News For Everyone to Enjoy In Moderation, Under Very Specific Guidelines

Syrian rebels not quite so lovable, it seems

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Your summer plans in Syria may need some tweaking.

Remember when you used to idolize the anti-government forces in Syria? Yes, you remember. You used to sit around and dress up your stuffed animals like Syrian rebels and parade them around your bedroom making gunfire sounds with your mouth and then close everything off with a spectacular–if not grossly extravagant–evening tea for your little guests. And ultimately, of course, the spirited conversation at the miniature roundtable would turn to sarin gas. The government was using it, brown bear would declare, so we should deliver weapons to the rebels. Yes, of course, giraffe would agree, send them guns and ammunition immediately, and call in airstrikes. And then the three of you would fall asleep before brushing your teeth or changing into your pajamas.

Well, as it turns out, you and your furry friends were a bit off the mark, I’m sorry to say–although, let’s be honest, brown bear has had a bit of an alarmist streak of late, and giraffe has consistently been a follower, not a leader, so you should have anticipated it.

The rebels may actually be using sarin gas.

Over the weekend, Carla del Ponte, one of four members of the United Nations’ International Commission on Syria–which is currently investigating the two-year-old civil war–, asserted that interviews conducted by the Commission revealed that insurgents may have in fact utilized the nerve agent. The news came as a shock to many Western observers, as just last week the White House notified key lawmakers that U.S. intelligence agencies believed “with varying degrees of confidence” that the Syrian government was using chemical weapons. Such an assessment was roughly in line with assertions by the UK Foreign Office and Israeli military officials.

As a result, over the last few days the heat had started to turn up on President Obama, who in a hilariously reckless, last-minute stunt back in August 2012, asserted that the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government constituted a “red line” for the United States. In light of last week’s revelation, it was beginning to look as if the statement had effectively backed the U.S. president into a corner with regards to American policy toward Syria, and that Obama himself would have to lead his own army regiment into Syria and eventually engage President Bashar al-Assad in a hand-to-hand fight to the death–that is until this latest news on chemical weapon usage came out. Also, please note that U.S. presidents generally prefer to avoid the whole hand-to-hand combat thing these days anyway, so the whole scenario was rather unlikely.

Given all of this, the situation is now so admirably confusing that even cowboy/U.S. Senator John McCain, who has interestingly enough (see McCain and the Iraq War: The Old Rich White Man and the Total Shitshow [HarperCollins, 2006]) expressed an interest in dumping arms into this volatile part of the world, may even back off a bit. If brown bear is any indication, however, the chest-thumping will likely continue regardless.

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