no more than a handful of replies to this thread

I don't think people can connect with numbers of casualties like that. How many Americans truly are upset about the widespread death and destruction we caused in Iraq? If we as an American public don't give a damn about more than 100,000 dead Iraqis, what makes anyone think that we actually give a damn about 70,000 dead Syrians?

People just can't connect with the what violence like that means or they are too focused on their own immediate lives to give a damn.

---- edit to add ----

I'm just going on record here that I'm fully against involving our military in Syria. Yes, it is appalling, how did the last war we involve ourselves in turn out?

War weary troops going to Syria will treat them no different than we treated Iraqis or Afghans. We'll end up with the same failure in Syria as we have seen in our other wars.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to xchrom (Original post)

Sat Apr 27, 2013, 07:56 AM

3. had to make sure the rebels were winning to before deciding to jump in.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to xchrom (Original post)

Sat Apr 27, 2013, 07:59 AM

4. wmd

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink

Reply to this thread