Potiphar12's Blog
An Octogenarian in the modern world


Obama is back from Moscow, with Putin and some others firmly against him. He still seems keen to attack Syria, and will try to get congressional backing.If he gets approval, and does attack, the US will be on their own except for (maybe) France. There will be a great many deaths and no certainty of al-Assad’s removal. There may be other effects, like al-Assad launching an attack on Israel because of its close links to the USA. Then the Middle East explodes. The dangers of a unilateral attack by the USA seem greater than those attached to not punishing Syria. What are the likely consequences if the USA does not attack? One possibility is that more nations will sign up to some sort of economic pressure. Up to now the idea of US military action has saved other nations from any serious feeling of responsibility and they have been able to wait and watch.

Suppose there is no attack, and whoever was behind the chemical attack ‘gets away with it’? The general fear is that he will do it again, and others will follow suit, and chemical warfare will become OK – which it certainly is not right now. Putin must be well aware of that danger. He supports the al-Assad regime and must have influence in Damascus. Does he think that he can persuade al-Assad to reject all further use of chemical weapons? if he does, then why does he not act? If he does not act at all, does that mean that he does not care about possible extension?

A very nasty thought is that Putin may regard chemical warfare as a useful tool for suppressing revolt. Russia has had a few revolts and has been rough about putting them down. If CW is not condemned then various dictators will think of adding it to their toolkits. That is bad news, but the toolkits are stuffed with nasty things already. They are not always used.

Today my conservative newspaper returns to this very difficult issue with the ‘must be punished’ theme. The true purpose of punishment is to stop the offence happening again. A less important purpose is to reinforce the authority of the punisher. For me, there is still too much doubt about whether the true purpose will be achieved and I am still against the military strike.

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